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The Woodstock Experience: Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Johnny Winter

by Kevin Wierzbicki

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The market has been inundated this year with all kinds of releases commemorating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, almost to the point of causing a bit of confusion for the buyer. But Legacy Records has come up with a great idea here and a way for fans to get a heavy Woodstock-era dose of their favorite performer perhaps without wading through music by acts they're not into. The five releases in the The Woodstock Experience series are all 2-CD sets with one disc featuring the act's complete live performance from the festival while the other disc is the hit studio album that the act had out at the time or was about to release. None of these Woodstock performances have been released in their entirety before so there is "new" music on each of the live discs. The packaging has been very well done too; both discs come in cardboard slipcovers with inner sleeves like miniature versions of the vinyl albums of the day and the studio disc comes in a replica of its original cover. Each package comes with a poster unique to its performer and the whole lot is housed in a sturdy outer slipcover ensuring that the memorabilia will, like all of the music here, stand the test of time.

The Woodstock Experience: Jefferson Airplane
The studio album included here, Volunteers, was released after their Woodstock appearance but the band previewed three of the album's songs during their set; "Eskimo Blue Day," "Wooden Ships" and the forceful cry for social change, "Volunteers." The band opted not to play live what would seem to be an obvious choice from Volunteers; the lead-off track "We Can Be Together." About half of the Airplane's live set has never been released before, in fact their set is so long that part of it is tacked on to the end of the Volunteers disc. Among the seven live cuts that you can hear here for the first time are "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds," "Come Back Baby" and "The House at Pooneil Corners."

Janis Joplin
I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
is the studio album included here and it too was released shortly after her Woodstock appearance. Joplin previewed most of the record during her Woodstock set though, including the album's standout track "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)." Joplin was one of the fan favorites at Woodstock and as such most of her live set has already been released but "Raise Your Hand," "As Good as You've Been to This World" and "Can't Turn You Loose" are available here for the first time.

Santana
For all intents and purposes this superstar's career kicked off at Woodstock; his self-titled debut album came out right after the festival and he previewed everything on Santana during his live set except for "Shades of Time" and "Treat." The guitarist replaces those songs here with his set closer, "Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries." The only previously unheard live cut here is a version of the massive hit "Evil Ways."

Sly and the Family Stone
The studio album included in the package is Stand! and Sly played most of its tracks at Woodstock. Oddly enough most of this material has until now been unissued; amongst the funky pop numbers now available here live are "Sing a Simple Song," "Everyday People," "Love City," "Stand!," "M'Lady" and "You Can Make It If You Try." At one point during the set Stone is heard complaining about equipment problems but whatever he's referring to doesn't affect the recorded sound.

Johnny Winter
Winter was certainly the least-known of these five acts but he was the one that had a current album out at the time of the festival, his self-titled debut. As a typical bluesman though Winter already had a very wide repertoire and he chose to play only one song from Johnny Winter at the festival, "Leland Mississippi Blues." And as one of the lesser artists, only one of his Woodstock cuts, "Mean Town Blues," has been released before. So fans can feast on seven previously unissued tunes here including "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now," "Mama, Talk to Your Daughter" and "Tobacco Road," one of three songs performed where Johnny's brother Edgar sits in.


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