ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 2, 2009
By Steve Newton
Music historians often make Woodstock out to be the greatest concert happening of all time, but after slogging through this six-disc set I’m not so sure. The sociopolitical ramifications of the three-day event were immense, no doubt, but there sure were some questionable performances at Max Yasgur’s farm back in the summer of ’69.
The hippies must have been too wasted to notice.
Besides insufferable sets by second-rate acts such as Bert Sommer, Quill, and dreadful ’50s revivalists Sha Na Na, 40 Years On gets bogged down with more than a dozen public-service announcements by emcees John Morris and Chip Monck. How many times do you need to hear someone requesting so-and-so report to the information booth, or warning folks about bad acid. It’s slightly more enjoyable to hear Abbie Hoffman grab the mike right after the Who finishes “Pinball Wizard” and rant about the injustice of poet and White Panther Party leader John Sinclair getting 10 years in jail for two joints.
Even more enjoyable than that is hearing Pete Townshend order the outraged activist to get off his fucking stage.
If it weren’t for the inspired contributions by Canned Heat, Mountain, CCR, Johnny Winter—and of course showstopper Jimi Hendrix—this package would be a total bummer, man. Just like the poison in those tabs of blue acid.