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Thread: AAJ Review: WoodstockóBack To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience

  1. #1

    AAJ Review: WoodstockóBack To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience



    My review of WoodstockóBack To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience, today at All About Jazz.

    First things first. For all but the most committed of fans, knowledge of what transpired, how it transpired and when it transpired at the now-legendary 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair has, despite a variety of initial, 25th and 40th Anniversary audio and video releases, been severely limited. As engaging, entertaining and well-constructed as these various snapshots have been of the event dubbed "Three Days of Peace and Music," the variety of releases to date have ranged from absolute truth to moderate inaccuracies and, even, a few flat-out lies.

    The fact is, Michael Wadleigh's Academy Award-winning 1970 documentary, Woodstock, and its two associated soundtrack albums, the triple-LP Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More (Cotillion, 1970) and double-LP Woodstock Two (Atlantic, 1971)--both audio releases also including bands and/or performances not included in the film--have ultimately failed to tell the real story, and on a number of fronts.

    The good news? With 2019 representing Woodstock's 50th Anniversary, this historic event, attended by well over 400,000 people at Max Yasgur's farm (actually, in one of his hay fields about three miles from his home farm) in Bethel, NY over three days beginning on August 15, 1969, is finally getting the treatment--and verisimilitude--it deserves.

    There are four different versions of Woodstock--Back to the Garden, representing three different sets of track listings. The 42-track triple CD and quintuple LP sets may not contain performances from every act that played the festival, but with music from 21 artists and a small but nevertheless significant variety of announcements, these more budget-friendly releases still provide a more accurate "you are there" experience than any prior audio or video release.

    While intersecting with the original film and soundtrack albums, Woodstock--Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Collection finally corrects the order of events, using material only recorded at the festival, and providing either far less edited or, in most cases, complete versions of music previously more invasively altered. And that's not to mention a vast amount of music that has never been heard on any prior commercial Woodstock releases, audio or video.

    Continue reading here...
    Last edited by jkelman; 08-10-2019 at 06:42 PM.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  2. #2

    AAJ Review: WoodstockóBack To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience



    My review of Woodstock—Back To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience, today at All About Jazz.

    First things first. For all but the most committed of fans, knowledge of what transpired, how it transpired and when it transpired at the now-legendary 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair has, despite a variety of initial, 25th and 40th Anniversary audio and video releases, been severely limited. As engaging, entertaining and well-constructed as these various snapshots have been of the event dubbed "Three Days of Peace and Music," the variety of releases to date have ranged from absolute truth to moderate inaccuracies and, even, a few flat-out lies.

    The fact is, Michael Wadleigh's Academy Award-winning 1970 documentary, Woodstock, and its two associated soundtrack albums, the triple-LP Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More (Cotillion, 1970) and double-LP Woodstock Two (Atlantic, 1971)--both audio releases also including bands and/or performances not included in the film--have ultimately failed to tell the real story, and on a number of fronts.

    The good news? With 2019 representing Woodstock's 50th Anniversary, this historic event, attended by well over 400,000 people at Max Yasgur's farm (actually, in one of his hay fields about three miles from his home farm) in Bethel, NY over three days beginning on August 15, 1969, is finally getting the treatment--and verisimilitude--it deserves.

    There are four different versions of Woodstock--Back to the Garden, representing three different sets of track listings. The 42-track triple CD and quintuple LP sets may not contain performances from every act that played the festival, but with music from 21 artists and a small but nevertheless significant variety of announcements, these more budget-friendly releases still provide a more accurate "you are there" experience than any prior audio or video release.

    While intersecting with the original film and soundtrack albums, Woodstock--Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Collection finally corrects the order of events, using material only recorded at the festival, and providing either far less edited or, in most cases, complete versions of music previously more invasively altered. And that's not to mention a vast amount of music that has never been heard on any prior commercial Woodstock releases, audio or video.

