Posts Tagged ‘Jimi Hendrix’

Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings have announced a brand-new collection that celebrates The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s near-mythic performances on Maui, Hawaii in 1970. Live In Maui brings together audio and video with a new feature-length documentary called Music, Money, Madness: Jimi Hendrix In Maui. The collection will be available in 2-CD/Blu-ray and 3-LP/Blu-ray configurations, all due on November 20th.

Hendrix’s performances on Maui in 1970 caught him at another pivotal point in his too-short career. Following the success of Electric Ladyland, he alternated between playing arenas and festivals with his revamped Experience alongside bandmates Billy Cox (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums), and overseeing the creation of his state-of-the-art Greenwich Village studio, Electric Lady Studios. In need of additional financing to complete building the studio, manager Michael Jeffery convinced Warner Bros. to advance Hendrix $500,000.00. The studio would also finance a film to be shot in Maui: Rainbow Bridge. Warner would then receive the soundtrack rights to the exclusive Hendrix music in the movie.

The impressionistic film, directed by Chuck Wein, would explore themes of enlightenment, with the titular rainbow bridge connecting the enlightened and unenlightened worlds. It wasn’t much of a concert movie, though, as only 17 minutes of footage were included from the free show Hendrix held on a Maui cattle ranch on July 30th, 1970 (one day before a Honolulu arena performance). Even those weren’t “pure” as Mitch Mitchell had to re-record his parts at the recently-opened Electric Lady to make the footage useable. Sadly, Jimi Hendrix was gone before the film was ever completed. He died in London on September 18th, 1970. Upon the film’s release in 1971, fans were confused by it as well as the meticulously overdubbed soundtrack album which premiered Hendrix studio material but didn’t actually include any music from the film or the two Maui sets.

Director John McDermott’s new documentary film chronicles the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s visit to Maui and the story of the film by incorporating period footage with new interviews with Chuck Wein, Billy Cox, Eddie Kramer, and others key figures. It’s presented in both editions of Experience Hendrix/Legacy’s release on Blu-ray, and the discs will also feature all of the existing 16mm colour footage from the two afternoon sets captured on July 30th, 1970 mixed in stereo and 5.1 surround.

The accompanying 2-CD set features Hendrix, Billy Cox, and Mitch Mitchell’s restored Maui sets, newly mixed by Eddie Kramer and mastered by Bernie Grundman. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” has been released as a preview single for the box. “Jimi loved adventure and there was certainly no shortage of it during his time in Hawaii, a place he also loved,” comments Janie Hendrix in the press release. “The back story of Rainbow Bridge and these recordings paint a picture of Jimi’s uncanny ability to turn the bizarre into something amazing! We’re excited about this release because it gives the world a closer look at Jimi’s genius.”

“Live in Maui” due on November 20th.

The Experience’s first three releases were 45s on Track Records, the independent label owned by The Who managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. All three reached the top ten of the UK pop charts in early 1967: “Hey Joe / Stone Free” made #6 in January, “Purple Haze” #3 in March and “The Wind Cries Mary” #6 in May. Naturally, their TV appearances at this time were largely vehicles for promoting these records but the most unusual broadcast we feature here is a studio session recorded for the experimental Dutch TV show Hoepla, where the band was encouraged to perform extended versions of their songs. Sound quality ranges from excellent (Dutch, French TV) to acceptable (UK TV). This album shows us just how good they sounded as they transition from psychedelic pop group to stadium rock band.

Side One
1 Foxy Lady
2 Purple Haze
3 Purple Haze
4 Wild Thing
5 The Wind Cries Mary
6 Hey Joe

Side Two
1 Hey Joe
2 Stone Free
3 Wild Thing
4 Stone Free
5 Like a Rolling Stone
6 Purple Haze

During his all-too-brief career, Jimi Hendrix navigated an uncharted course, following his muse and his talents wherever they would take him.  So much has been said about his guitar technique, his song writing, and his lyrics.  But as I lay listening to the 50th anniversary edition of Band of Gypsys, I realized that Hendrix was also a pioneer of that sometimes-maligned product, the concert recording.  At the time of its release in March of 1970, live albums had something of a bad rap.  Many were contractually obligated stop-gaps – excavated and thrown out into the marketplace by the label when an artist didn’t have new material.  Some of the worst offenders weren’t even live albums at all, but studio recordings overdubbed with canned applause and whoops from some disembodied audience.  With Band of Gypsys, Hendrix turned the live album on its head with an album of completely new tunes performed by a new ensemble with verve unmatched by most live albums to follow. And the recent audiophile vinyl reissue from Capitol/UMe proves that this collection still holds up, as exciting and boundary pushing as ever.

Now, it’s worth noting that Band of Gypsys came about due to a contractual obligation itself, but that doesn’t make it firmly part of that “let’s just throw this out to the unsuspecting public” category.  Hendrix was getting pressure from Reprise to follow up Electric Ladyland.  At the same time, a prior contract had allowed rival label Capitol to cash in on Hendrix’s early session work with a number of dubious releases.  By 1969, Hendrix and his former manager Ed Chalpin arrived at a deal that gave him exclusive distribution to a new album.  Hendrix had gathered together a new trio by October featuring bassist Billy Cox (who had served in Hendrix’s backup group at Woodstock) and drummer Buddy Miles, ex-Electric Flag.  They agreed to record the album of new material live onstage at New York City’s Fillmore East on New Year’s Eve, during what would be their first joint concert performance.

After weeks of rehearsals full of inspiring jams, the band was a well-oiled machine by New Year’s Eve with a clutch of songs that signalled a new direction for Hendrix.  But that’s not to say they were playing by the book.  For this new ensemble, improvisation reigned.  And the results are stunning – the sort of thing a listener can get lost in but also want to play again and again.  Album opener “Who Knows” lays into a grimy, bluesy groove with a positively funky bass line, giving the space for call-and-response verses and for Hendrix to traverse an array of effects and approaches to soloing: staccato lines with a harmonizer emphasizing the higher frequencies; fuzzy wah; slinky phase-shifting goodness… it’s all here.  What it may lack in structural complexity, it makes up for in instrumental artistry.  Next, “Machine Gun,” an anti-war blues dedicated to those fighting in Vietnam.  Here, Jimi’s guitar sounds like ten instruments at once.  Whether mimicking gunfire, eliciting squealing feedback, or attacking the whammy bar, Hendrix explores the limits of the instrument and his array of effects with a near-violent ferocity.

“Changes” (also known as “Them Changes”) gives Buddy Miles a chance to shine.  The more pop-oriented number alternates between gospel-tinged, almost Sam and Dave-like soul and a catchy, repeated riff from Hendrix.  While it may not be as engaging as the more expansive improvisations on the album, it’s still an enjoyable performance of a song that would become a minor soul hit when it was re-recorded by Miles a few months after Hendrix’s death.  The fiery “Power To Love” (a.k.a. “Power of Soul”) begins with a bluesy lead into an almost rockabilly groove.   But just as you think you know what follows, the band launches into a funky groove putting Hendrix’s guitar squarely at the forefront.  With shifting meters, rapid-fire double-stops, and the humanist refrain “With the power of soul, anything is possible,” it shows Hendrix embracing influences from funk as well as rock, and branching out into more universal lyrical themes.  “Message of Love” (a.k.a. “Message to Love”) is even jauntier and funkier.  While “Power to Love” was at times meandering, “Message of Love” is taut and seems primed to be a single, down to the “Yeah! Woo!” interjections from Miles and Cox.  And while it’s based on a straightforward groove, Hendrix stretches the tune out with mind-blowing solos and plenty of rhythmic switches, even venturing into gospel territory at times.  The album concludes with Miles’ “We Gotta Live Together,” a jam with a James Brown-like funk feel.  It blasts off into the heavens halfway through as Hendrix conjures guitar squeals as he solos, frenzied, with an array of effects atop a gospel groove.   As the group continues to pick up the pace, Hendrix suddenly hammers out ten huge-sounding power chords, seemingly signaling an end to the thrilling program.

