Various Artists October 10 2007


Called the "Black Woodstock" by some, Wattstax was the first big urban concert gathering. It was attended by a record 112,000 people at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the sweltering summer of '72, in a section of town seriously damaged during the incendiary Watts riots. This deluxe package bests the original two-LP soundtrack to the respected documentary, ballooning the party into a three-CD celebration of music and comedy with a still-palpable sense of newfound freedom. Performances from Isaac Hayes ("Theme from Shaft"), the Staple Singers ("I'll Take You There"), Richard Pryor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, and Atlantan William Bell take on exciting new connotations in light of the times they were first presented. And now, 35 years later, the music and messages of the 40-plus tracks remain as powerful as on that hot summer weekend. 5 stars