    Continue reading here...
    Last edited by jkelman; 08-10-2019 at 06:42 PM.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  3. #3
    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    I would love to have the 38-disc set, but for the facts that I can't afford it and it's sold out (according to the Rhino website), I will pass.
    Lou

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
    I would love to have the 38-disc set, but for the facts that I can't afford it and it's sold out (according to the Rhino website), I will pass.
    Me too, but the 10-disc box is terrific, and it looks like full sets are being released, one or two a week. I've already picked up BS&T and Tim Hardin.
    John Kelman
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  5. #5
    Member Jay.Dee's Avatar
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    Still waiting for the complete box from the Warner's eurostore, but your detailed review is a great teaser!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay.Dee View Post
    Still waiting for the complete box from the Warner's eurostore, but your detailed review is a great teaser!
    You bought the 38 disc box? I'm so jealous!! (But thanks for the kind words!)....
    John Kelman
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  7. #7
    Member Jay.Dee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    You bought the 38 disc box?
    As soon as it was up for pre-order.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Me too, but the 10-disc box is terrific, and it looks like full sets are being released, one or two a week. I've already picked up BS&T and Tim Hardin.
    Thanks for another great review - your research is exhaustive and the whole article was a pleasure to read. IMHO you really should get a complimentary copy of the 38-disc set for your efforts! Shame on Rhino!

    It is good news the full sets are being released individually (as some were a few years ago and Creedence has just done) but I cannot find the two you refer to here after a cursory search. Will these new releases just be in digital format or will they be in CD form, do you know?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    Thanks for another great review - your research is exhaustive and the whole article was a pleasure to read. IMHO you really should get a complimentary copy of the 38-disc set for your efforts! Shame on Rhino!
    Thanks, man! Re: Rhino? I tried but no dice. That was, of course, before the publicist read it (or will read it), so hope springs eternal that he'll reconsider. This was a challenge as (a: there was so. Ugh to write about; and (b) writing up 32 artists was no small challenge, as there were a number with whom I was either largely or completely unaware (Quill, Sweetwater, Bert Sommer not at all; and, as not a fan, only marginally about Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Melanie, and Cannef Heat). Still, barring a few minor gaffs that have since been corrected, I felt pretty good about the end result, overall. Of course, if anyone finds any errors, y'all know I'm happy to hear of them/fix them! But thanks again, man; the feedback has overall been very positive, and for that I'm very, very grateful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    It is good news the full sets are being released individually (as some were a few years ago and Creedence has just done) but I cannot find the two you refer to here after a cursory search. Will these new releases just be in digital format or will they be in CD form, do you know?
    Well some are, but I doubt all will be,between management/contractual issues (Hendrix), artist dissatisfaction with sets (Grateful Drad) and artists who maintain iron fist control (The Band's Robbie Robertson, maybe The Wbo's Pete Townshend).

    And I'd give a body part for The Band's fulll set. How close to Big Pink they sounded was remarkable, and if a little rough around the edges, it only added to the group's charm as "tight as a drum" was never their thing anyway. But I just don't think Robbie Robertson will agree...at the very least, unless he gets to remix/remaster as he likes it, despite the Woodstock mix/master being (a) superb and more respectful to veracity to the festival and overall sonics than Robertson would likely be - witness, despite me liking it very much, his alternate mix of Royal Academy of Music from a few years back (especially the horns), vs Rock of Ages, and his recent 50th Anniversary remix of Big Pink (and I expect no less, alas, if, as I'm sure there will be, a 50th of The Band) which, while I still enjoy it, alters certain things from the original too much...he shoulda called Steven Wilson!

    Thanks again!

    Oh, but as I mention in the review, the full set issues have been coming, maybe a couple a week (Creedence this week, for example). I have bought Blood, Sweat & Tears (was not a huge fan of Clayton-Thomas, but he and the whole band were on fire) and Tim Hardin as a relatively rare live set ... plus, with Ralph Towner & Glen Moore in Hardin's band, hoe could I not? So far, ost have been digital only, AFAIK, but range from streaming in low to high res to downloads ranging from MP3 to 24/95 high res.