Whether locked into a Buddy Miles composition or branching out into his arsenal of pedals and boxes to break the boundaries of his instrument, Jimi Hendrix reached new heights on Band of Gypsys.  Fifty years on, the material not only still feels fresh, but it sounds better than ever on the recent 50th anniversary vinyl edition (digital versions of this master are also available).  Fully authorized by Experience Hendrix, the new edition features all-analog mastering from the original master tapes.  The music was pressed on 180-gram vinyl, plated at QRP.  The result is a flawless, tick- and pop-free experience that allows the music to shine without all the pesky deficits that can plague the medium.  As for packaging, this edition features a beautiful gatefold sleeve, a huge 24″x36″  replica of a 1970 Band of Gypsys promo poster, and a booklet with an in-depth essay by Hendrix historian and producer John McDermott who details the creation and impact of this legendary recording.

In all, the fiftieth anniversary edition of Band of Gypsys reminds the listener of just how vital a live album can be.  Even one born from a contractual dispute can be a canvas for some of the most electrifying, visceral musical artistry.  Here, Hendrix raised the bar once more, proving not only his technical prowess, but his unmitigated vision of what music can be.  If you don’t have this album – or, more likely, even if you own it a few times over – you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy and remind yourself just how great music can be.

Band of Gypsys: 50th Anniversary Edition is available now

Jimi Hendrix “Live at the Fillmore” It was 50 years ago this year that the iconic “Band of Gypsys” performances were immortalized on acetate.

On January 28th, 1970, at Madison Square Garden, Jimi Hendrix spoke his last words as a member of Band Of Gypsys: “That’s what happens when Earth fucks with space.”

He then left the stage, stumbling under the effects of either exhaustion or a psychedelic mickey, possibly slipped to him by his manager, Mike Jeffrey. A mere two songs into their set at the Winter Peace Concert, the show was over – as was the band. But just a month earlier, when the group had played four sets at the Fillmore East, things had seemed much more promising.

Consisting of Hendrix and the rhythm section of Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums), Band Of Gypsies evolved out of Gypsy Sun & Rainbows, the larger group Hendrix had assembled to play Woodstock. Cox was an old army buddy from Hendrix’s time in the 101st Airborne and Miles, late of the Electric Flag, had crossed paths with Hendrix at Monterey Pop a few years earlier. Hendrix had often bemoaned his lack of engagement with black audience so perhaps an all-black group would be the ticket, as well as allowing him to realize a funkier musical vision. As he told Al Aronowitz in an interview in the New York Post that ran January 2nd, 1970: “Now I want to bring it down to earth. I want to get back to the blues, because that’s what I am.”

Hendrix’s nagging insecurities about his voice also came into play. “I’d rather just play,” he told Aronowitz,”I never sang before. In England they made me sing, but Buddy has the right voice, he’s going to do the singing from now on.” According to his engineer Eddie Kramer in the April 2020 issue of Mojo Magazine, Hendrix came to regret that decision when it came to selecting the tracks and mixing the Band of Gypsys album. “We get to one of Buddy’s long rants where he goes on and on and on, and I could just see Jimi’s head with his hat on get lower and lower, and finally he folds his arms and rests his head down on the console. And he says, ‘Ahhh Buddy, I wish you would shut the fuck up.’”

With much of the impetus for the Fillmore East concerts coming from the need to deliver an album to Capitol Records, an obligation dating back to 1965, Hendrix might have rushed the gig a bit. He admitted as much in an April 1970 interview with Melody Maker’s Keith Altham, saying “I wasn’t too satisfied with the Band of Gypsys album. If it had been up to me I would have never put it out. From a musician’s point of view it was not a good recording and I was out of tune on a few things. Not enough preparation went into it and it came out a bit ‘grizzly’ – we all felt shaky. The thing was we owed the record company an album and they were pushing us – so here it is.”

And now here it is 50 years later and the Experience Hendrix promotional machine is wasting no time celebrating an album that was definitely the weakest of the four released during his lifetime. There’s also Songs For Groovy Children, a box set they released last year, which included all four concerts the Band of Gypsys played on December 31st 1969 and January 1st 1970. That set proved the risks of being a completist, with four ragged versions of “Stop,” a rote soul number by Jerry Ragavoy/Mort Shuman that sounded way better when Howard Tate sang it. But there were also a number of mind-blowing performances that had been left in the vaults. Using the benefit of hindsight – and as someone who agrees with Hendrix’s later opinion of Miles – here is my definitive single-disc distillation of those four nights at the Fillmore, a collection I’m calling:

SIDE ONE

“Power of Soul” (December 31st, 1969 – First Set) Why not start with the first song of the first set? While Hendrix’s voice sounds a little thin on this recording, his guitar snarls with a thrilling complexity, dealing out riffs and solos like winning hands in a high-stakes poker game. Buddy’s vocal contribution works, giving you an idea of why Hendrix thought their collaboration would work. The guitar does most of the talking anyway, with a dazzling introduction that goes on for over half the length of the song.

“Message to Love” (December 31st, 1969 – Second Set) While the vocal interaction is a little rough, this exuberant slice of funky soul keeps the energy going, with some thrilling unison work from Hendrix.

“Machine Gun” (January 1st, 1970 – Second Set) There is no bad live recording of this extraordinary anti-war tone poem. In fact, I was tempted to make Band of Gypsys into The Machine Gun Variations and leave it at that. Instead, I chose to have it end side one. What this take has over the one used on the original album (1/1/70 – 1st set) is the sense of pain on the part of the victims of war, with their screams getting equal time alongside the sounds of the weapons of war. Hendrix’s first solo is almost pure anguish, with the eerie backing vocals the only sign of humanity. The quieter sections seem to invent a new kind of dub blues, with Miles’ drums taking on a horrific inevitability, like putting one foot in front of the other even though each step takes you closer to certain doom. Among the many tragedies of Hendrix’s early death is the fact that he was never able to complete a fully realized studio version of “Machine Gun.”

SIDE TWO

“Izabella” (December 31st, 1969 – First Set) This loose bit of roadhouse, gutbucket riffage seems the perfect way to kick off side two after the dread of “Machine Gun.” Even though he played it first, it fits here well, as Hendrix introduced it by saying, “I’d like to do this song dedicated to maybe a soldier in the army, singing about his old lady that he dreams about and humping a machine gun instead.” Why they left this off the original to make room for two Buddy Miles originals (the clichéd “Changes” and the hippy jive of “We Gotta Live Together”) I’ll never know.

“Bleeding Heart” (December 31st, 1969 – First Set) This slow, elegant extrapolation of the Elmore James classic must be what Hendrix was talking about when he said he wanted to get back to the blues. While he also played “Hear My Train A-Comin’” (once) and “Earth Blues” (three times), this is the best pure blues of the the two-night stand.

