Woodstock 1994 is now in distant memory. The hundreds of thousands of concert-goers who made the trek to Saugerties, New York, for the three-day festival of culture and music now have a permanently fixed reminder of their generation's gathering.
Henry Rollins, frontman for the Rollins Band, said of the megaconcert: "When the wind blew towards the stage all you could smell was the sweat of over three hundred thousand people. It was so much flesh, humans as far as you could see. Time seemed to hang suspended while we played. While I was walking off I tried to look out there so hard I would never forget it. We had a blast."
Marketers tried their best to compile three days of rain, mud, sleepless youth and 72-hour continuous music into "Woodstock '94," a two-disk, A&M Records set. With profit aspirations on the front burner, the "Woodstock '94" disks are a worthy effort, but lack the energy surge that gave power to
the recycled Woodstock nation last summer.
A fine distinction is drawn between the love beads-and-bongs music of 1969, such as Crosby, Stills and Nash's, "Deja Vu," versus the more post-modern and in-your-face '90s artists, such as Nine Inch Nails and Violent Femmes. Live's "Selling the Drama" is a much more convincing live effort than the Traffic's dated "Pearly Queen." The post-Baby Boomers have been brought up to need the flagrancy and high intensity offered by those artists encompassed by the "music revolution."
Overlooking mediocre efforts by Jackyl, Candlebox, the Cranberries and Salt-N-Pepa ("So what you wanna do? I wanna 'shoop' baby . "), there are solid live efforts. "But Anyway," a John Popper-led jamboree with his band Blues Traveler, recreates the daisy fields icon left 25 years ago by the preceding generation. Green Day's youthful spunk in "When I Come Around" and the Nails' thrusting "Happiness in Slavery" offer post-punk angst unseen by the hippies in '69.
One of the secret surprise tracks of the disks is "Run, Baby, Run" by Sheryl Crow, who matches the songwriting and musical talent of the illustrious Bonnie Raitt. Deeper into disk 2, B-Real of Cypress Hill elaborates in Cubano tongue before "How I Could Just Kill A Man" by telling the swarms of concert-goers that "we have half a million motherfuckers in the house tonight, something that ain't been done in 25 years. They say we're Generation X, but I say we're Generation Fuck You."
The cornerstone of the revival was his majesty, Bob Dylan, a performer unseen at the original concert at Max Yasgur's converted farm. The track "Highway 61" is proof that a legend never dies. Dylan is shrink to fit and built to last. He just grows on you with his trademark vocals, harmonica solos and thirty years' worth of guitar mastery. Peter Gabriel's global consciousness and musical holiness in "Biko" ends the double disk set with grace and elegance.
So, is it worth shelling out $32 for the set? Probably not. Mom and Pop could include this in your stocking, but to sport the cash up front at a record store would be a goofy mistake. The music's better than mediocre overall, but for that kind of price tag, watch MTV and, soon you too will be thoroughly sick of the next generation of Woodstock.
Ä Jason Fierstein
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