Various Artists

Woodstock—40 Years On: Back to Yasgur’s Farm

Rhino

Sep 30, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Every decade following Woodstock there's a flurry of retrospectives, and the 40-year anniversary is no exception. This one comes hot on the heels of an AARP membership for most attendees, but that doesn't mean a new crop of music fans can't be browbeat with the event's mythology. See, kids, there was a time when neither Mountain Dew nor Clear Channel played a prominent role in music festivals, when pull-tabs were hauled past lax security, when the money-making aspect had yet to make things unbearable. Woodstock made things unbearable the old-fashioned way: half a million naked hippies rolling around in the mud.

Thing is, setting aside all the hype, you realize that it was a pretty damned good festival lineup, with a number of '60s luminaries and a favorable lean toward the riffier end of things.

What this box set attempts to do is present a less manicured version of events. You get a proper chronological order, between-set announcements beyond the bad brown acid warnings (there was also bad blue acid), Pete Townsend kicking Abbie Hoffman off the stage, a few songs from all but a few of the bands, and even the righting of a few wrongs, like the exclusion of the amazing-voiced Bert Sommer from the film and previous albums. It includes 38 previously unreleased tracks, many from the most prominent artists—Ravi Shankar, Jefferson Airplane, CCR, The Dead, and plenty others.

Rhino attempts to place the focus back on the music, to put you right back there in the mud. And they succeed, man—just don't eat the brown Metamucil. (www.rhino.com)

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