“Who Knows” (December 31st, 1969 – Second Set) “Happy New Year, goodbye ’69,” Hendrix improvises at the start of this first-ever performance of “Who Knows.” While the song never rises above a jam, Hendrix seems to really enjoy trading lines with Miles, getting into the inconsequential fun of lyrics like, “They don’t know (they don’t know)/About my baby (about my baby),” before letting his Strat rip the Fillmore’s roof off.

“Ezy Ryder” (December 31st, 1969 – First Set) Another debut performance, this time for a song Hendrix would focus on for his next album and perform at many concerts to the end of his life. Perhaps he left it off Band of Gypsys because he was already holding the image of what it would become in his mind. But this version, which Hendrix introduces by saying, “I seen this picture called Easy Rider, and I was mad as hell…We’re going to call this thing “Ezy Ryder,” we’ll just make up the words as we go along because we’ve got about 20 verses of it,” is savagely entertaining. Miles and Cox can barely keep up as Hendrix alternates between stop-start riffs and furious soloing. The ascending chords at the end take it over the top – and then drag you down to earth, a perfect ending for my perfected Band of Gypsys.

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There’s no discography in rock like Jimi Hendrix’s, not because he died at the age of just 27 but because–unlike Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, all also gone at the age of 27 years of age, Hendrix was a true improviser. So in his case, The concert tapes merit prolonged attention. Jimi Hendrix’s studio career began in October 1966 and ended when he asphyxiated on his own vomit in September 1970. While alive he generated three albums with the Jimi Hendrix Experience (Brits Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums) plus the live Band of Gypsys LP (Africa-Americans Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums). That he left behind a much vaster body of important music reflects his enduring status as the greatest electric guitarist ever. How many versions of “Foxy Lady” do you need to hear ? So start deciding here.

Jimi Hendrix was despite being so enigmatic and galvanizing in front of a live audience, he actually hated being out on the road. In his defense, “the road” in the 1960s was an unforgiving and punishing place to be, especially when plotted out in advance by Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery. One night he and his band, The Experience, would be playing a gym in Santa Barbara, California, and the next night they’d find themselves in an arena in Seattle, Washington. Patently brutal. Then there was the added anxiety of being far away from the recording studio — the place where he felt most at home. To Hendrix, touring was more stress than it was worth. It was just something he had to do to keep the black lights at Electric Lady Studios on.

Jimi Hendrix was only on the scene for about four years of his life, but he absolutely made the most of that time. Amid a vast number of classic, immortal live recordings, he toured incessantly and performed an incredible number of live shows that still have the ability to shock and surprise nearly 50 years on. From the Fillmore East to the Fillmore West, from Woodstock and Monterey to Paris, and London, and everywhere else that he and whatever group was backing him went, the possibility that real magic might present itself .

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THE OLYMPIA THEATRE  Paris– OCTOBER 18th, 1966

Some concerts are bound to get a little more shine due to their historic nature, like this gig at the Olympia Theatre in Paris from 1966. This was the first time that The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, played together as a group in front of a paying audience — opening for the “French Elvis Presley”, Johnny Hallyday, no less. This was the first recorded live set as opposed to Hendrix’s last known gig at the Isle of Fehmarn on September 6th, 1970, other highlights are maybe his performance at the Isle of Wight a few weeks earlier, but both of those are kind of shambolic and more than a little morbid. Even though this show was only 15 minutes long, you get a real sense of the kind of fire Hendrix was playing with around the time he first hit the scene. The band’s first single, “Hey Joe”, sounds great, but it’s the Howlin’ Wolf cover “Killing Floor” that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Rumour has it that there were 14,500 people attending, however the theatre can’t hold more than 2,500. During the first part of the show the JHE played for just 15 minutes and did three songs. Jimi also played guitar during the finale before the intermission. Chas Chandler and Jimi watched the performance of Johnny Hallyday and Chas made a study of Hallyday’s stage-act. After the show everyone (including Chas Chandler) went to a Paris nightclub. The 1966 tour of France marked the first shows performed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, on October 13th. This was only one week after the formation of the band, after drummer Mitch Mitchell joined on October 6.

THE MONTEREY POP FESTIVAL – JUNE 18th, 1967

When Jimi Hendrix left New York City for the UK in 1966, hardly anyone in his home country even noticed. When he came back on June 18th, 1967, for the Monterey Pop Festival in northern California, they could hardly tear their eyes away. As opposed to Woodstock where one song transcended the rest of the Hendrix’s set, at Monterey, the guitarist’s violent, sexually charged rendition of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” was a culmination. Seemingly intent on topping The Who’s explosive performance of “My Generation” that preceded him, when it came to ending his own showing, Hendrix pulled out all the stops. Even watching now, the display of him grinding his custom-painted Stratocaster against the stack of Marshall amps before throwing it down to the ground and riding it like a familiar love is shocking to behold. Then comes the lighter fluid; and then the match and then the flames. At Monterey, Hendrix threw down the gauntlet to his generation of fellow artists: Either become daring, or remain irrelevant.

This remastered version of 1986’s Jimi Plays Monterey features one of Hendrix’s most significant performances: What was his breakthrough show at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18th, 1967. You can’t see him set his guitar on fire here, but you can hear the electricity surging through the festival grounds. Most of the songs come from Hendrix’s just-released debut album, “Are You Experienced” along with a few blues covers, like the scorching set-opener, Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.”

Hendrix was such a creative mercurial genius that no two shows were ever alike. His legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival captures The Experience in full flow, culminating with an incendiary version of Wild Thing . Although not available in full until 2007, half of his extraordinary set was released in 1970 with highlights from Otis Redding’s equally memorable appearance as Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival. Now that’s a concert bill to go down in history.

THE CAFÉ AU GO-GO – New York City MARCH 17th, 1968

One of the great things about going to any live show is the feeling that anything can happen. The patrons of the small Café Au Go-Go Club in New York City couldn’t have known when they ordered their drinks that they were about to witness one of the great, public rock and roll jam sessions of all time that spring night. To be sure, Hendrix was known to play around town while in New York City, but this gig with Elvin Bishop on rhythm guitar, Paul Butterfield on harmonica and vocals, and Buddy Miles on the drums is some next-level stuff. It’s clear from the recording that the guys were just interested in messing around, but there are some real spine-tingling moments to be gleaned here like the pickup group’s all-instrumental rendition of “Little Wing” or the cover of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday.” Jimi jammed (on ‘a rainy night’) with Paul Caruso (vocal & harmonica), Buddy Miles (vocal & drums) Elvin Bishop (guitar), James Tatum (saxophone), Herbie Rich (organ), Harvey Brooks (bass), Phillip Wilson (drums).  Jimi recorded the jam on his Sony reel-to-reel deck from the mixing board. Featured are “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” “Stormy Monday,” “Three Little Bears,” and “Little Wing.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live In Ottawa

OTTAWA CANADA CAPITAL THEATRE  March 19TH, 1968

This unique, authorized ‘bootleg’ release features a raw, two-track mixing console recording of Jimi’s March 19th, 1968 concert in Ottawa, Canada.

