Released in 1994 (the same year as the definitive four-disc Woodstock box set, Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music [25th Anniversary]), this album, may, at first glance, seem like an afterthought. Actually, it's a pretty neat compilation. Shorn of the long, indulgent jams, crowd chants, and warnings against bad acid that were an integral part of the earlier, better-known records, Woodstock Diary is a polished little gem -- an alternate take on the mother of all rock festivals. Woodstock minus the melodrama, if you will. It isn't a faultless set list by any means: Jimi Hendrix
's performance -- revelatory and inspired as it was -- has been covered enough elsewhere, so you can't help wishing that they'd given his 12 minutes to, say, the Grateful Dead or Blood Sweat and Tears, both of whom haven't been featured on any of the Woodstock compilations to date. That said, there are lovely moments aplenty: Crosby, Stills and Nash doing the Beatles
' "Blackbird"; Johnny Winter
dropping hot riffs all over "Mean Town Blues" (the only song he performed at Woodstock); and Joe Cocker
's cover of "I Shall be Released," on which he manages to be affecting without burning the tune down to the ground like he did far more famously on "With a Little Help From My Friends." Along with the Band's "The Weight," Richie Havens
' tender version of Gordon Lightfoot
's "I Can't Make It Anymore," and Tim Hardin
's "If I Were a Carpenter," they make this album predominantly a celebration of the quieter moments at Woodstock. Nine of the 14 tracks here are featured on the 1994 box set, so, for those who own that album, this may not be vital, but as a companion piece to the Woodstock and Woodstock 2 albums, it is excellent value.