Woodstock rarities unearthed on boxed set

Fri Jun 5, 2009 11:19pm EDT
 
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By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Billboard) - Thirty-eight previously unreleased recordings from groups such as the Who, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane will be included on a boxed set commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival.

The six-CD, 77-song collection, "Woodstock -- 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm," will be released by Rhino on August 18.

Among the highlights are a 19-minute rendition of the Dead's "Dark Star," "Amazing Journey" and "Pinball Wizard" by the Who, "Feelin' Alright" by Joe Cocker, CCR's "Bad Moon Rising," Blood Sweat and Tears' "You've Made Me So Very Happy" and tracks from Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Tim Hardin, Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, Melanie, Country Joe & the Fish, Sha Na Na, the Butterfield Blues Band and Johnny Winter.

The set, whose retail list price is $79.98, also restores full-length performances of Canned Heat's "Woodstock Boogie" (to a whopping 30 minutes) and the Who's "We're Not Gonna Take It," and it includes the never-released Woodstock performances of Arlo Guthrie's "Coming Into Los Angeles" and Mountain's "Theme for an Imaginary Western," which were replaced by better-sounding recordings from other concerts for the original "Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music" soundtrack.

The track lineup reflects the actual performance order of the legendary 1969 festival, and it includes stage announcements (you still need to avoid the brown acid, apparently), Wavy Gravy's announcement of "breakfast in bed" for the crowd estimated at 500,000, Max Yasgur's famous speech to the audience and audio of Abbie Hoffman's encounter with Who guitarist Pete Townshend.

"This will be the most comprehensive collection of Woodstock music yet," Rhino vice president of A&R Cheryl Pawelski told Billboard.com. "The goal was to make it as real as possible ... as authentic an experience as possible. It feels like dirt. It feels like a field. We wanted to take you there. We worked very hard to make it a true document of that time."

Co-producers Andy Zax and Mason Williams compiled "Woodstock -- 40 Years On" from the original multitrack tapes recorded during the festival.

One performance is conspicuously absent; Pawelski says Ten Years After would not clear the use of its performance -- including its epic version of "Goin' Home" -- for the boxed set. The Band and Keef Hartley were the only other acts that opted out of the set.   Continued...