Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Woodstock [Cotillion, 1970]
"I left one thing out of my Woodstock article," says Tom Smucker, author of a good one. "I left out how boring it was." And though you can be sure it's not like being there, this three-record set does capture that. As is inevitable in a live album featuring stage announcements, crowd noises, and sixteen different artists, not one side is enjoyable straight through: CSNY are stiff and atrociously flat in their second gig, Paul Butterfield sounds wasted, Sha Na Na should never record, Joan Baez should never record, and so forth. But a substantial proportion of this music sounds pretty good, and three performances belong to history: Ten Years After's "I'm Going Home" (speed kills), Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help From My Friends" (mad Englishman), and Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" (wotta ham). Also, the stage announcements and crowd noises are better than most. B