Jimi’s appearance in Ottawa was part of an extensive US tour organized in support of his recently issued second album, “Axis: Bold As Love”. The guitarist arrived in New York on January 30th, 1968 and immediately took part in a press reception organized by publicist Michael Goldstein. Goldstein dubbed the event “The British Are Coming” and made the Experience, as well as the other groups in the Michael Jeffery/Chas Chandler stable available to journalists and photographers at the Copter Lounge atop the Pan Am building in Manhattan.

Following the media hoopla in New York, the Experience flew to San Francisco where their tour began in earnest at the Fillmore Auditorium on February 1st. Eight shows over the course of four memorable nights at the Fillmore and Winterland Ballroom launched the tour in grand fashion.  From San Francisco, the Experience ventured across the US, performing at a mix of clubs, colleges, and medium sized auditoriums. Despite the growing popularity of Are You Experienced, issued the previous August by Reprise, Jimi’s US distributor, the Experience had only begun to develop a national following.  As a result, limited finances eschewed the comforts of a tour bus and made leasing a tour airplane unfathomable.  Instead, the group, guided by their faithful road manager Gerry Stickells, made much of their journey across the country in a rented station wagon.  In what can only be described as a remarkable test of their endurance and enthusiasm, the Experience performed sixty concerts in sixty days during the first leg of this tour.

Five weeks into their dizzying tour itinerary, the Experience arrived in Ottawa to perform two shows at the city’s venerable Capitol Theater. As he often did when performing two concerts in one evening, Jimi varied his set lists.  He maintained some staples such as “Fire” and “Foxy Lady” in each concert, but in the evening’s early performance, of which no recording is known, newspaper reviews reveal that he featured “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “I Don’t Live Today”.  These songs were not revived for the second show, but in their place came “Spanish Castle Magic”, an energetic reading of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and the lengthy instrumental workout “Tax Free”.

Experience concerts bore little resemblance to seamlessly produced present day rock events.  In 1968, a Jimi Hendrix concert was truly a counter cultural gathering, fueled in large part by the support of underground radio and college newspapers.  The concerts themselves were miles away from today’s rigidly structured events which more often resemble a Broadway production than a traditional rock and roll show.  Technically, Jimi lacked virtually everything from amplifiers capable of withstanding his sonic demands to adequate stage monitoring [during this era, Mitch was often without any monitoring whatsoever].  There were no light cues or pyrotechnics timed to announce Hendrix’s arrival onstage. Jimi simply walked out, greeted the crowd, and would quickly tune his guitar.  During the performance, technical demands and other challenges were either solved on the fly or not at all.  This hasty work invariably took place in plain view of the audience.  Jimi’s Ottawa performance was no different.  As he and his crew struggled to overcome a variety of technical difficulties, Jimi peppered the crowd with his sly wit.

If a desultory [and now rather humorous] review of Jimi’s performance, printed the following morning in the Ottawa Citizen, can be believed, the Experience sold out the second concert of the evening. It is this inspired performance which is featured on this disc.

The concert at the Capital Theater took place four days after the March 15th, Clark University performance issued as the second Dagger Records release in this series.  Like that show, the Experience were in top form throughout.  The grinding toll of their first major US tour was masked by the group’s upbeat demeanor and spirited performance.  Most important, coupled together with Live At Clark University, Live In Ottawa provides a compelling and detailed look at the Experience cresting at the peak of their friendship and unity.

There is much to be relished in this unpolished recording.  Jimi’s train whistle feedback announces his powerhouse rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor”.  A stinging “Red House”, Jimi’s own blues masterwork, is even stronger.  Live In Ottawa also presents the earliest live version of “Tax Free” issued to date.  Here Mitchell and Redding push Hendrix insistently throughout the song’s complex arrangement.  The expanded introduction to “Hey Joe”, a precursor to the more elaborate efforts which would follow in the weeks and months to come, is wickedly clever and no doubt a salve to Hendrix’s restless creative spirit.  The guitarist loathed having to replicate his hits in the same manner night after night.  It is alterations and embellishments such as these which made every Jimi Hendrix performance so unique.

More than three decades later, it is performances such as these which reveal just how exciting it was to have a witnessed a Jimi Hendrix Experience concert.

How and why the concert was recorded is somewhat of a mystery.  The performance was not professionally recorded, as were later Hendrix performances at Woodstock and the Fillmore East.  Nonetheless, Jimi was obviously well aware of a tape recorder capturing the proceedings.  During his set, he made mention of it onstage, exhorting the crowd at one point to cheer so that the group’s girlfriends wouldn’t think they had bombed in Ottawa!

It is possible that Jimi himself recorded this performance on his own Sony reel to reel tape machine.  He frequently made recordings of various jam sessions and club performances for his own enjoyment.  It is more likely, however, that member of the Capital Theater stage crew documented the performance for posterity.  All of Jimi’s performance is presented in its original running order.  “Wild Thing”, the final song of the evening, cuts out just as Jimi tore through the song’s unforgettable opening chord sequence.  Apparently, the tape operator loaded his reel to reel tape machine with a 2400 hundred foot spool of blank tape.  Such a spool would provide slightly more than sixty minutes of recording time at seven and a half inches per second.  The recording begins with the introduction of the group by CKOY radio personality Nelson Davis and continues until the spool runs out. Lost is the balance of “Wild Thing”, but most of us know what happens at the end there …

MIAMI POP FESTIVAL, MAY 18th 1968

Never previously available in any form, Miami Pop Festival, introduces the first recorded stage performances of “Hear My Train A Comin'” and “Tax Free” while showcasing definitive live takes on such classics as “Fire,” “Hey Joe,” “I Don’t Live Today” and “Purple Haze.” The package includes never before published photos taken at the festival and an essay by award-winning music journalist and Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli. This album includes the show as originally recorded on site by Hendrix’s long term sound engineer, Eddie Kramer.

Footage of Hendrix performing at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival was revealed in the two-hour documentary American Masters: Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train a Comin’, the film debuts, you can get an look at this amazing clip of Hendrix performing “Foxy Lady” onstage in Miami on May 18th, 1968 during his headlining set. The video depicts the famed left-handed guitarist powering through one of his most enduring numbers. Sporting a fedora, blond streaks in his hair, a puffy white shirt and red velvet pants, Hendrix clearly stuns his daytime audience with his explosive, soulful playing.

This live album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, documenting their May 18th, 1968 performance at the Miami Pop Festival. It album features eight songs recorded during their evening performance, along with two afternoon-show performances.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At Woburn

WOBURN MUSIC FESTIVAL on JULY 6th, 1968

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At Woburn is the eleventh release in the Dagger Records authorized ‘bootleg’ recording series. Live At Woburn presents a 100% previously unreleased concert recording capturing The Jimi Hendrix Experience in concert at the Woburn Music Festival on July 6th, 1968.

The Woburn Music Festival was one of Britain’s first large scale, open-air rock music events. Staged by brothers Richard “Rik” and John Gunnell, who were well respected individuals in the burgeoning London music scene where they were heavily involved in many aspects including band managed, show promoters and club owners. Rik in particular, who owned three fashionable 1960’s London nightspots—the Ram Jam Club, Flamingo, and Bag O’ Nails—presented authentic, first generation American icons like John Lee Hooker and Otis Redding and some of the brightest examples of a swelling wave of emerging British talent such as The Rolling Stones, Jack Bruce and Georgie Fame.

