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Description of the book "Wattstax":
Sub-billed as a "30th Anniversary Special Edition," the 2004 DVD release of Wattstax restored to circulation the film based around the 1972 Wattstax concert, mixing musical footage with scenes from the African-American Watts community and Richard Pryor comic routines. The DVD version is a notable improvement on previous prints on several scores. The soundtrack has been remastered in Dolby 5.1 digital- however, of greater importance, the original director's cut has been used. Actually, this doesn't change the movie much, but there's one crucial difference. Legal reasons prevented the use of Isaac Hayes' concert sequence, including "Theme From Shaft" and PDF "Soulsville," in the original release, where a different song "Rolling Down the Mountain" filmed on a sound stage to mimic the Wattstax environment had to be substituted. Now "Theme From 'Shaft'" is back where it belongs complete with an introduction by Jesse Jackson, as well as "Soulsville." "Rolling Down the Mountain" is still present, too, though only as one of the supplementary extras. The main bonus features are the two commentary tracks, one featuring Chuck D of Public Enemy and soul historian Rob Bowman- the other track contains quite a multitude of voices, among them Isaac Hayes, Stax executive PDF Al Bell, director Mel Stuart, cameramen, Little Milton, and members of the Bar-Kays, Soul Children, and the Temprees. The commentaries are worthwhile and informative but might occasionally frustrate some viewers in that there's actually not too much direct observation of the onscreen action. The Bowman-Chuck D track focuses on the musical and social significance of the event with some rather long pauses at times. The other track is more centered on first-hand memories of Stax and the Wattstax concert with the use of so many commentators necessitating a pseudo-narrator that briefly identifies each voice prior PDF to most of the observations- it's a necessary device, perhaps, but doesn't lend itself to the smoothest of flows. Other less interesting extras include a longer clip of Albert King's song from the film, "I'll Play the Blues for You" though this version still doesn't seem absolutely complete, and trailers for both the original 1973 release and the 2003 special-edition theatrical re-release. Altogether, it's still a rich viewing experience both for the opportunity to see some '70s soul performers in their prime and for the film's presentation of a slice of PDF African-American urban life of the era.