Goddamn, it’s over. Time to pack up the Microbus and get back to school, to work, to the commune or the barracks. I kicked this series off almost six months ago, and it’s been a real thrill following one Woodstock artist per week since then. But what’s left do after Hendrix has taken his last bow but to pick up a little a little trash on my way out?
The real purpose behind “The (Kind Of) Complete Woodstock” was to see how much of the celebrated festival I could compile on my own. I’m adamant about paying my own freight when it comes to music. Sure, there are many places online where you can download everything I compiled for free, but where’s the fun in that?
That being said, Warner Brothers maintains their stranglehold on the Woodstock material, and where they’ve been unwilling or unable to release tracks I don’t feel horribly guilty about buying a bootleg or enjoying a YouTube clip. But listen, Warners, release a comprehensive Woodstock box and I’m there. I’m not the only one, either. There’s lots of suckers out there who will pay for a 20 CD box. We’re honest people you know, don’t believe the hype.
(Update: On August 2, 2019, Rhino Records released Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary. With exception to two Hendrix tracks and one Sha Na Na cut, the massive box set contains complete sets from every Woodstock artist—even those long believed lost or never recorded. The entire limited edition of 1,969 units sold out before it was even released, though, so unless you find one on the secondary market compiling your own (kind of) complete Woodstock remains the way to go.)
The biggest surprise of this series was Bert Sommer, whose “Jennifer” is absolutely chilling. No, that’s hyperbole. Bert Sommer is the whole reason that I wrote this series. How this guy vanished is beyond me.
But there are many amazing performances from Woodstock, and a couple of pretty cruddy ones, too. By my tally there were 319 songs performed at Woodstock, and if you’re motivated to do so you can get 227 of them into your stacks. That’s over 70% of the most famous music festival of all time, not too shabby. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Woodstock: 40 Years on: Back to Yasgur’s Farm [6 CD Box set]: Rhino’s box set is the backbone of a good Woodstock collection. The set includes 78 songs and lots of stage announcements, not to be missed.
- Woodstock: The Director’s Cut Ultimate Collector’s Edition [DVD]: There are lots of versions of Michael Wadleigh’s film out there, but the special editions for Amazon and Target are the most comprehensive. Forty-four cuts, but keep in mind that there’s some redundancy from set to set. It’s unavoidable.
- “The Woodstock Experience” CD series: Complete (or nearly complete) sets from Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, and Santana. Buy the box set and you’ll get not only five CDs of Woodstock sets but also the corresponding studio albums. Sweet deal! 48 Woodstock tracks.
- Woodstock: 25th Anniversary [CD Box Set]: Contains 41 tracks, but if you pick up everything else on this list you’ll almost be covered. This is the official version, though, for the following: “If I Were A Carpenter,” Tim Hardin; “Walking Down the Line,” Arlo Guthrie; ” A Change Is Gonna Come / Leaving This Town,” Canned Heat; “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)” and “Commotion,” Creedence Clearwater Revival; “Long Black Veil,” “The Weight,” and “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” The Band.
- Joe Cocker Live At Woodstock: Damn them for leaving off the two non-Joe Grease Band cuts, but essential Woodstock nonetheless. Eleven jams, with only “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Feelin’ Alright,” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” duplicated elsewhere. A must have.
- Jimi Hendrix: Live At Woodstock [CD and DVD]. Mandatory listening. Jimi’s full set with exception to “Mastermind” and “Gypsy Woman.”
- Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock Nation [bootleg}: Fills in the two missing tracks from the official release.
- Woodstock Diary 1969 [DVD]: You need it for “I Can’t Make It Anymore” by Richie Havens and “Waitin’ For You” from the long forgotten Quill, “(Thing Called) Love” by Country Joe and the Fish, and “Duke of Earl” from Sha Na Na. The DVD includes 32 tracks in all, but those are your unique ones.
- Sweetwater: Cycles: The Reprise Collection [CD]: Includes a lot of non-Woodstock tracks, but you’ll get an official version of “What’s Wrong.”
- Ravi Shankar at the Woodstock Festival [CD]: By most accounts a studio recording with crowd “sweetening,” but fuck it — this is official as it gets for Ravi’s complete set.
- The Life and Times of Country Joe and the Fish From Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock [CD]: Your resource for “The Love Machine” and The Fish version of the “Fish Cheer / I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” (the version you know is solo Country Joe). Includes lots of non-Woodstock Country Joe. Good stuff!
- Woodstock: The Lost Performances [VHS]: Look, if you didn’t want to go into the woods you shouldn’t have followed me. This is a deep one, but it will get you “Strawberry Fields” from Richie Havens, “We Shall Overcome” by Joan Baez, Country Joe’s “Rockin’ Round the World,” “I Had A Dream” by John Sebastian, “More and More” from Blood, Sweat and Tears, and “Drifting Blues” from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Fifteen cuts in all, but those are your must-haves.
- Mountain: Live at the Woodstock Festival / New Canaan HS 1969 [bootleg]: Mountain’s full set minus “Blind Man” and “Dirty Shoe Blues,” which I can’t confirm were actually part of their set.
- The Who Woodstock 1969 [bootleg]: Full set, worth whatever you pay.
- The Band: 1969-08-17 Woodstock Sun1030pm [bootleg]: You’ll catch a couple of tracks on official releases, but this is their complete set.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival: CCR Live At Woodstock/Woodstock ’69 [bootleg]: see The Band entry above.
- Grateful Dead: 1969-08-16 Woodstock, Bethel, NY (Warlock Stock) [bootleg]: It’s their complete set, love it or hate it. Note: This is the version you want. There’s another bootleg kicking around that is an audience recording, very poor quality.
- YouTube: Look, you can probably find all of this on YouTube. That’s not the point. Here are the songs that can’t be found on official releases or readily available bootlegs, so YouTube it is: “Janis” and “Seen A Rocket,” Country Joe McDonald; “Invocation (Spoken Word)” and “This Moment,” The Incredible String Band; “Woodstock Boogie,” Canned Heat; “Something’s Coming On” and “Spinning Wheel,” Blood, Sweat & Tears; “Helplessly Hoping,” Crosby, Stills & Nash; “Jailhouse Rock” and “(Who Wrote) The Book Of Love,” Sha Na Na.
What You Don’t Need:
- Woodstock, The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. If you have the above, there’s nothing on here that you don’t already have.
- Woodstock Two: Ditto.
- Woodstock 40 [CD]: Ditto.
- Woodstock Diary [CD]: Ditto.
- Richie Havens: Resume the Best of [CD]: Includes “Freedom,” which is on pretty much every Woodstock compilation.
- The Who: Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B [CD box set]: You need this box because it is essential Who listening, but in terms of Woodstock it contains only “Underture,” and you’ll get that on the bootleg listed above.
- Setlist: The Very Best Of Mountain [CD}: This is the only official place to pick up “Long Red” and “Waiting To Take You Away,” but if you pick up the bootleg listed above you’ll get them along with the rest. Note that the audio is much better on Setlist, though.
Well, that’s it. I bid you peace, love, and happiness. Do you have suggestions for another series? I’m listening.