Jimi’s co-managers Chas Chandler and Michael Jeffery—a fellow nightclub entrepreneur—enjoyed a friendship with Gunnell. Gunnell had been an early supporter of The Animals, and extended the same courtesy to Hendrix and The Experience, presenting some of the group’s earliest London engagements.

Jimi’s popularity had grown exponentially since those early days in 1966 and he arrived at the Woburn Festival as its eagerly anticipated headline act. This anticipation was fueled in part by Jimi’s absence from Britain. The Experience had spent much of 1968 touring and recording in America and had not performed live in Britain since December 1967.

Woburn Music Festival featured separate afternoon and evening sets for both Saturday and Sunday. While rhythm & blues was the primary focus with Gunnell drawing heavily from his own talent pool, casting John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Alexis Korner, and Geno Washington together with the more folk influenced Pentangle, Roy Harper, and Tim Rose. The Jimi Hendrix Experience were scheduled to close the Saturday evening show where an enthusiastic crowd some 14,000 strong turned out for the performance.

Axis: Bold As Love was still a top selling album in July 1968 but Jimi had long since moved on to new challenges. To Hendrix, performances such as Woburn were unique, shared experiences and not simply personal appearances intended to help shift units of albums or singles. At Woburn, Jimi skipped songs from Axis: Bold As Love altogether, electing instead to ‘jam’ as he called it kicking off his set with a spirited “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” regrettably missed in part by the late start of the recording machine]. The trio followed “Sgt. Pepper” with “Fire,” and despite beset with buzzing, crackles and otherwise unwanted noises throughout their set, uThe Experience continued to persevere doing their best to surmount the technical problems that hampered an otherwise animated set.

Jimi may have bypassed Axis: Bold As Love, but he did foreshadow his next album at Woburn, stretching out a marvelous “Tax Free,” a contender for Electric Ladyland and a favourite Experience vehicle for improvisation. Hendrix followed up with an extended improvisational rendition of “Red House” before diving into “Foxey Lady.” He also offered his Woburn audience what he called, ‘…a song that we recorded for our new LP. It’s nothing but a hard rock—it’s called “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”.

Equipment problems were always an irritant for Jimi and Woburn was no exception. He prefaced “Purple Haze,” the group’s final song, with an apology. “We’re very sorry that we have to play through broken amplifiers,” he explained. “Like I said before, it’s really a hang up. It’s very hard to get our own sound across so we would like to end it and say thank you very much for showing up. We would like to do this last song “Purple Haze.” Jimi kicked off a boisterous feedback opening, buttressed by Mitchell and Redding and complete with tremolo bar swoops, wah-wah pedal shadings and soaring dive bomb styled bursts that transitioned seamlessly into the song’s unmistakable opening notes. At its conclusion, the audience roared with approval. While no microphones were positioned to fully capture the intensity of their reaction, their enthusiasm and calls for more can be easily heard through Jimi and Noel’s stage microphones.

The Experience’s performance at Woburn Music Festival would mark the trio’s last performance in England until the two celebrated concerts in February 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall.

Technical Note:

Like many of the live releases issued as part of the Dagger Records series, The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At Woburn was not professionally recorded using multi-track technology. It was instead drawn from a recording made from the stage soundboard.

As a result, the recording is not without its share of flaws and technical limitations. The recording is raw and occasionally overdriven but it effectively presents all of the voices and instruments onstage. In addition to the aforementioned late start on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the ending of “Tax Free” was lost when the tape ran out. Fortunately, the tape spool was rethreaded and recording resumed for the start of “Red House”. It is entirely possible that another song was performed and not recorded but there is no firm evidence to definitively confirm this either way.

As noted, the buzzing, crackling and static not otherwise emanating from Jimi and Noel’s battered amplifiers are part of this historical document. Its flaws notwithstanding, this recording represents the only known documentation of this significant performance. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At Woburn, despite its technical imperfections, supplies yet
another fascinating piece to the Hendrix puzzle.

THE WINTERLAND BALLROOM – OCTOBER 11th, 1968

The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed six shows over three days at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom in October 1968. This four-disc set gathers 35 of the songs, plus a rambling interview Hendrix gave backstage from another venue a month later. it’s the cover tunes that make it worth hearing. The Highlight: a bluesy, crawling take on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Burning guitars and rockets red-glaring aside, this show, the second in a run of three dates in San Francisco, was the absolute peak of Jimi Hendrix’s live performance career. Throughout its history, the Winterland Ballroom was a venue that brought the best out of those who performed there, whether it was Led Zeppelin in 1969, The Band in 1976, or Bruce Springsteen and the Sex Pistols in 1978. Hendrix, already one of the best live acts on the scene at the time, with a tremendously loyal and dedicated following in the Bay Area, brought his pure A-game to the Bill Graham-promoted concert hall.

It’s actually a pretty tall order to pick from which of the three nights from the 10th through the 12th was the best of the bunch. On the first evening, you have a tremendous, electrified version of “Hear My Train a Comin’” to go along with a twisted, psychedelic rendition of “Tax Free”. On the last night, there’s that great cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and an explosive “Spanish Castle Magic”. But then you have the second night, and Hendrix gives you perhaps the best version of “Purple Haze” that he ever performed live to go along with a mind-blowing cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. You can’t go wrong with any of these gigs to be perfectly honest, and taken together, they really are the iconic guitarist at the very top of his game.

“Jimi Hendrix Experience- Winterland”  (versions available: 4 Disc Deluxe Box Set or 8 12″ 180 gram Vinyl Audiophile LP Deluxe Box Set .

Winterland is drawn from six stellar shows recorded over three days (October 10th, 11th and 12th, 1968) at San Francisco’s historic Winterland Ballroom.  These special performances celebrated the two year anniversary of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and came just as the groundbreaking album “Electric Ladyland” was released.

Winterland presents some of Hendrix’s most spectacular guitar work and the four CD set (also available as eight 12″ vinyl LPs) is filled with rare live versions of classic songs such as “Manic Depression,” “Are You Experienced?,” “Tax Free,” and “Little Wing” that are not part of any other Sony Legacy release.  Fans will also enjoy Hendrix’s dramatic interpretations of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” [with the Experience joined by Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady] as well his rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” which has been selected as the lead track for this special release.

This special deluxe box set features never before released music from each of the six unforgettable Winterland performances.  The new standard and deluxe editions of Winterland are markedly different from a single disc compilation, long out of print, that was briefly issued by Rykodisc in 1987 and 1988.

The deluxe edition also presents a rare interview with Hendrix recorded backstage at the Boston Garden a few weeks after the Winterland performances.  This previously unreleased bonus provides fans with a unique window into Hendrix’s views about his background, his approach to the guitar and songwriting and future direction of his music. The deluxe edition also features a 36 page booked filled with previously unpublished images by acclaimed photographers Robert Knight, Allen Tannenbaum and Jim Marshall as well as an essay by noted Rolling Stone journalist David Fricke.

The featured track, “Like A Rolling Stone,” will precede the album’s release as a CD and 7″ vinyl single . The single will also feature a previously unreleased live version of “Purple Haze” from the Winterland concerts that will not be featured on the box set.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live In Cologne

LIVE IN SPORTHALLE COLOGNE , JANUARY 13th 1979 

Live in Cologne is a posthumous live album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released in November 2012, The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live In Cologne, the twelfth release in the Dagger Records official bootleg series, documents this spirited, January 13th, 1969 performance at the Sporthalle in Cologne,
Germany.

