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.
1969 was a strange year for the Jefferson Airplane.
Not only did the band play at Woodstock (they were actually the first band to sign on) — they also released their final album with what most fans agree is their classic lineup, Volunteers.
They would close out the same year by playing the notorious Altamont festival — the free "Woodstock West" headlined by the Rolling Stones which became as infamous for its darkness and murder as Woodstock was for its peace, love, and music. By that time, though, the Airplane themselves were a band already in its own considerable state of disarray.
By contrast, Jefferson Airplane's performance at Woodstock was a triumph, even if it was a stoned one. On the just released Woodstock Experience, that complete performance is captured for the first time, and coupled with that same original band's great Volunteers swansong album.
Although there's nothing really new to offer fans on the Volunteers part of this set (mainly because there is already a mostly superior remastered recording available), the repackaging here is still nicely, if modestly done. The album cover is reproduced in a nice mini sleeve, right down to the disc itself, which is colored in beautiful, 1969 RCA Records vintage orange. Nice touch there.
The music itself has also aged quite well. Opening and closing with "We Can Be Together" and "Volunteers" respectively — the band rocks ferociously as Grace Slick and Paul Kantner bark out their incendiary call to revolution with lines like "up against the wall, motherfuckers."