Woodstock — a restoration or a cheat?
In June, the original Woodstock is to be the subject of a multi-disc DVD and Blu-Ray restoration. It’s being advertised as including never-before-seen performances.
But according to this video posted at Amazon.com, in order to rescue at least one of those performances, producer Eddie Kramer has had original performers (or in one case, the SON of a performer) redo their parts. This is being undertaken in order to correct flaws in the original recording. No indication so far how extensive this pastiche patch job has been for this Woodstock redux.
No one should question Eddie Kramer’s integrity. But it’s fair to wonder about protecting the integrity of the original document. Is it fair to match up an artist’s 40-year-old image with audio recorded four decades later? Even weirder when you are talking about the progeny of one of those performers, who presumably was not even conceived until some time later. The restorers would argue that without this tweaking, the footage couldn’t be brought up to 5.1/HD standard, and therefore would likely remain unseen. And furthermore, there can be little doubt that even the original Woodstock movie sounded better than what most of the spectators heard at Max Yasgur’s farm that day.
I give the restoration team credit for transparency and letting people know what they’re attempting.
But are we stepping onto a slippery slope?
What if we discovered that The Who’s entire galvanic Woodstock performance was available on film. Just one hitch — Keith Moon’s drums weren’t properly mic’d and it sounds like crap. But wait! Zak Starkey (who has been performing with the surviving members of The Who) could return to the studio and perform Moon’s parts. Would that be cool?
What if John Fogerty decided he wasn’t happy with his Woodstock performance with Creedence Clearwater Revival? Could he insist on having the opportunity to redo his vocal parts? What argument would the restorers now have to counter such a contentious request? If you can redo a timbale part in Santana’s performance of “Evil Ways,” what’s to stop Levon Helm from redoing his vocals in The Band’s performance?
Is that restoration? Or is that fraud?