Hendrix kicked off the proceedings with a scalding “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” from Electric Ladyland. This Earl King chestnut had long been a favorite of Jimi’s and here he began with a driving solo introduction before signaling Redding and Mitchell to join. Next followed a blistering version of “Foxey Lady,” a perennial stage favorite. An abrupt tape cut precedes a memorable rendition of “Red House.” Thankfully the performance is essentially complete lacking only Jimi’s prefacing stage banter, offered as he likely changed guitars before starting. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” followed next, not yet established as Jimi’s closing number as it would become later in 1969 and remain so throughout his career, but no less muscular.

Jimi then shifted directly into “Fire” and then a thunderous “Spanish Castle Magic.” The Experience were clearly locked in sync, pushing each other throughout all to the delight of their audience. The Experience never backed off, launching next into their first single “Hey Joe.” Jimi had to do some quick tuning on the fly, but he pressed on undaunted, boldly dashing off a lick from the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” as he barreled through this uptempo rendition. This driving intensity built up after the solo, underscored by Jimi’s rhythm guitar work and Mitchell’s superb drumming before culminating in a rousing finale.

“Sunshine Of Your Love” was offered in tribute to Cream, all to the delight of the audience whose howls of approval can be heard even during Redding’s bass solo. “Star Spangled Banner” and “Purple Haze” capped off a truly memorable night and then the Experience were gone, whisked off to the next city and another unsuspecting audience.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live In Cologne is like other releases in the Dagger Records series. This album was not drawn from professionally recorded masters but instead an amateur, monophonic audience recording. As a result, the recording is not without various technical flaws and sonic limitations. Nonetheless, this special ‘official bootleg’ stands as a captivating document of this important chapter of Jimi’s legacy.

THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL – FEBRUARY 24th, 1969

It was over 50 years ago when the Jimi Hendrix Experience played an important concert at the Royal Albert Hall on February 24th, 1969. Although captured on film by a team of cameramen, the event seemed consigned to history and became just a distant memory of those lucky enough to be there. So, at the Royal Albert Hall the first concert was held on February 18th, 1969 . A week later on February 24th. the first show hadn’t been filmed because the lighting in the hall wasn’t sufficiently bright. On that occasion, the Experience was supported by a post-Traffic group billed as Mason, Capaldi, Wood & Frog plus Soft Machine. The first show was okay, if not wonderful.

Of course it was the music we came to experience and the sheer riveting power exercised by Jimi with that fingertip control of his trusty Fender guitar, was mesmerising. There were moments when he drifted away on secretive spiritual journeys, then came the blasting back down to earth, crash landing into total funk grind, all the while unleashing familiar riffs and teasing melodies.

Stone Free set us free from the outset. It wandered through different grooves but was always brought under control by the drummer and bass player, loyally responding to Jimi’s changing musical moods. A nod here, a glare there – there was no mistaking his unspoken directions. And when Jimi turned them loose, it was Mitch Mitchell who shone with a tumultuous drum solo that drew cheers from an audience not even at a ‘live’ concert but straining their necks to gaze up at the pulsating screen.

Mitch was always a highly regarded drummer even from his R&B days with Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames. His freewheeling style blossomed with the Experience, but could be erratic at times. Not so on the night in question. As the tiny figure launched into an astonishing assault on his double bass drum Ludwig kit, he disappeared in a mass of flying hair and shining cymbals. All we could see were the sticks flailing. On that night he out-drummed ‘em all, Baker and Bonham included. Noel Redding too stayed on the ball throughout. While never the focus of extensive camera attention, (given that all eyes were on Jimi), his bass playing gave sturdy support for Hendrix and Noel formed a perfect team mate for Mitch in the rhythm section.

As the show progressed Jimi embarked on a series of hypnotic performances playing such songs as Lover Man, I Don’t Live Today and the ultimate blues anthem Red House. The crowd leapt from the seats for Foxy Lady, Fire, Little Wing and Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), and sprawled exhausted for Purple Haze, the wonderful Wild Thing and Jimi’s tilt at the Star Spangled Banner, an anthem the former paratrooper must have heard played many a time during his 101st Airborne days.

‘Thank you very much!’ Was all Jimi could say to his audience after such a physically exhausting and emotionally draining performance that saw him kicking over Marshall amps and smashing a guitar to smithereens and finally hurling the broken neck out into the once restrained and now hysterical audience.

It was one of Hendrix manager Michael Jeffrey’s more canny moves that this gig was even booked in the first place. Originally, he and The Experience were only supposed to perform at the Royal Albert Hall for one night on February 18th, which was due to be recorded for a potential live album, but Jeffrey was worried that the band wouldn’t make the grade. His concern proved correct as both Redding and Mitchell sounded utterly lethargic at that show.

The band only had one more shot to make up for their lackluster performance, thus this gig a week later where they absolutely killed. Hendrix clearly knew that he and the band were on fire and actually went back on at the end of the night for a positively rare encore of the exceedingly rarely played “Room Full of Mirrors”. This ended up being the last show that The Experience would ever play together in Europe.

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WOODSTOCK – AUGUST 18th, 1969

One transcendent moment does not a complete concert make. Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock will forever stand as one of the defining moments of the ‘60s, but the rest of the show around that singular and notably solo – rendition of the American national anthem is somewhat shambolic. For this gig, Hendrix brought together his regular drummer, Mitch Mitchell, and his Army buddy and Band of Gypsys bassist, Buddy Cox, but also an overstuffed array of world musicians who clearly weren’t ready to tackle this material. That this was also the longest performance of Hendrix’s career actually doesn’t help its case as one might assume either. It’s not a complete disaster, however, as both “Woodstock Improvisation” and “Hey Joe” are undeniably fantastic.

Hendrix’s festival-closing set is the stuff of legend — mostly because his instrumental take on “Star Spangled Banner” sounds like a thousand bombs dropping on unsuspecting hippies at an ungodly hour. This 1999 album gathers almost his entire show (two songs sung by a rhythm guitarist are MIA), which was made up of familiar songs like “Foxey Lady” and “Purple Haze,” as well as a few blues covers. And “Star Spangled Banner,” of course.

As celebrated as Hendrix’s appearance at the Woodstock Festival was, the double disc release containing Jimi’s entire 16-track performance is nothing short of an exhausting listen. The band weren’t as tight as they should have been and Jimi extended every track to within an inch of its life, not always to its advantage. While it’s undeniably great to have access to a good quality recording of the fabled show, chances are you’ll find yourself returning to a select few incendiary performances – more than likely ‘Foxey Lady’, ‘Red House’ and the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ – but most of it is far too reliant upon seemingly endless jam sessions, and there’s only so much of that you handle at one sitting without the heady visuals to match.

