An interesting concept. There are 10 CDs here, 5 of which were the original CDs from 1969, and the other 5 are the full performances of the bands at Woodstock. The 5 bands included here are Sly & The Family Stone, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin & Johnny Winter. The price for the set is fair if you catch it while it’s on sale. I’m one of those who have the original CDs already on CD, and it doesn’t thrill me that these are simply re-packaged. If I were the CEO at Sony I would have pushed harder for including 5 more Woodstock-only CDs. Of course, there’s a very good chance the CEO at Sony wasn’t even born when Woodstock happened, so there’s already a disconnect.
The great thing here is also an aggravating thing. Many of us bought the Santana Legacy CDs – which included the demos of the original CD & the Woodstock performance. Lo and behold, the Woodstock performance here includes one more unreleased song! The good news is these CDs are all available separately, so if you are a Santana completist, you will not have to purchase the whole set.
The Airplane set at Woodstock ran longer than a CD, so that one runs over into their 1969 release, Volunteers. The Janis Joplin set is exactly what’s been available through collectors for many years now. The Johnny Winter set sounds great, and has better sound than the collectors set. The true excellence here is the Sly & The Family Stone set, which has 3 songs that are not on the collectors set.
The collectors set runs 20 CDs. Many of those are just partial shows. Somewhere there’s a vault with the rest in them, and it looks like we’ll have to wait for the 50th anniversary to get more. Some that have been officially released are Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and John Sebastian. They’re often stuck in the midst of something (for example, Sebastian’s set was stuck in a box set). Trying to put together a Woodstock-only collection has been a hobbyist’s nightmare for years. Many were hoping the 40th would see the floodgates open. There’s also the question of how many more will still be here to purchase the sets 10 years from now!
There’re some stories around, for example: “anyone who says they remember Woodstock could not have really been there.” There’re also stories about how poor the music actually was. Well, I wasn’t present at Woodstock for these performances, perhaps that’s in retrospect a good thing. But I’ve heard many performances, the present 5 sets included, and the music was/is fantastic. You will think of Joplin differently after listening to this. Picture Sly & The Family Stone in the wee hours of the morning & all the energy they are unleashing! Johnny Winter – sweet performances here. Santana was captured on film – so multiply the movie performance by several more great songs. Jefferson Airplane – no comment.
I’m thinking like this – if you are a completist, no question – good investment. If you have nothing from Woodstock, this is as good a place as any to start. If you’re simply curious, I’m betting there will be someone like me in your town in the middle of August blasting their speakers loud enough for you to hear. These 5 CDs alone run close to 6 hours. Enjoy!
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