Tag Archives: Woodstock

Rocks In The Attic #823: Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Live At Woodstock’ (1969)

RITA#823One of my favourite moments of 2019 was tuning into an American radio station that was broadcasting the original Woodstock festival in real-time, fifty years to the day. And of course, one of the highlights of that weekend was hearing Creedence’s Saturday night set.

The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh, is slightly misleading in its portrayal of the festival. Several key acts are omitted from the film – The Band, The Grateful Dead, Creedence and Blood, Sweat & Tears – and so it’s easy to forget that these bands took part at all.

RITA#823aHearing Creedence’s incendiary 55-minute performance, finally released on vinyl by Fantasy Records in 2019, it’s incredible that the band didn’t appear in the film because John Fogerty thought their performance was sub-par. It’s definitely a no-nonsense set, filled with the highlights of their first three albums, but it’s a blazing performance. Fogerty later claimed that the Grateful Dead, who played immediately before them, sent the audience to sleep. Bloody hippies.

This marks the seventh individual performance in my Woodstock collection. I’m hoping for more releases in 2020, as there are still some big names missing. It can only be a matter of time before CSNY, The Band and The Who, are released, but I’d like to see some of the smaller names get some attention. I have my fingers crossed to get my hands on the sets by Canned Heat, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Joe Cocker.

Hit: Proud Mary

Hidden Gem: Bootleg

RITA#823b

Rocks In The Attic #787: Jefferson Airplane – ‘Woodstock, Sunday, August 17, 1969′ (1969)

RITA#787To say that they were both the intended headliners (of the Saturday and Sunday nights respectively), both Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix did a hell of a lot of endless jamming during their sets. It’s taken me years to appreciate Hendrix’s set, I fear it may take me even longer to appreciate the Airplane’s.

The sixth individual Woodstock performance LP in my collection (joining Santana, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix), this marks the first time Jefferson’s Airplane early Sunday morning set has been available on vinyl.

RITA#787aThere’s definitely something causing this rambling lack of focus – possibly a mixture of tiredness, the after-effects of drugs, and a general bubbling anger at having to play at such an ungodly hour in the morning. Or maybe it just helps when you’re stone-cold sober and pregnant, like Joan Baez during her far more coherent Friday headline slot.

Still, the Airplane’s set delivers some real gems. Somebody To Love gets rolled out two songs in, and the band preview their upcoming studio album Volunteers by playing the title track and their version of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Wooden Ships (co-written by Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner with Stills and Crosby). This song would also be performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young during the electric part of their set later that day.

RITA#787bBut this is Woodstock, and so the highlight of Jefferson Airplane’s 90-minute set is Grace Slick’s hippy anthem, White Rabbit, which makes an appearance as their penultimate song of the morning. Forget Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock, written later in a fit of regret and jealousy at having missed out on the proceedings, this is the song that defines the festival.

This album is the latest in a range of individual Woodstock performance LPs – long may they continue – with this one released by Real Gone Music. It’s a triple-LP in ‘New Dawn’ transparent blue vinyl, housed in a three-panel gatefold sleeve with liner notes. A free gift came with the album when purchased directly from Real Gone’s website – a Jefferson Airplane pillbox with three sections in the shape of the CND / peace symbol – perfect for storing your brown, green and orange LSD.

Hit: Somebody To Love

Hidden Gem: Volunteers

RITA#787e

Rocks In The Attic #782: Santana – ‘Woodstock, Saturday, August 16, 1969’ (1969)

RITA#782Featuring a 20-year old Michael Shrieve on drums, the youngest performer at the festival, Santana’s set at Woodstock started at 2pm on the Saturday afternoon. Carlos Santana was only 21 himself, as he walked onto the stage, virtually unknown. 45 minutes later he’d be a household name in the making.

Soul Sacrifice is easily a standout performance on Michael Wadleigh’s documentary film of the festival, and Shrieve’s blustering drum fills are a big reason why. It’s one of my favourite moments in the film. I’ve never liked the night-time performances in the film, as the lighting rig was extremely basic, but these daytime performances in the stark sunshine of New York state look amazing.

