26 July 2010


Rock and Roll has never been more vital than it was in 1969.  The genre itself began to splinter, producing artists in genres that would themselves lead on to produce every form of music we listen to today. Albums released in 1969 read like a list of first-of-their-kinds: eponymous debuts by The Stooges, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin, Yes and Mott The Hoople (who would all straddle the maelstrom in the 70’s) King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King, Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left:  there are quite simply too many to name.


Considering how many acts were beginning their respective journeys, the line-up of Woodstock could be read as something of a 60’s farewell. Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar and Jimi Hendrix are all artists that we place squarely in the 60’s; the Grateful Dead, The Who and Santana all transcend generations, and would go on to further (sometimes greater) success. Few of them were ever as powerful as at Woodstock.

\r\nWoodstock: UCE 40th Anniversary is almost 4 hours long, and contains many performances omitted from the original film. It also includes footage showing the festival-goers, organisers and relief workers who perhaps didn’t enjoy the epoch-making moment as much as everyone who could watch it from home, forced as they were to cope with the trials and tribulations of hundreds of thousands of acid-related wig-outs, sporadic violence and bouts of artistic tantrum-throwing (the Who refused to go on stage for 8 hours after being told that practically every beverage item backstage, including ice cubes, had been spiked with acid). Like the festival, the film gets across the idea that at times, just surviving the whole thing was a keen focus for many of those involved.