Woodstock: Ultimate Collector's Edition

5 out of 5 stars
FRINGE BENEFITS Hendrix models a cool jacket, plays some hot licks.
FRINGE BENEFITS Hendrix models a cool jacket, plays some hot licks.

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Wow, the epoch-defining concert is turning the big 4-0? Far out, man.... While we don’t want to cast aspersions on the collective memory of the Aquarian generation (didn’t their tobacco smell funny?), it’s entirely thanks to Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary that those seminal “three days of peace and music” have remained such a consistent cultural touchstone. This mammoth, three-disc collector’s edition restores 40-plus minutes to the festival’s moving, grooving memorial, with additions ranging from the must-see (more Hendrix) to the fast-forward appropriate (more blathering hippies, more Richie Havens).

It’s the third disc, however, that’s the true treasure trove, boasting never-before-seen footage from a baker’s dozen of featured bands. Ever wondered what Creedence Clearwater Revival or Mountain’s sets sounded like, or if the Grateful Dead’s 38-minute version (!) of “Turn on Your Love Light” was the epitome of their noodling self-indulgence? You can now judge for yourself and bask in new clips of the Who, Jefferson Airplane and Santana that cement their reputations as take-no-prisoners live acts.

The rest of the extras include large portions of a vintage Playboy After Dark talk-show episode in which Hugh Hefner raps with Wadleigh about the doc, and a series of wobbly five-minute featurettes that cover everything from the film stock used to the critical reception the movie received upon its release. (Why they didn’t edit these interviews—from Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, festival producer Mike Lang and others—into a chronological, coherent whole is both a mystery and a major letdown.) But as a commemorative look back at the boomer’s utopian high point, this box set more than fulfills its duties. You absolutely will dig it.—David Fear

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