When the original Woodstock soundtrack album came out in 1970, it had three vinyl LP’s, about two hours of music and stage announcements. Later releases included more music, but never as much as this set’s six CD’s, which amount to about seven hours, about a fifth of all the music played, arranged in the order it was played. Much of this has never been released before. Ever heard of the band Quill? Of Bert Sommer? Me neither. The album’s booklet argues pretty convincingly that had Sommer been in the movie, he might have had a pretty substantial career.
While the original release admittedly covered the festival’s highlights, some bands refused to participate in the movie, or were unhappy with their performance, or simply didn’t make the cut. Credence Clearwater Revival plays three of their hits here, and come about as close to jamming as you’ll ever hear this tightly rehearsed band get.
Canned Heat‘s “Going Up the Country” was a pretty weak performance that got included in the movie and soundtrack, but their amazing jam, here called “Woodstock Boogie” was simply too long, at 28 minutes. It’s here.
Country Joe and The Fish clearly got shortchanged. Here, they have six numbers, one of them a lengthy reprise of “Rock and Soul Music,” which way outshines the quick edit that made the soundtrack.
The Grateful Dead‘s set was famously marred by ungrounded mics that punished Jerry and Bob with giant blue electric explosions every time they got too close, like close enough to sing. What’s not as well known is that after this problem got solved, the band delivered a creditable version of their classic of weirdness “Dark Star.” One understands why they mostly abandoned this song–finding that place within themselves where it lived can’t have been easy.
More stage announcements get included here, too. Apparently, the brown acid wasn’t the only bad stuff going around. After an announcer goofs and tells everyone who took the green acid to report to the medical tent immediately, panicking people who might be really vulnerable right then, Jerry Garcia and Country Joe come out and provide some perspective.
For those of us who can’t get enough of this, the new release is a near miracle.