Picks and Pans Review: Woodstock '94
Live albums should be the next best thing to being there. But trying to recapture the feeling of being at Winston Farm in Saugerties, N.Y., last Aug. 12-14, smack dab in the midst of several hundred thousand mud-caked and rain-soaked teens, twentysomethings and scattered Woodstock '69 alumni, is a hefty task. Woodstock '94 comes closest with the miscellaneous stage announcements that are interspersed throughout the two-CD set, including one that instructs the crowd on how to avoid being struck by lightning.
The selected tunes offer satisfying sonic pleasures and a generous sample of the weekend's performers—despite such notable omissions as James and Arrested Development and the no-show of nonrap R&B—but many of them (Nine Inch Nails' "Happiness in Slavery" and Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," for instance) beg for visuals. With so much to see onstage and off at Woodstock '94 (the Chili Peppers costumed as lightbulb heads, Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon in bad drag, the occasional nudist), the music sometimes seemed an afterthought, as a quick flip through the festival photos included with the CD clearly indicates. You had to be there. (A&M)