Ozit have previously recounted the story of the 1972 Bickershaw festival in depth, so much of this hefty box set covers familiar territory. What’s been assembled is, however, a thorough account of a key early 70s festival, straddling as it did – as much through the inexperience of organiser Jeremy Beadle as anything else – the big “pay” events and anarchic free festivals.
The DVDs are archival quality – and have appeared separately before – but their grainy images encapsulate the countercultural chaos and the grim conditions that typified Bickershaw. Beadle once talked of the festival as being both “awful… and fantastic”; that’s certainly captured here – and in the pages of the accompanying book, built around Chris Hewitt’s recollections of the event along with a plethora of photographs and press-cuttings. It’s a totally exhaustive (if exhausting) summation.
Two of the accompanying CDs round-up a cross-section of performers in variable sound quality; the others present The Grateful Dead’s legendary performance – and this is where the collection really comes alive. “For all our muddy friends…” the stage announcer introduces. Their set is a thrilling snapshot of the day that West Coast counterculture came to Northern England.