Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies


The 1969 Woodstock Festival seemingly caught everyone by surprise. No one - not the organizers, the artists, the audience, nor the outside world - expected it to be as huge as it was, both in terms of its sheer size and its cultural impact. Woodstock ensured that other rock festivals would follow. The summer of 1970 saw the Atlanta International Pop Festival (which was actually held in Byron, Georgia, nearly 100 miles south of Atlanta) and the Isle of Wight Festival off the southern coast of England. Estimates of audience size at Byron vary, but it appears that it was probably about the size of Woodstock (400,000 attendees). But everyone agrees that the Isle of Wight Festival was the largest such event up to that time, with 600,000 to 700,000 people attending.

Both festivals were recorded, and 1971 Columbia Records issued a three-record set with one disc from Atlanta Pop and two from Isle of Wight. Some of the recordings included were edited - The Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post" from Byron was cut from 15 minutes to five, and Miles Davis 35-minute set was issued as a 17-and-a half-minute piece titled "Call It Anythin'," which was apparently Miles' response to producer Teo Macero when asked what the title should be. Many of the sets excerpted here have been issued in full in recent years, notably those by the Allman Brothers, Davis, and Jimi Hendrix.

I bought this album many years ago for the Miles Davis set, but even in my "jazz snob" days I enjoyed many of the other performances, and these days I like most of them. For the record, here's the lineup of the album:

Side A (Atlanta Pop):
  1. Johnny Winter: Mean Mistreater (5:48)
  2. Poco: Kind Woman (5:14)
  3. Poco: Grand Junction (3:26)
  4. The Chambers Brothers: Love, Peace And Happiness (4:18)
  5. The Allman Brothers Band: Statesborough Blues (sic) (4:20)
Side B (Atlanta Pop):
  1. The Allman Brothers Band: Whippen Post (sic) (5:02)
  2. Mountain: Stormy Monday (19:32)
Side C (Isle of Wight):
  1. Sly & The Family Stone: Stand! / You Can Make It If You Try (10:14)
  2. Cactus: No Need To Worry / Parchman Farm (9:39)
  3. David Bromberg: Mr. Bojangles (5:48)

Side D (Isle of Wight):
  1. Ten Years After: I Can't Keep From Cryin' Sometimes  (19:13)
  2. Procol Harum: Salty Dog (5:11)

Side E (Isle of Wight):
  1. Leonard Cohen: Tonight Will Be Fine (6:50)
  2. Jimi Hendrix: Power To Love / Midnight Lightning / Foxy Lady (15:11)

Side F (Isle of Wight):
  1. Kris Kristofferson: Blame It On The Stones / The Pilgrim - Chapter 33 (6:46)
  2. Miles Davis: Call It Anythin'  (17:30)

Here's a bit of "Statesboro Blues" from Byron, including some parts that were edited out of the Columbia album:

                                   

And here's "Spanish Key" by Miles Davis from the Isle of Wight. This was an amazing band, Gary Bartz on alto sax, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett on keyboards, Dave Holland on bass, Jack DeJohnnette on drums, and Airto on percussion.

                                   

 And finally, here's the reddish-tinged inside photo from the album, taken during Miles' set at the Isle of Wight Fest.


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