RITA#782abHaving read about the forgettable performances which took place during the Friday, it almost feels like Santana kick-started the festival when they played on the Saturday afternoon. Having listened to WXPN’s online stream of the festival in “real time” to mark its 50th anniversary last weekend, it appears that the next band to play with anywhere close to the same kind of energy was Creedence, ten hours later in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Hendrix’s 3 x LP set has long been a regular visitor to my turntable, but these individual performance Woodstock LPs that have started to see the light of day in the last couple of years are great, and are starting to become quite an addiction. Santana’s set was released for Record Store Day in 2017, and this year’s Record Store Day also added performances by Janis Joplin and The Kozmic Blues Band, and Sly And The Family Stone to my collection. I’ve also recently acquired Johnny Winter’s performance (spoiler alert: that albino genius can PLAY the guitar, although his singing sounds like Bobcat Goldthwait), and Jefferson Airplane’s 3 x LP set is en route.

RITA#782b
My fingers are crossed for Sha-Na-Na’s performance to be released for Record Store Day 2020. I can see the gold lamé jumpsuits now…

Hit: Soul Sacrifice

Hidden Gem: Waiting

RITA#782c

Rocks In The Attic #781: Various Artists – ‘Easy Rider (O.S.T.)’ (1969)

RITA#781Peter Fonda died on the weekend. The original Captain America from 1969’s New Hollywood hit Easy Rider, he co-wrote the film alongside Terry Southern and director and co-star Dennis Hopper. It almost seems like fate that Fonda would pass away on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival. You’d be far pushed to find a more appropriate icon of that period in American counterculture.

All weekend I listened to WXPN’s live stream of the ’69 Woodstock festival, aired as close to ‘real time’ as possible, including all of the stage announcements and weather delays. It seemed to be streaming about 24 hours ahead of time, as they were streaming it by date rather than sticking to the Friday to Monday morning timeframe. Still, it was great to tune in to listen to most of the sets.

RITA#781aNot only were there quite a lot of forgettable acts early on in the festival, it also sounded very chaotic with the stage announcements offering a glimpse at the bedlam going on between sets. Lost thyroid pills and lost people, broken limbs, bad brown acid to avoid, and hitchhikers hoping to get back into the car they arrived in to get their ‘medication’. The coming of the huge storm minutes after Joe Cocker’s set sounded like the end of times.

Of the dozens of bands who missed out or turned down playing the festival, the funniest story is surely that of Iron Butterfly. Stuck at an airport, they sent a telegram to the festival: ‘We will arrive at LaGuardia / You will have helicopters pick us up / We will fly straight to the show / We will perform immediately / And then we will be flown out.’ Production co-ordinator John Morris sent a telegram back in reply: ‘For reasons I can’t go into / Until you are here / Clarifying your situation / Knowing you are having problems / You will have to find / Other transportation / Unless you plan not to come.’ The first letter of each line of his acrostic reply spelled out his true feelings.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Easy Rider. It’s one of those films that obviously needed to happen, as an important stepping stone in wrestling power away from the studios and into the hands of writers and directors, but as a piece of art I don’t think it’s dated terribly well. In fact, after the opening thrill of Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild, the rest of the picture is a bit of a slog. It probably works better when you’re high?

But if this film opened the door and led to Coppola making The Godfather, or Friedkin making The Exorcist, and ultimately to Spielberg’s Jaws and Lucas’ Star Wars, then it’s more than alright by me.

Hit: Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

Hidden Gem: The Pusher – Steppenwolf

RITA#781b

Rocks In The Attic #738: Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Creedence Gold’ (1972)

rita#738Our weekly Wednesday night pub quiz had a great question the other night. There’s a round called The List where you have to, erm, list ten of something. It’s either something boring – the ten longest rivers of the world, or the ten countries with the highest population, for example – or it will be something from popular culture. Ten Tintin books, ten films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ten Oscar nominations for Meryl Streep have been my favourites so far.

