Woodstock Complete is an ambitious project to combine all known sources and re-create the Woodstock Festival of 1969 as it took place. There are a lot of pieces of music scattered over official and unofficial media (LP, CD, tape, VHS, DVD, etc.). So the idea was to put it all together, find the longest and best quality versions, rearrange the material and distribute it under fans.
Since Warner Brothers (who own the rights of all Woodstock audio and video material) are not willing to release the missing music, Woodstock Complete is the essential and most comprehensive source for every Woodstock fan.
This chapter covers some information of the history of the Woodstock Complete project.
V.1: Woodstock Complete
Work was begun on in the year 2000 when the idea first arose to put together all material and listen to the whole historic festival at once. Actually two people (who are still major contributors to the project) worked on it independently who later met via Internet and put their knowlegde and music together: Woodstock Complete was born.
This first version, released to the public in 2003, covered 17 CDs and had 219 tracks. It combined bootleg sources and official material in one package in order to offer a complete feeling of the festival. It already contained complete sets in excellent quality (e.g. Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix) and tried to arrange the sets in the assumed correct running order.
One of the major points of Woodstock Complete is that a lot of stage comments are included, too. This gives a drastically better impression of the festival in contrast to official releases like Woodstock - Three Days of Peace and Music. The comments were mostly taken from bootlegs or video material and were combined with the songs. For instance almost every band gets a nice introduction by stage manager Chip Monk.
V.2: From Havens to Hendrix
The first version of Woodstock Complete was heavily discussed under fans. More and qualitative better material was discovered and missing songs were officially released (e.g. the almost complete set from Santana on the Legacy Editon of their debut album). It was time for the second, revised version: From Havens to Hendrix.
Improvements over the first version:
- General rearrangements of some band's sets based on given audience recordings, logic and to some part even guessing
- The running order of day two was corrected
- The Sweetwater set was expanded with new songs
- Added "America" to the Bert Sommer set
- Complete Santana set from Santana (Legacy Edition) added
- Canned Heat expanded with new audience recordings
Version 2 was released in spring 2006, totalling 20 CDs with 234 tracks.
V.3: The Third Trip
It didn't take long and a third version appeared, this time entitled The Third Trip (and subtitled Three Days of Music, Masses, Mud and Mushroom). Actually there were two "Woodstock Complete V.2" versions, the before mentioned From Haven to Hendrix and another personal edition which also made the rounds in trader circles and had its advantages. So it was just logical to combine these two and make a proper third version.
- Again changes in the day two running order (see Time Schedule)
- Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter" replaced with longer version
- Joan Baez' "Warm and Tender Love" added
- Quill set expanded with two additional tracks ("BBY" and "Waiting for You")
- Replaced the complete The Grateful Dead set with an excellent new source of a soundboard tape
- Replaced the complete The Band set with an excellent new source of a soundboard tape and added an additional song
- Added "Long Time Gone" to the Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) set
- Added a stage comment from Chip Monk to the Jimi Hendrix set
- Further the compilation includes now the "WoodODDS & WoodSODS" bonus CD which contains a few recordings from the free stage and other places (e.g. the well known Jerry Garcia and Rosalie Sorrels jam behind the stage), unused audience tape segments and additional leftovers
Version 3 was released in February 2008, totalling 19 CDs (plus one bonus CD) with 236 tracks (plus 36 bonus tracks). Though five songs were added, V.3 has only two more tracks. This results because of different track splicing. No songs of V.2 were left out on V.3!
V.4: Woodstock Complete - 2012 Edition
Followed by the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival in 2009 and its following releases of yet unheard music, the idea of a new Woodstock Complete version came up. The newly released tracks are now a fix part of the package, as well as recently discovered audience recordings. A new arrangement of non-music audio snippets - introductions, speeches, crowd chants or simply weather noises - give the new version the feeling of a real documentary.
The fourth version was released to the public in August 2012. The preparation work did roughly take one year. The goal was to incorporate as much material as possible and making it also enjoyable to listen to. Many level correction and edits were necessary to reach a smooth listening experience.
The new version reached a tremendous size of 26 discs totaling 312 tracks. This means more than 25 hours of original Woodstock material! The "WoodODDS & WoodSODS" bonus CD was dropped.
- Four recently surfaced audience tapes were mixed into the compilation
- The A27 tape, contains some Ten Years After fragments and ambiance pieces
- The Ira Stone stage tape completes Bert Sommer’s set
- The Dave Miller Tape; it contains ultra-rare Keef Hartley material as well as some other things
- The Ken Bielen tape, the best sounding one of the four, contains some missing spots here and there
- All bands' sets where updated with the new official releases which were released in the mean time
- The bands' running order (order of performances) was finally confirmed as accurate and will never change again
V.5: Woodstock Complete - 2014 Edition
As the 45th Anniversary approached, the Woodstock Project switched from using the increasingly obsolete Yahoo Groups format and email discussions to its own online forum which made communication between members much more efficient. There was little new music to appear for the anniversary but a few new or upgraded songs were introduced as a bonus disc of performances when the Woodstock film was released on Blu-Ray. Furthering the "documentary" feel the project had become, the discarded "WoodODDS & WoodSODS" disc material was re-examined and the unique material was combined with various on-site ambiance, interviews, commentary, home-movie audio and news reports. These were integrated into the project as a whole with the option available of seperating these non-musical tracks as a subset or having both on-stage and off-stage selections combined chronolgically as one big experience. Further editing was made on cross-fading, balancing and fixing previous mistakes. A new bonus disc was also offered to forum members, largely featuring audio from the Dick Cavett "Woodstock" show which was filmed and aired on Monday, August 18, mere hours after the festival had ended. New CD covers were also provided, this time with extensive liner-notes and photos.
With both the main musical project and the off-stage subset combined, the Project was now a whopping 29 CDs totalling nearly 30 hours of audio.
Additions and improvements:
- Audio from the Sony portapak video cameras used by the Jefferson Airplane crew and the FreevideoX documentary team provided much interview and ambiance material.
- A box set of interviews by radio DJ and reporter Howard Smith ("The Smith Tapes") was released in late 2013. One disc featured several exclusive on-site reports made throughout the entire festival phoned in to WABC-FM radio. Another disc featured audio from a cassette recording Smith had made as he wandered about the festival site. Along with audience commentaries and ambience he captured exclusive musical material including Melanie's otherwise unavailable "Animal Crackers" and the backstage jam by the Incredible String Band Friday night during the rain.
- A BBC interview with Elliot Tiber featured an otherwise unknown snippet of Haven's "I'm a Stranger Here".
- The 45th Anniversary limited edition release of the Woodstock film on blu-ray featured a bonus disc of performances which provided Melanie's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Tuning My Guitar", Joan Baez's "Oh Happy Day" and a complete, clean "I Shall Be Released", upgrades of The Who's "Pinball Wizard" and "Sparks", CSN's "Helplessly Hoping" and Sha Na Na's "Book of Love".
- Several on-site news reports, including WNEW's Mike Eisgrau and WVOS's Harry Borwick, were included.
- An alternate soundboard source provided additional material during the mid-set chaos during the Grateful Dead's performance.
- Previous bonus disc material such as the Redmond-Campbell "Free Stage" recording were reintegrated into the main audio project.
- Woodstock Project: The Woodstock Project message boards.
- Yahoo! Woodstock Project mailing list - information about Woodstock Complete v.2.0
- Yahoo! Woodstock Project mailing list - information about Woodstock Complete v.3.0
- http://woodstockproject.proboards.com/thread/94/news-flash-woodstock-complete-ready - information about Woodstock Complete v.5.0