Woodstock: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (DVD)

Various Artists

Warner Brothers, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Four decades have passed since Woodstock and the festival has now taken on an almost mythic status. It was one of the defining events of a generation. That generation has grown old, and since I was nineteen years old in 1969, I have grown old along with it.

And so it was with a great deal of anticipation that I purchased Woodstock: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition. While you can never truly go back, I thought it would be nice to visit for a few hours.

This three-disc box set comes with a number of extras. There is a reprint of the 1969 Life magazine special edition, which is filled with photos and commentary about the festival. There is an acrylic paperweight (which I am not sure what to do with, to tell you the truth.) There is a pamphlet that presents just about every statistic you could imagine. There were 600 portable toilets, the stage was 80 feet wide, 400,000 attendees and marijuana was $16.00 an ounce. Anyway, you get the picture. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The foundation of the collection, however, remains the music and the resulting experience. The original movie returns in a director’s cut format. It is significantly longer, which is good news and bad news. The good news is that a number of performances have been added, which allows some of the artists to present a better example of their concert style at the time. It is also historically interesting, as some of these performances have not seen the light of day for forty years.  On the negative side, the original movie tried to present the Woodstock experience and the music was interwoven with interviews and scenes from the festival. It all worked well on the original release, but here, the extra music lengthens the film so much that it ultimately has more of a concert feel than an overview of the entire festival.

There is an entire disc of never before seen performances. They include songs by The Grateful Dead, with an incredibly young Jerry Garcia, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Both groups did not appear in the film or on any of the original vinyl releases. Some highlights from this disc include “My Generation” by The Who, “3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds” by The Jefferson Airplane,” “I’m Her Man” by Canned Heat, and “Turn On Your Love Light” by The Grateful Dead. I was a tad disappointed that there is still no released footage of The Band, The Incredible String Band, Tim Hardin, or Blood, Sweat & Tears, but maybe they are saving it for the 50th anniversary.

The Woodstock generation and experience is now a pleasant memory. A hundred days after Woodstock, the Altamont festival would bring a quick halt to the Summer Of Love concept. Jerry Garcia, Jimi, Janis, Keith Moon and many other performers have passed away, cutting ties to this era. Today, all we are left with is the memories.

Woodstock: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition is a long and sprawling affair that examines the culture of a generation of youth through music. This collection can be explored either from a historical perspective or just for the music itself.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.