Woodstock Music & Art Festival, Bethel, New York

Set List: Message To Love Hear My Train A Comin’ Spanish Castle Magic, Red House Mastermind [Larry Lee] Lover Man Foxey Lady Jam Back At The House Izabella Gypsy Woman [Larry Lee] Fire Voodoo Child (Slight Return) Star Spangled Banner Purple Haze Woodstock Improvisation Villanova Junction Blues Hey Joe

Beginning in July 1969, Jimi relocated to Shokan, a quiet upstate New York village near Woodstock for the balance of the summer. Here Hendrix was accorded sufficient time to relax and refine his new musical direction. In time, the rustic summer retreat served to rejuvenate his creative spirit. “Jimi was taking a kind of vacation out in the country, trying to get his act together,” explains Eddie Kramer. “It was all part of his developmental process, wood shedding if you want to call it that. With Billy Cox in tow, Jimi revisited his Tennessee roots once more, reaching back to guitarist Larry Lee, another old friend and veteran of the chitlin’ circuit. Where Cox had been actively involved in various music projects prior to heeding Jimi’s call, Lee had just returned from a stint in Vietnam. Also invited to Hendrix’s vacation retreat were percussionists Jerry Velez and Juma Sultan. Hendrix met Velez at Steve Paul’s Scene Club prior to the break up of the Experience. “I had just finished jamming with The McCoys,” explains Velez. “When I walked over to my table, Jimi and his entourage were sitting behind me. A little later, I joined the band on stage again for a few more tunes. When I came back to sit down, he leaned over and said, ‘Listen, I’m recording this jam over at the studio tonight. We’ll be starting around four, after this thing ends tonight. Do you want to come down and jam?’ I said sure. I went over that night and jammed with Jimi and Buddy Miles, and we seemed to hit it off.” Juma Sultan was actively involved with the Aboriginal Music Society in Woodstock, New York, and was a highly respected percussionist who would performed regularly at the Tinker Street Cinema. Both were received well during their jam’s back at the house and were invited to join Hendrix’s expanded ensemble, Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. In the weeks prior to the Woodstock festival, Jimi jammed at his rented home, as well as the Tinker Street Cinema in downtown Woodstock. Making its first and only official public appearance, Hendrix’s expanded ensemble Gypsy Sun and Rainbows performs at the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in Bethel, New York. Hendrix takes to the Woodstock stage on Monday morning with the support of Mitch Mitchell (drums), Billy Cox (bass & backing vocals), Larry Lee (rhythm guitar), Juma Sultan (percussion), and Jerry Velez (percussion). His extended set includes his magnificent rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”.

THE FILLMORE EAST – JANUARY 1st, 1970

The one and only performance of the short-lived Band of Gypsys came at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. The only reason this project came to fruition in the first place was due to a legal settlement between Hendrix and Ed Chalpin of PPX Recordings, whereby the latter would receive total rights to one release by the former. It was a messy situation all around and one that Hendrix wasn’t about to resolve by giving Chalpin the tapes that would make up Electric Ladyland, so instead he enlisted his old Army buddy Billy Cox to play bass and Buddy Miles of Electric Flag to play drums for a special live album project. It’s hard to say that Band of Gypsys was superior to the Experience, but this show isn’t without its merits. “Them Changes” with Miles on lead vocals is funky and fun in a way that Hendrix rarely was while performing live, but it’s the song “Machine Gun” that takes the cake. At a runtime of 12:40, it’s by no means succinct, but with that signature, simulated-gunfire riff and wandering, adventurous solos, it’s one of the most thrilling tracks in Hendrix’s canon.

Live at the Fillmore East is basically an expanded version of the 1970 live album Band of Gypsies, which was recorded on New Year’s Eve 1969 at the legendary New York club. Hendrix’s new trio were bluesier and jazzier than The Experience, so the 16 songs here — including reworked versions of “Stone Free” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” — swing harder. Highlight: was the anti-war jam “Machine Gun.”

With a myriad of debatable quality bootleg live recordings available, it’s fantastic to find a great live recording of Jimi at his fiery best. Live At Fillmore East is one such beast. The double CD is taken from recordings of four nights Jimi and The Band Of Gypsys (completed by bassist Billy Cox and Buddy Miles on drums) played over New Year’s Eve 1970. If anything, this is a better place to hear Jimi with this band than the official Gypsys release that came out during the guitarist’s lifetime. Hendrix’s self-written material comes across the best – lead-off track ‘Stone Free’ is particularly powerful as it clocks in at nearly 13 minutes, but it’s good to hear the guitarist stretching out on the Buddy Miles composition ‘We Gotta Live Together’, while closer ‘Wild Thing’ serves as a reminder that while Jimi liked to improvise and jam in a live environment he was more that capable of wringing the best out of a three minute pop song.

THE L.A. FORUM – APRIL 25th, 1970

There’s something about the sunny confines of the Forum in Inglewood, California, that brought out the best in a myriad of ‘60s and ‘70s rock bands, and Jimi Hendrix was no exception. This was the first live show that Hendrix played after his foray with the Band of Gypsys and the first in seven months with Mitch Mitchell back on the skins. Hendrix sounds completely re-energized and hits the SoCal crowd with a number of heavy-hitting tracks, including one of the first performances of “Ezy Rider” and “Freedom”, which both sound incredible. The cherry of this gig, however, is the sultry and bombastic “Foxy Lady”, which, per usual, was dedicated to one of the finer specimens of the opposite sex that the guitarist spotted in the crowd.

BERKELEY COMMUNITY THEATRE – MAY 30th, 1970

Loose is the operative word when it comes to describing this concert, which took place just outside the confines of the University of California. In the context in which it was performed, it’s actually an interesting contrast to the mania of the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations that were taking place right outside the venue. In his own way, Hendrix addresses the tension permeating the atmosphere in his intro to “The Star-Spangled Banner” when he asks the crowd to get on their feet and stand for the national anthem, reminding them that “we’re all Americans.” For their troubles, he then proceeds to knock them down back on their asses with seismic versions of “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”. For real music nerds, it should be noted that this show was one of the very few instances in his career when Hendrix didn’t tune his guitar down a half step and instead played this entire gig in standard tuning.

This is a tasty recording as it features Jimi Hendrix neither with the Experience nor with his Band Of Gypsys, rather the line-up here was a cross between the two. Gypsy bassist, Billy Cox and Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell backing up Jimi as he tears through blinding versions of ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Hey Joe’. Encapsulating the best of both worlds, Hendrix was able to illustrate the experimental side of the Experience with the more funky, R&B-led style of the Gypsys. The concert captured here is the second show Hendrix and co. performed at the Berkeley Community Center in 1970. As ever, the live rendition of ‘Red House’ is stunning while ‘Voodoo Child’ is a textbook performance – the perfect blend of experimentation kept on a short leash, even though it’s a suitably extended version with a superb vocal track. It’s not all established material that Hendrix offers here – we also get to witness early versions of songs (notably ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)’ and ‘Straight Ahead’ – here in the guise of ‘Pass It On’) that would go on to be featured on other posthumous releases.

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THE ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL – JULY 4th, 1970

Many of Hendrix’s greatest live shows came in outdoor spaces, like this one at the Atlanta Pop Festival on Independence Day in 1970. In many ways, this Georgia gathering was the spiritual sequel to Woodstock that the fiasco in Altamont failed to be. Like Woodstock, it was billed as “three days of peace, love and music,” and you needed a ticket to enter. And just like in upstate New York, the deluge of 300,000-500,000 people crying out slogans like “music belongs to the people” forced the organizers to open the gates and let everyone in completely free of charge.

For his part, Hendrix actually delivered a set that was far more cohesive and tight than he had given the summer before, albeit without any of the iconic highlights. A rare performance of “Room Full of Mirrors” is a real gem from this show as is the extended “Red House” jam.

 

THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, AUGUST 31st, 1970

“Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight” is a posthumous live album by Jimi Hendrix released on November 12th, 2002. The album documents Hendrix’s last U.K. live performance at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31st, 1970, just three weeks before his death. The set list for the concert contained songs from the original Experience albums, as well as new songs. Some were previously available on Isle of Wight (1971) and Live Isle of Wight ’70 (1991).

