Henry Diltz/Rhino Entertainment
Tom Sinclair
August 05, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm

Current Status
In Season
Various Artists

We gave it a B

The 40th anniversary of Woodstock has, not surprisingly, given birth to a flurry of related products, ranging from CDs by associated artists to an extras-enhanced DVD of Woodstock, the movie. For our money, the best bet is this six-CD box, containing approximately one-fifth of all the festival’s music, much of it available for the first time in any format. Arranged chronologically, and featuring songs from almost every act that played (missing ? in action: The Band and Ten Years After), 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur’s Farm is a dandy primer and/or refresher course in why that mythic, muddy lovefest mattered, man.

A key selling point here is the trove of unreleased material, some of it — three tunes from folkie Bert Sommer, the Grateful Dead’s beatific ”Dark Star” — truly breathtaking. Given the mediocrity of many (though hardly all) of the performances from prior Woodstock releases, such gems easily make this the, uh, grooviest-ever distillation of that seminal event. Even so, we can already hear some grizzled completists complaining that Rhino didn’t make good on its original plan to collect every scrap of the music on 30 CDs. Get real, tie-dyed daddies: They’ve gotta save something for the 50th-anniversary blowout, don’t they? B

Download This: Listen to the song Woodstock Booogie by Canned Heat at last.fm

See all of this week’s reviews

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