VARIOUS ARTISTS -- Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (Columbia Legacy)title

Message to Love is a compilation of performances from the third (and final) Isle of Wight festival. The shows took place over three days on a tiny island off the coast of England. Eventually, the festival became known as 'the British Woodstock.' When you look at the artists who participated in this concert, the lineup reads like a veritable who's who of musicians at the time. The festival included sets from The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Joni Mitchell, Free, Miles Davis, The Moody Blues, and many more--an eclectic lineup, to say the least. Sadly, at least eight of the musicians who performed at this historic event are no longer with us.

On a positive note, the performances and sound quality on the CDs are spectacular. The first disc starts with Free's textbook version of "All Right Now," then moves into Jethro Tull's rocking "My Sunday Feeling." Kris Kristofferson's rendition of his classic "Me and Bobby McGee" lacks the power and vitality of Janis' version, but hey--he wrote it. Emerson Lake & Palmer are up next and they turn in a blistering medley of three songs, loosely based around Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. In what seems like an unusual segue, The Doors' mesmerizing version of "When the Music's Over" rounds out the first disc.

The second disc gets off to a great start as The Who rip through "Young Man Blues" and "Naked Eye." Their complete performance is also available now (check out the review in last month's issue of Cosmik) and is essential for all Who fans. Aside from the performances by Taste and Miles Davis, the rest of the second disc is a mixed bag. Between Tiny Tim's warbling on "There'll Always be an England," and Joan Baez's horrendous cover of "Let it Be," you'll be thankful for programmable CD players. There is a home video release planned for the spring.

© 1996 Steve Marshall