    So, hope springs eternal!

    Argh. But I didn't read your post as careful as I should . I bought the high res versions at HDTracks because, while the 10-CD box is available at ProStudioMasters (so, being Canadian bucks, better for me), it seems most single Woodstock titles are not. Og, but another good thing. You buy the 10-disc box not as a 10-disc virtual box, but as three separate buys, one/day (broken down along the same lines as my review). So, if the first day largely doesn is appeal, for example, you don't have to buy it to get days 2 & 3. Here's a link to all Woodstock-related releases at HDTracks (all the current 50th releases - box and separates - you'll find in the first two lines). Hope this helps.
    Last edited by jkelman; 08-11-2019 at 06:48 AM.
    John Kelman
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  10. #10
    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if the Keef Hartley Band's set is included with any of the box sets? I had heard that his manager refused to allow any recording, video and audio, of that performance.
    Lou

    Awarded the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval. It's not just good, it's good enough.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
    Does anyone know if the Keef Hartley Band's set is included with any of the box sets? I had heard that his manager refused to allow any recording, video and audio, of that performance.
    I don't know, but it's my understanding that they did not have enough film to shoot the entire festival. They deliberately saved enough of it, though, to shoot Hendrix's entire set. In fact, part of one Hendrix song ("Hear My Train A'-Comin'?) was not caught on the official film, since they were changing both reels during it. Luckily, there was a guy at the side of the stage who was playing with a new format (Beta video) who caught it. So, they added that footage to the official DVD release. Upon learning that, my question has since been about the audio caught on that Beta video. The band had an interesting vibe with the added percussion that was not caught on the official audio, and I've always wondered if it was on that guy's video. The story goes that the guy who filmed it got a chance to meet Jimi afterward and show him some of the footage he captured.
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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Woodstock was one of those events, I think, that become more 'legendary' the farther you get from it.

    From what I understand -- wasn't there, obviously -- from the movie and the albums and seeing interviews with Michael Lang and numerous articles is that the mud and garbage were epic. Most of the bands were pretty ragged. There was a lot of downtime between sets as they reconfigured the stage. Many of the performers were not that well known, and didn't go over that well with the audience (viz. Sha Na Na). In other words, those who actually were there probably have a vastly different recollection of what it was like.

  13. #13
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
    Does anyone know if the Keef Hartley Band's set is included with any of the box sets? I had heard that his manager refused to allow any recording, video and audio, of that performance.
    From John's review:
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelman
    While some of the multi-tracks had never been touched until Brian Kehew and I played them—the original rubber bands from 1969 were still wrapped around the Keef Hartley Band's performance—others had been extensively chopped up in order to create shorter versions of songs. Finding the pieces that had been removed and returning them to their proper places was a process that, in some cases, took years.
    So it must've been RECORDED, but stashed away and never used?
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelman
    Day Two: The Keef Hartley Band

    The eighteen-minute "Halfbreed Medley" that closes Keef Hartley Band's 45-minute set and brings together three songs from the band's 1969 Decca debut, Keef Hartley Band, is a terrific and wholly representative inclusion in both boxes, with a guitar/horn-heavy lineup that includes, in addition to drummer Hartley, guitarist/vocalist Miller Anderson, bassist Gary Thain and saxophonist Jimmy Jewell, trumpeter/violinist Henry Lowther, who would go on to become a busy session player (in addition to his jazzier proclivities), ultimately playing on albums by Bryan Ferry, Elton John, Richard Thompson and Talk Talk. His lengthy trumpet solo during the vamp-driven "Leaving Trunk," in the middle of the medley, speaks volumes.

