This summer marks the 40th Anniversary of 1969's historic Woodstock Music And Arts Festival. As part of the celebration, Sony/Legacy Recordings is releasing a limited edition series of deluxe, double disc recordings by five of the artists whose performances at Woodstock changed the world.
Dubbed The Woodstock Experience, each double-CD set pairs a classic 1969 album from the featured artist, along with their full festival performance. All of the concert recordings — by Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Sly And The Family Stone, and Santana — appear on these CDs in their entirety for the first time ever. All are packaged in eco-friendly sleeves, that include a mini-version of the original album cover and a 16 X 20 inch double-sided fold-out poster. With this series, which we are also calling The Woodstock Experience, Blogcritics will be reviewing each of these commemorative sets.
When I was thirteen years old, I saw Janis Joplin play at an outdoor concert held at Seattle's Sicks Stadium, the former home of our then pro-baseball team the Seattle Pilots. Jimi Hendrix also played there just a few weeks later — a show I also saw. Tragically, both would be dead just a few months later.
I was also able to meet Janis at that show. As the helicopter flew her in and she walked past the fence separating the makeshift backstage area from the crowd, I shouted over to her, "Hey Janis! Why weren't you in the movie Woodstock?"
The stuff a kid meeting one of his idols thinks to ask given the opportunity, right? Taking a swig from her bottle of Southern Comfort, she looked back at me and replied, "Probably because I didn't do the editing."
That mistake has now thankfully been rectified.
Janis is finally featured on The Woodstock Experience, a double-disc set coupling her complete Woodstock performance with her 1969 album, I Got Dem' Ol' Kozmic Blues Again, Mama!
As with the other artists in this series, the package on Kozmic Blues recreates the original album jacket in miniature form, right down to the red Columbia logo on the disc. There's nothing really fancy here, nor any extras like bonus tracks. But it's all still very nicely done.
Kozmic Blues is arguably Janis Joplin's most underrated album. There were not really any huge hits here, such as there was with Cheap Thrills ("Piece Of My Heart") before it, or with Pearl ("Me And Bobby McGee") after. But the album does feature some very nice work, and has more than its share of standouts.
The idea at the time was to re-position Janis as more of a mainstream solo act, following her time with psychedelic rockers Big Brother & The Holding Company — a band who too often got a bit of a rub from some people as being too sloppy or otherwise somehow beneath Joplin's obviously monumental talent as a vocalist. As a fan, I never bought into that argument for a second.