VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Woodstock Diary" (Atlantic). * * 1/2

JIMI HENDRIX; "Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock" (MCA Records). * * *VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Woodstock '94" (A&M Records). * * *

The original festivities were held Aug. 14, 1969, on Max Yasgur's farm. Many believe that first Woodstock reflected the true spirit of peace, love and rock 'n' roll.

The recent corporate-sponsored mudfest, Woodstock '94, didn't come close to the original concept - though the bands that played were also the cream of their time.

- LET'S GO BACK to '69, when the civil unrest in the country was put on hold for a three-day event that featured rock icons and legends of the age, many of whom are, incidentally, renowned today around the world.

Originally conceived as the event's "lost" tapes, "Woodstock Diary" is not "lost." Instead, the album is a compilation of tapes and recordings the bands either withheld or refused to turn over until now.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane's renditions of two hit singles, "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." While the songs reflected the psychedelic feel of the period, Grace Slick and the boys had a hard time performing them live. Slick's voice is strained, and the energy is not there. It so happened the Airplane apparently waited over 20 hours before they were allowed to perform. Consequently, the band sounds like trash - or should it be the band sounds trashed?

But actually that's the beauty of this collection. Although the songs are only selections from the bands' full gigs, the album captures the essence of the festival, complete with the fatigue, feedback, technical weaknesses and cracking voices.

Joe Cocker starts the album, which also features other greats, such as Janis Joplin singing "Try (Just a Little Bit)" and "Ball & Chain"; Tim Hardin singing "If I Were a Carpenter"; and Mountain performing "Southbound Train."

What Woodstock-related album would be complete with out the screaming blues of Jimi Hendrix? "Voodoo Chile (A Slight Return)," lifted from the original Woodstock tapes, found its way to the Jimi Hendrix Woodstock album before resting here.

One of the most pleasant songs on this compilation is Crosby, Stills & Nash's remake of the Beatles' "Blackbird." The harmonious voices of the trio are tranquil and soothing.

Many will find nostalgic comfort in "Woodstock Diary," and those of the younger generation who recently jumped on the Woodstock trend will find this a quaint addition to both of the original Woodstock soundtracks.

But be forewarned: The famous acts are not playing up to their potential; the rough sound might prove unnerving.

- A FEW YEARS AGO, MCA Records came across Hendrix's full performance at the original mudland of 1969. "Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock" focuses on influential guitarist's best Woodstock performances.

Live renditions of "Fire," "Izabella" and "Voodoo Chile (A Slight Return)" highlight Hendrix's musical intuition and creative spirit. "Stepping Stone," "Woodstock Improvisation" and "Jam Back at the House (Beginning)" give listeners a taste of how influential the blues were to his music.

"The Star-Spangled Banner," the all-too-popular piece that closed the Woodstock movie, is also present but followed by "Purple Haze" and three more pieces that actually closed the concert.

The album, feared by some to be just another fanatic's dream, is actually a fresh angle on the music-legend's myth. The performance here brings him down to earth. Hendrix lived for his music but died because of its lifestyle.

- THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY Woodstock show didn't take place on the Yasgur farm. Nor was it based on love, peace and harmony. Call it corporate greed.

All that aside, the performing groups offered a definite style mix within today's pop music genre.

Alternative bands such as Live, Violent Femmes, Nine Inch Nails, Blind Melon and the Cranberries appeared with mainstream acts Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Allman Brothers, Santana, Traffic, Aerosmith and Peter Gabriel.

Condensing the three-day festival into a 21/2-hour album release must have taken long hours of listening to the bands, choosing which bands to feature and, if anything, biting nails.

The 30-track "Woodstock '94" starts off with Live's "Selling the Drama." The title describes the event perfectly - too much commercialism and not enough meaning.

Other songs by alternative rockers include the Cranberries' "Dreams," Blind Melon's "Soup" and Collective Soul's "Shine."

It was during this concert that Nine Inch Nails solidified its name in the music world with its set. The band's violent "Happiness in Slavery" is complete, except for the mud.

Among the hard rock/heavy metal performances, Metallica reigns supreme with "For Whom the Bell Tolls," while Jackyl shines with "Headed for Destruction." Aerosmith pops out the heavy blues with a medley of "Draw the Line" and "F.I.N.E."

The older artists are represented by CSN's "Deja Vu," Cocker's version of "Feelin' Alright," Bob Dylan playing "Highway 66" and Traffic pumping out "Pearly Queen."

Ex-Journey guitarist Neil Schon mixes his talents with former Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers, Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash, drummer Jason Bonham and bassist Andy Fraser on "The Hunter."

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Other artists include Salt-n-Pepa, Rollins Band, Cyprus Hill, the Neville Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Melissa Etheridge, Candlebox and Peter Gabriel.

Distressingly, many of the original Woodstockers failed to make the album.

Missing in action are Santana and the Band. Obviously the new album is targeted at the younger generation, but these bands should have been featured out of respect - or even for aesthetic purposes.

RATINGS: four stars (* * * * ), excellent; three stars (* * * ), good; two stars (* * ), fair; one star (* ), poor, with 1/2 representing a higher, intermediate grade.

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