    It's unfortunate that Hartley's performance didn't make it into any of the original or subsequent Woodstock films or soundtrack releases; who knows if it might have given the group, which released a subsequent five albums between 1969 and 1972, a greater push into the spotlight?
    Last edited by rcarlberg; 08-11-2019 at 12:01 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
    Does anyone know if the Keef Hartley Band's set is included with any of the box sets? I had heard that his manager refused to allow any recording, video and audio, of that performance.
    Yes. The 18 minute Halfbreed Medley is in the 10CD box, the entire set in the 38...(as I mention in my review )...
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    I don't know, but it's my understanding that they did not have enough film to shoot the entire festival. They deliberately saved enough of it, though, to shoot Hendrix's entire set. In fact, part of one Hendrix song ("Hear My Train A'-Comin'?) was not caught on the official film, since they were changing both reels during it. Luckily, there was a guy at the side of the stage who was playing with a new format (Beta video) who caught it. So, they added that footage to the official DVD release. Upon learning that, my question has since been about the audio caught on that Beta video. The band had an interesting vibe with the added percussion that was not caught on the official audio, and I've always wondered if it was on that guy's video. The story goes that the guy who filmed it got a chance to meet Jimi afterward and show him some of the footage he captured.
    They had plenty of film ... as per my review:

    ...All possible attempts were made, at the time, to ensure faithfully capturing each and every performance accurately, translating into hundreds of hours of film, not to mention two multi-track tapes recording simultaneously.
    And

    A pair of mono reel-to-reel recorders were located onstage, with the intention of capturing direct soundboard feeds by the on-stage crew. .... Over 65 multi-track and one hundred soundboard reels captured the festival, neveetheless, and almost in its entirety.
    You can read more in the review, in the chapter titled 'The Challenge Of Creating WoodstockóBack To The Garden"

    Hope this helps!
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Woodstock was one of those events, I think, that become more 'legendary' the farther you get from it.

    From what I understand -- wasn't there, obviously -- from the movie and the albums and seeing interviews with Michael Lang and numerous articles is that the mud and garbage were epic. Most of the bands were pretty ragged. There was a lot of downtime between sets as they reconfigured the stage. Many of the performers were not that well known, and didn't go over that well with the audience (viz. Sha Na Na). In other words, those who actually were there probably have a vastly different recollection of what it was like.
    Yes, it was god-awful from the perspective of nearly half a million people doing what people must do in a field that became a muddy mess with three rainstorms. Still, that it was largely an audience who may have been high, but were there for a good time, and even with various problems that plagued the festival, contrast itbwith Altamont just a few months later, where )p(as I wrote in my review): "peace and love were replaced by violence and murder." So in resurveyed terms, Woodstock succeeded on many fronts, despite all of the challenges...some surmountable, others not.

    Yes some performances are awful (I identify the ones that were for me in the review), but as, yes, ragged as some others were they were also transcendent, like The Band, Blood, Sweat & Tears and some we know from Wadleigh's film, though in some cases, what you hear in the film is not from Woodstock, ditto the original soundtracks. This has been corrected with the 50th Anniversary, that took more than a decade to put together as they have (again see the chapter "The Challenge Of Creating Woodstock—Back To The Garden"). Barring two songs from Hendrix that the estate refused use to Rhino, every song played at the festival is in the big box, and a very good representation in the 10-disc box.

    They sound better than ever, correct so many wrongs in Wadleigh's film and associated soundtracks, and make available many, many songs for the first time (and every song was recorded at the festival). The sound, while with the occasional wart, has never sounded this good (high res is terrific).

    Yes, those who were there absolutely had a different experience than Wadleigh documented in both versions of his film. But the 50th Anniversary fixes everything: everything but a few announcement tracks on disc 38, which are intentionally kept separate because they could not place them accurately in the timeline, is, in every version of the 50th, in proper chronological order. Even when you get mini-sets in the 10-disc box, they're still chronologically correct; every performance is restored from the original Woodstock tapes; edited songs are, for the most part completely restored to full, original length..."

    ...in other words, as an audio documentation of Woodstock, the 50th Anniversary is the closest you'll get to being there, including the not so good aspects of it.

    Oh, yeah, and they did, indeed, have a revolving stage to set up the next band while the other was playingn the problem is: it rarely worked
    Last edited by jkelman; 08-11-2019 at 12:44 PM.
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  17. #17
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Does the 38-disc set come with a handful of mud and some bad brown acid?

