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Taking Woodstock

[cover art]

2009 soundtrack with The Band's live version of "I Shall Be Released" from Rock of Ages, with dubbed applause.

Taking Woodstock, the 2009 comedy by director Ang Lee, was inspired by the diaries of Elliot Tiber, whose family was, by happenstance, a big part of making the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival the cultural event it was. The original score was written by Danny Elfman and is a separate release from this accompanying soundtrack -- there are a number of packages on the market, and some combine both releases. Many of the acts that performed at the festival are present here, along with some that were not and some of Elfman's own cues. The disc opens with a new recording of Richie Havens' "Freedom," which closed his set at Woodstock. It's different, but just as powerful, and certainly one of the better things here. A Hendrixian cut by Elfman follows this and then enters the studio version of Crosby, Stills & Nash's cover of "Wooden Ships." The Grateful Dead perform a live "China Cat Sunflower" (that sounds too pristine to have been recorded at the festival itself), and The Band plays a live "I Shall Be Released." (Though they played the festival, they were left off the six-disc box set released by Rhino in 2009, presumably for licensing reasons). Inexplicably, the Doors are here, as is Love with studio tracks we are all familiar with -- "Maggie McGill" and "Red Telephone," respectively. Country Joe McDonald's "I-Feel-Like I'm Fixin'-to-Die Rag" is here, as are cuts by Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, the Jefferson Airplane, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (the latter two are studio cuts). In sum, this is an enjoyable collection of songs that reflects the era more than the festival itself, but then it's a soundtrack. It also feels like a solid memento from the film.

--Thom Jurek, All-Music Guide


  1. Freedom (2009) -- Richie Havens
  2. Taking Woodstock Titles
  3. Wooden Ships -- Crosby, Stills & Nash
  4. China Cat Sunflower [live] -- Grateful Dead
  5. Maggie McGill -- The Doors
  6. Elliot's Place
  7. Coming into Los Angeles [live] -- Arlo Guthrie
  8. I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag [live] -- Country Joe McDonald
  9. Going Up the Country [live] -- Canned Heat
  10. Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) [live] -- Janis Joplin
  11. A Happening (Office #2)
  12. The Red Telephone -- Love
  13. Beautiful People [live] -- Melanie
  14. I Shall Be Released [live] -- The Band
  15. Perspective Extended
  16. One More Mile -- Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  17. Volunteers -- Jefferson Airplane

Soundtrack Album - Taking Woodstock - 2009 - Rhino 520987

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