I’m waiting for the day that the question relates to the James Bond films…

The trick is that you only get points for an unbroken run of answers, so if you get your eighth answer wrong, you would only get seven points (even if answers nine and ten are correct). In other words, the strategy is to put down your dead-certs first, with anything you’re unsure about down at the bottom of the list.

Last weeks’ question was to name any ten of the twenty-two bands that played at the original Woodstock festival in 1969. Now, I could name ten artists who played quite easily, but the question clearly stated ‘bands’ and so it was much, much trickier.

rita#738a
Not only could I not remember some of the more obscure band names, but I also doubted how accurate the answers would be. Would they know, for example, that Hendrix’s band on the day wasn’t the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but the little-known Gypsy Sun & Rainbows? In the end, it turns out the quiz company did know this (they even had Hendrix’s second name when he referred to them as a plain ol’ Band Of Gypsies), but I was so confident that they wouldn’t, that I put it down as my tenth answer.

I got a pitiful six correct:
1. The Who
2. Canned Heat
3. Country Joe & The Fish
4. Jefferson Airplane
5. Santana
6. Ten Years After
7. Crosby, Stills & Nash (INCORRECT)
8. Big Brother & The Holding Company (INCORRECT)
9. The Mamas & The Papas (INCORRECT)
10. Gypsy Sun & Rainbows (CORRECT BUT NOT COUNTED)

rita#738bI did some healthy kicking of myself when the answers were read out. CSN was deemed incorrect because the band had been infiltrated by that Canadian interloper Neil Young by August ’69, Janis Joplin’s backing band at that time was the Kozmic Blues Band (having left Big Brother & The Holding Company the prior year), and the Mamas & the Papas was just plain wrong (I didn’t think they played, but thought that they might have been one of the bands not featured on the film soundtrack due to rights reasons, and more importantly my mother-in-law was adamant).

It’s interesting to look at the full line-up outside of the film and the accompanying soundtrack. It feels almost like bands as big as the Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival have been written out of history because of their absence from the film.

rita#738cI wondered if their sets were even filmed, before old friend (and Woodstock expert) Moo sent me the link to the Creedence set on YouTube. It’s a ripper of a set, opening with a blustering version of Born On The Bayou. After the first song ends, John Fogerty looks at the cameraman and asks “Is that thing on now?” before the video cuts off. Much of the rest of the set is audio-only, with the video creeping back intermittently.

Is there a songwriter more overlooked than John Fogerty? His name should share the same breath as Brian Wilson, Lennon and McCartney and Ray Davies, but apart from the Dude, nobody else seems to care.

Hit: Proud Mary

Hidden Gem: Born On The Bayou

Rocks In The Attic #695: Joe Cocker – ‘Cocker Happy’ (1971)

RITA#695Amongst its many highlights, Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock film contains a groundbreaking performance by Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Cocker almost looks possessed as he tears through his version of the Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends. For a pained eight minutes, he looks like he’s about to die singing the song.

The studio recording of Cocker’s most famous Beatles cover, with more than a little help from session guitarist Jimmy Page, appears on this compilation, Cocker Happy. Released only in Spain, Australia and New Zealand, it features a number of singles and album tracks recorded between 1968 and 1970.

Watching that Woodstock performance, you’d be forgiven for thinking it would provide the springboard for a stellar career. But his subsequent solo career failed to match the intensity of these early hits. Twenty-two studio albums later, and he’s really most famous for the duet with Jennifer Warnes which soundtracked a dress-whites besuited Richard Gere in An Officer And A Gentleman.

He’s not the only English soul singer with such a lob-sided career. Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood and, to an extent, Van Morrison also failed to follow through on their early promises and went in unexpected directions. In a parallel universe, maybe Cocker could have been the singer in Led Zeppelin, and maybe Rod Stewart could have held on to Ron Wood and kept the Faces together.

Hit: With A Little Help From My Friends

Hidden Gem: Delta Lady

RITA#695a