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Does the 38-disc set come with a handful of mud and some bad brown acid?
    John Kelman
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  19. #19
    I heard each set comes with reproductions of Wavy Gravy's missing teeth.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    I heard each set comes with reproductions of Wavy Gravy's missing teeth.
    I repeat, so worth it I'll do it twice:
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  21. #21
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Indeed. I did mention this one because it was not declined, at least, without the reason I've mentioned before:

    Chicago, at the time still known as the Chicago Transit Authority, had initially been signed on to play at Woodstock. However, they had a contract with concert promoter Bill Graham, which allowed him to move Chicago's concerts at the Fillmore West. He rescheduled some of their dates to August 17, thus forcing the band to back out of the concert. Graham did so to ensure that Santana, which he managed at the time, would take their slot at the festival. According to singer and bassist Peter Cetera, "We were sort of peeved at him for pulling that one.
    Not that it hurt their burgeoning success, but still, Graham was a real bastard for pulling his "stunt."

    I'd read about Iron Butterfly, but love this (talk about legends in their own minds!):

    ron Butterfly was booked to appear, and is listed on the Woodstock poster for a Sunday performance, but could not perform because they were stuck at LaGuardia Airport.[71] According to Production Coordinator John Morris, "They sent me a telegram saying, 'We will arrive at LaGuardia. You will have helicopters pick us up. We will fly straight to the show. We will perform immediately, and then we will be flown out.' And I picked up the phone and called Western Union ... And [my telegram] said: 'For reasons I can't go into / Until you are here / Clarifying your situation / Knowing you are having problems / You will have to find / Other transportation / Unless you plan not to come.'" The first letter of each line in the telegram spelled out an acrostic making clear that Iron Butterfly was not welcome
    John Kelman
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post


    My review of Woodstock—Back To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience, today at All About Jazz...[/URL]
    I skimmed your review hoping to get back to it and read it more thoroughly when I have more time. But I had a question about the footage used for Hendrix's Star-Spangled banner in the original film as well as the Director's Cut. The cameraman apparently seems to forget that Hendrix PLAYS THE GUITAR! Quite well, I might add. So why does the footage only show Jimi mostly in the lower right corner of the screen, his hands offscreen? And on Youtube, I've seen great footage of him from the front of the stage, clearly showing everything he is doing. Why wasn't this footage used in the original film?
    Man you guys take awfully seriously a bunch of pampered, spoiled twenty and thirty something year old jocks earning millions of dollars to play a game running up and down a field. Why do you care so much about these guys to the point of arguing with each other. Do you think they care an iota about you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Woodstock was one of those events, I think, that become more 'legendary' the farther you get from it.
    I've worked with two people in two different companies who were at Woodstock. The first kind of shrugged his shoulders and acted as if it wasn't that big of a deal. The second kind of smiles and says that, from what he remembers of it, it was an awesome time. Though he sheepishly admits to spending some time in the OD tent. He said Hendrix was incredible.
    Man you guys take awfully seriously a bunch of pampered, spoiled twenty and thirty something year old jocks earning millions of dollars to play a game running up and down a field. Why do you care so much about these guys to the point of arguing with each other. Do you think they care an iota about you?

    Bartellb on pro football

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Painter View Post
    I skimmed your review hoping to get back to it and read it more thoroughly when I have more time. But I had a question about the footage used for Hendrix's Star-Spangled banner in the original film as well as the Director's Cut. The cameraman apparently seems to forget that Hendrix PLAYS THE GUITAR! Quite well, I might add. So why does the footage only show Jimi mostly in the lower right corner of the screen, his hands offscreen? And on Youtube, I've seen great footage of him from the front of the stage, clearly showing everything he is doing. Why wasn't this footage used in the original film?
    Yes, the footage sucks, and it was a technique of the times, not limited to this festival, regretfully. But it was all rectified in the official Hendrix DVD release, thankfully.
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