Woodstock: Loose End Tied

Just a quick wrap-up (for now) on my Woodstock obsession. When we last rapped, man, our hero had compiled a nearly complete set of recordings from the Woodstock Festival, thanks to WPXN's radio broadcast over the 50th anniversary weekend, XPNstock.

As you'll recall, two songs were missing from the Jimi Hendrix set. They weren't broadcast by WXPN because they're not on the 38-CD box, and they're not on the box because the Hendrix Estate won't authorize their release. Enter the good folks at "non-label" (i.e., bootleggers) who've put out a double CD of Hendrix's entire Woodstock set. I took the plunge and now have the missing songs: "Mastermind" and "Gypsy Woman/Aware of Love," both sung by rhythm guitarist Larry Lee. Though the official release's booklet dismisses them as "slow, haggard filler" they sound fine to these ears, and it's a treat to hear Hendrix as an accompanist.

The bootleg brought another pleasant surprise: in addition to the Larry Lee songs, it contains 20 minutes of material absent from Live at Woodstock and the 38-CD box. Much of this consists of Lee solos that were inexplicably cut from the official version. Of course, it is a bootleg, so the sound is somewhat muddy and boxy. But if you tune your ears to it, so to speak, it's perfectly acceptable, and I'm grateful to now have every single note played by Hendrix and his band at Woodstock.

So, what am I still missing? What everyone else is, apparently: the one-and-a-half Sha Na Na songs that weren't recorded back in 1969. I wonder if audience tapes exist, or perhaps the fabled mono soundboard reel that was used as backup when things went awry. In any event, I'm sure that geeks greater than me are on the case, and if there's anything floating around out there it'll turn up someday. When it does, I'll be first in line.

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