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Mike Ragogna

Mike Ragogna

Posted: June 15, 2009 06:03 AM

New Tunes On Monday: Woodstock, Woodstock Two, The Woodstock Experience, Woodstock the DVD, Woodstock the Website...


If you work in NYC's Herald Square and commute from Penn Station, or if you're a tourist or a Macy's shopper, you can't avoid Robert Altman's Summer of Love photography that has been heavily incorporated into the store's retro window displays. These pictures originally were assembled for Altman's stunning book, The Sixties, and, apparently, have been very effective in re-directing the attention of passersby to the department store's "hippie"-themed fashions, now on sale throughout the over 150-year-old, somewhat conservative establishment. That's all very nice, except 2009 is Woodstock's 40th anniversary, and though its counterculture seeds were planted (arguably) in the summer of l967's Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, it was the generation-defining, musical event that occurred at Yasgur's Farm in Bethel, New York, in August of '69, that ultimately defined the decade. Nice pictures though--check 'em out if you haven't yet, maybe pick up a paisley shirt...

Well, it's that time again, and Woodstock Fever has arrived (beads and headbands optional) to remind us there actually was music made before American Idol. What's different about this anniversary is that there is so much essential product centered around the original Bethel festival, it could choke a Volkswagen van. Already on the market is the Woodstock: 3 Days Of Peace And Music--The Director's Cut DVD that makes the '90s upgrade seem kind of quaint. Across the two discs is the remastered film with a restored forty minutes of snippage, plus bonus footage that includes a tour of The Museum at Bethel Woods. There is some juicy controversy concerning this release because some of it was very slightly overdubbed, a necessary evil to create the 5.1 mix; you'll have to decide for yourself if the 5.1 touch-ups are aesthetically good or bad, but the sonics are sweet. And for those with a little extra dough to burn, you might want to spring for the sixty dollar version that comes with a fringe jacket (for the box set, not you) and interviews with Martin Scorsese, Hugh Hefner, and Michaels Shrieve, Lang & Wadleigh, along with many other era-friendly chachkis such as a Woodstock patch and a très cool Life magazine reprint.

Then there are the straight-up, cardboard-jacketed reissues of the triple LP Woodstock: Music From The Original Soundtrack And More and Woodstock Two that attempt to restore the concepts of the original records (within reason, we're still talking about CDs). Though you can get a fuller experience of the band sets with the expanded Woodstock: Three Days Of Peace And Music multi-disc collection, most folks will gravitate towards these albums as they're now being re-introduced--with a crisp remastering of the original mix-downs, not later generations of tape. The "Fish" cheer has never sounded so splendid. And, not to worry, you'll get to relive all those sonic bumps and distortions as well as see the prominently featured "Cotillion" logo at center bottom on both covers. But there's more...in August, timed with the debut of Ang Lee's new movie, Taking Woodstock, Rhino Records will release a major Woodstock box set that contains tracks from every performer at the concert, details to follow...

So, we've been down the Woodstock anniversary road before, and we've been Pavlovized on what to expect every five or ten years (since we only celebrate things with "5"s and "0"s at the end). Ah, but this year, Sony's Legacy department is making us think outside the box, and they've created a brand new experience no one has tried yet. This genuinely is an original idea that has never been done before, focusing on enhancing your level of Woodstock Nirvana. The label is taking five iconic artists--Jefferson Airplane, Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone, and Santana--and expanding their classic albums of that year with a second disc of newly-mixed versions of their Woodstock performances. They're calling each of these revisits The Woodstock Experience, and the albums include Janis Joplin's I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, Sly & The Family Stone's Stand!, Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers (with so many live tracks, they flow over both discs), Santana's debut, and Johnny Winter's self-titled release. "In our Woodstock Experience titles, we saw an opportunity to offer just that--a true, deep experience with our artists and their music," says Sony Music SVP and GM of Legacy Recordings, Adam Block. "By marrying the album they released in 1969 with their complete set from the festival--which had never been available before--we hope we're presenting a window back into not just the set or the event, but that moment in time for fans of each artist." These discs carry a pretty impressive sound as well as previously unreleased Woodstock performances, such as Airplane's "Come Back Baby," Santana's "Evil Ways," Sly's "Everyday People," Joplin's "As Good As You've Been To This World," and seven unreleased gems by Johnny Winter (with brother Edgar joining him on a few).

