The Dutch Kralingen Music Festival was a festival held in the Kralingse Bos (= forest) in the neighbourhood of the city of Rotterdam. It actually took place from 26th until 28th June 1970. Approximately 150.000 people attended this three-day festival. At the time posters showed that the event was billed as 'Pop Paradijs' (Pop Paradise) and 'Holland Pop Festival '70'. The festival was also known as Stamping Ground and has often been called the European answer to the Woodstock Festival of 1969. It took place about ten months after Woodstock and two months before the third Isle Of Wight Festival; the first two were held in 1968 and 1969.
The festival became an influential event, as it turned out to be the beginning of the Dutch tolerance policy towards marijuana and cannabis. The many present undercover agents didn't arrest any of the soft drug users or small traders. They were just too many and all of them behaved peacefully. In 1971 a documentary about the festival appeared called Stamping Ground as well. This film was made for an international audience and therefore it's also known as Love And Music and in Germany as Rock Fieber. Several books and exhibitions have been dedicated to the event. On the 21st of September 2013, a memorial had been placed in the area of the Kralingse Bos to commemorate the first multi-day open air pop festival on the Continent.
People who couldn't attend this legendary Dutch festival − most of them weren't even born at the time − can now watch and listen how things used to be almost 44 years ago. The above-mentioned movie and songs from that movie have now been released on a DVD and a double CD called The Dutch Woodstock. All line-ups of the performing bands, liner notes, festival pictures and posters have been included in the booklet. The whole package looks rather professional, but the question comes to mind whether this is also the case with the audio and the images of the festival. Well, if you realize that the sound and the images are more than 43 years old, there's no reason to complain at all!
The DVD with a playing time of almost hundred minutes is rather entertaining and gives a good overview of all the things that happened during the festival in the summer of 1970. You can watch nice images of the people at the festival who are swimming, relaxing around the lake, smoking soft drugs and listening to live music. Of course, the most important images are those from the many live acts that you can witness. Unfortunately not all performed songs can be watched completely, but it's still very enjoyable to see acts like Al Stewart, The Byrds, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Santana and T. Rex perform.
For devotees of progressive rock the recordings of Soft Machine (Canterbury jazz-rock), It's A Beautiful Day , The Flock (both bands with an electric violin) and headliner Pink Floyd are probably the most interesting bands. At the time Pink Floyd was already known for their groundbreaking psychedelic rock sound. Sadly you can only see a very small part of A Saucerful Of Secrets. Apart from the footage of the bands on stage, fragments of the musicians back stage have been included as well. A good example is a rather funny interview with singer Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane who talks about the war in Vietnam. For people who have never visited the Netherlands the short images of our country in between the songs are interesting. The images shot from an airplane provide a good view on the typical Dutch bulb fields and other well-known and famous Dutch areas.
For those who think that the songs on the DVD are way too short, it's appropriate that a double CD has also been included. On both discs the performed songs not only sound better, but are mostly longer and more songs of certain bands can be enjoyed. For example Pink Floyd cannot only be heard with A Saucerful Of Secrets, but also with Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. Unfortunately you get only four minutes of this amazing track. The CDs also provide songs from bands that do not appear in the movie, like the two Dutch blues rock acts Cuby + Blizzards and Livin' Blues.
However, it's a pity that prog related bands like Supersister, Renaissance, Caravan, Pentangle and Fairport Convention, who were all present at the festival, can neither be find on DVD nor on CD. I guess we will probably never know whether their performances were recorded or not. Nevertheless, this legendary Dutch Woodstock festival has been excellently summed up with a DVD which is pleasant to watch and with two rather good sounding CDs. For music lovers in general this is a unique opportunity to listen to and watch a number of legendary British, American and Dutch bands that belonged to the top of that musical era. The festival took place in a suitable environment and was visited by people who naively believed that sitting in the meadow, blowing thick spliffs and listening to music could change the world. Therefore this release is not only a musical event, but it's also of social and cultural value!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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