And your Woodstock adventures can be advanced even further by a visit to the newly-reactivated and totally revamped woodstock.com whose 20,000 pieces of content include information on over 130,000 events (including local and national concerts and ticket information). It also includes artist forums, social networking for the Bethel-inclined and beyond, and the opportunity to photo-post, review concerts, and add to its Wiki-style, Woodstock-centric area that "accepts and incorporates contributions about the individual experiences visitors have had at Woodstock festivals over the years." Yes, yes, right about now, you're asking yourself, "My God, what more could one want?" Joni Mitchell to have appeared at the concert instead of just writing about it, that's what. Then again, that's what many of us are doing now...writing about it without actually having been there (gulp). At least this combination of DVDs, CDs, the official website, Ang Lee's latest, and whatever other goodies are planned (like Michael Lang's and Holly George-Warren's book The Road To Woodstock) will remind us how important the Summer of Love...wait, that's not right...thanks a lot, Macy's! No, all this activity shows that Woodstock still is an important piece of our cultural history, and after all these years, we're still loyal fans of the event and its waves of associated memorabilia. That is, until September when The Beatles remasters hit the stores...


JEFFERSON AIRPLANE - THE WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE
Volunteers
originally issued April 1969

Disc One
1. We Can Be Together
2. Good Shepherd
3. The Farm
4. Hey Frederick
5. Turn My Life Down
6. Wooden Ships
7. Eskimo Blue Day
8. A Song For All Seasons
9. Meadowlands
10. Volunteers
Recorded Live at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Sunday, August 17, 1969
11. Introduction (previously unissued)
12. The Other Side of This Life (previously unissued)
13. Somebody To Love
14. 3/15 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds (previously unissued)
15. Won't You Try / Saturday Afternoon
16. Eskimo Blue Day

Disc Two - Recorded live at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Sunday, August 17, 1969
1. Plastic Fantastic Lover
2. Wooden Ships (previously unissued)
3. Uncle Sam Blues
4. Volunteers
5. The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil (previously unissued)
6. Come Back Baby (previously unissued)
7. White Rabbit
8. The House At Pooneil Corners (previously unissued)

JANIS JOPLIN - THE WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE
I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
originally issued October 1969

Disc One
1. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
2. Maybe
3. One Good Man
4. As Good As You've Been To This World
5. To Love Somebody • 6. Kozmic Blues
7. Little Girl Blue
8. Work Me, Lord.

Disc Two - Recorded live at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Saturday, August 16, 1969
1. Raise Your Hand (previously unissued)
2. As Good As You've Been To This World (previously unissued)
3. To Love Somebody
4. Summertime
5. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
6. Kozmic Blues
7. Can't Turn You Loose (previously unissued)
8. Work Me, Lord
9. Piece Of My Heart
10. Ball & Chain.

SANTANA - THE WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE
Santana
originally issued August 1969

Disc One
1. Waiting
2. Evil Ways
3. Shades Of Time
4. Savor
5. Jingo
6. Persuasion
7. Treat
8. You Just Don't Care
9. Soul Sacrifice.

Disc Two - Recorded live at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Saturday, August 16, 1969
1. Waiting
2. Evil Ways (previously unissued)
3. You Just Don't Care
4. Savor
5. Jingo
6. Persuasion
7. Soul Sacrifice
8. Fried Neckbones.

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE - THE WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE
Stand!
originally issued April 1969

Disc One
1. Stand!
2. Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey
3. I Want To Take You Higher
4. Somebody's Watching You
5. Sing A Simple Song
6. Everyday People
7. Sex Machine
8. You Can Make It If You Try

Disc Two - Recorded live at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Sunday, August 17, 1969
1. M'Lady (previously unissued)
2. Sing A Simple Song (previously unissued)
3. You Can Make It If You Try (previously unissued)
4. Everyday People (previously unissued)
5. Dance To The Music
6. MEDLEY: Music Lover / Higher
7. I Want To Take You Higher (previously unreleased)
8. Love City
9. Stand! (previously unissued)

JOHNNY WINTER - THE WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE
Johnny Winter
originally issued May 1969

Disc One
1. I'm Yours And I'm Hers
2. Be Careful With A Fool
3. Dallas
4. Mean Mistreater
5. Leland Mississippi Blues
6. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
7. When You Got A Good Friend
8. I'll Drown In My Own Tears
9. Back Door Friend.

Disc Two - Recorded live at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Sunday, August 17-Monday, August 18, 1969
1. Mama, Talk To Your Daughter (previously unissued)
2. Leland Mississippi Blues
3. Mean Town Blues
4. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now (previously unissued)
5. I Can't Stand It (with Edgar Winter) (previously unissued)
6. Tobacco Road (with Edgar Winter) (previously unissued)
7. Tell The Truth (with Edgar Winter) (previously unissued)
8. Johnny B. Goode (previously unissued).