Included in the set was an adaptation of “God Save the Queen” and a cover of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, played just before launching into “Spanish Castle Magic”. The 22-minute version of “Machine Gun” includes walkie-talkie interference from security personnel feeding through the sound equipment. Apparently there were all sorts of issues with the organisation of the festival, and there were equipment problems, In some ways it’s a bit of a disappointing finale to his career, he’s seems a little tired or to be just going through the motions on much of this, maybe he was just getting tired of the band screaming out for Fire and Wild Thing, but at times the playing is as sublime as ever, and it’s interesting to see how the band with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell continues to expand their style. Billy Cox makes the ensemble work much better than Noel Redding ever did, a fine example being where Hendrix sits out for some time on what is easily the longest of my 20 versions of Foxy Lady. The full set is available on this album “Blue Wild Angel: Live at The Isle of Wight” and I’m not sure why they didn’t release a double album first time around. The single release album is necessarily not even the best selection of songs from the gig so I’d recommend getting Blue Wild Angel instead. This isn’t his finest performance, but they’re all unique, so if you haven’t heard it, and you’re a Hendrixphile, you need to.

The CD set is more complete than the DVD release as it contains “Midnight Lightning”, “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)”, and “Hey Joe”, three songs that were omitted from the DVD. There was also a “highlights” album released as a single disc, which contained eleven songs – nine from disc one and two from disc two. It was re-released in 2003 as a three-disc “Deluxe Sound & Vision Edition” in a special box and slip cover format as part of Experience Hendrix’s plan to re-release most of Jimi Hendrix’s recorded material.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At The Isle Of Fehmarn

LIVE AT THE ISE OF FEHMARN September 6th 1970

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At The Isle Of Fehmarn marks the eighth release in Dagger Records’ popular bootleg-style recording series. This historically significant album features The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s final live performance on September 6th, 1970 during the Love & Peace Festival held on the Isle Of Fehmarn in Germany.

Originally slated to perform on September 5th, The Experience’s appearance at the festival was delayed by frequent rain storms that plagued the previous days shows. Having just completed a series of six concerts in six days including headlining shows at both the Isle Of Wight (August 30th) and Berlin (September 4th), the extra day of rest would serve the group well.

By the time The Experience took to the stage on September 6th, audience tensions were guarded following a series of fights between German bikers, that had escalated in ferocity, and included the festival Box Office being robbed at gun point and Jimi Hendrix’s own road manager, Gerry Stickells being attacked. Depsite these problems, The Experience delivered an enthusiastic hour-plus performance which saw Jimi lead the trio through a series of songs encompassing all of the different periods of the group’s existence.

Jimi’s Isle Of Fehmarn performance has been widely bootlegged over the last 35 years yet it was never professionally recorded. Amateur recordings made from the audience by fans have served as the only known documentation of this historic concert until now. As the eighth entry in this popular ‘bootleg’ series, Dagger presents a newly discovered recording made by the festival’s promoters. Unbeknownst to Hendrix, the promoters captured the group’s entire performance by feeding two overhead stage microphones into a consumer grade Revox reel-to-reel tape machine located off to the side of the stage. The resulting document, rough hewn and unmixed, is clear and not unlike the amateur
audience recording featured on the initial Dagger offering Live At The Oakland Coliseum.

In addition to “Killing Floor,” Live At The Isle Of Fehmarn also features “Spanish Castle Magic,” “All Along The Watchtower,” “Hey Joe,” “Message To Love,” “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun),” “Foxey Lady,” “Red House,” “Ezy Ryder,” “Freedom,” “Room Full Of Mirrors,” “Purple Haze,” and a particularly memorable rendition of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”

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First, there was Band of Gypsies. Just a few years ago, there was Machine Gun. And, in between times, sundry compilations, bootlegs and all manner of other sources drip fed other moments from four momentous shows onto the collectors’ market.  Now, all four have been gathered together, and the result is one of the most spectacular Jimi Hendrix collections yet.

Band of Gypsies was Hendrix’s union with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox, a shortlived union that effectively debuted and departed in the space of 48 hours, New Year’s Eve 1969 and New Year’s Day, 1970. Two shows per day at the Fillmore East marked the band’s brief life, and for a long time, the soundtrack – the original Band of Gypsies album alone – was regarded by some as one of those take-it-or-leave-it Hendrix albums, released out of sequence out of contractual obligation, and effectively filled with overlong jamming through songs we’d never heard.

The passage of time, of course, dismissed that opinion, and Machine Gun, which served up the first of the four shows, placed at least some of the music into the context of a show… a great show, which danced back and forth between Jimi’s past and future, and ranks today among the most exhilarating single disc Hendrix live albums of them all.  And now that it has been expanded to five discs, it’s even better.

You can play favorites with the different shows according to their repertoire. On the first night, new material predominated, with only “Lover Man” and “Hear My Train A-Coming” coming through to satisfy the oldies fans. But a few more crept in on the second set; there was the glorious blast of “Stepping Stone” and “Foxey Lady” amidships in the third; and the final show was greatest hits a-go-go, as the evening ended with a colossal “Voodoo Chile,” a brutal “Wild Thing,” a leviathan “Purple Haze” and even “Hey Joe,” the song that started it all for Hendrix, but which he’d never seemed to have that much time for.

The sound is excellent throughout; the booklet well-presented and written. The box won’t take up much room on the shelf, and the whole thing, frankly, is a joy from beginning to end. The Band of Gypsies travel on.

Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, are proud to release Songs For Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts by Jimi Hendrix, on CD and digital November 22nd, with a vinyl release to follow on December 13th. This collection assembles all four historic debut concerts by the legendary guitarist in their original performance sequence. The 5 CD or 8 vinyl set boasts over two dozen tracks that have either never before been released commercially or have been newly pressed and newly remixed. Those who pre-order the digital version will instantly receive the previously unreleased track “Message To Love,” from the second New Year’s Eve performance on the collection.

Over the course of four extraordinary years, Jimi Hendrix placed his indelible stamp upon popular music with breathtaking velocity.  Measured alongside his triumphs at Monterey Pop and Woodstock, Hendrix’s legendary Fillmore East concerts illustrated a critical turning point in a radiant career filled with indefinite possibilities.

The revolutionary impact Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles had upon the boundaries and definitions of rock, R&B, and funk can be traced to four concerts over the course of two captivating evenings.  These performances were first celebrated by Band of Gypsys, which featured six songs from the two January 1st, 1970 concerts, including “Machine Gun,” the album’s dramatic centerpiece. Issued in April 1970, Band of Gypsys challenged and surprised the wide following of Jimi Hendrix  with its extended arrangements and vibrant mix of rock and soul. 

In June of 1969, at the height of their fame, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, closed a musical chapter.  Before the shockwaves could settle, Hendrix assembled a new, expanded ensemble to perform at Woodstock in August. A new chapter was opened as Hendrix introduced Gypsy Sun and Rainbows.  The large ensemble included Jimi’s longtime friend Billy Cox, on bass, whom he had befriended when both were serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in 1962.  This Woodstock lineup was short-lived; from its ashes a new trio emerged in October that Hendrix dubbed Band of Gypsys, consisting of Hendrix, Cox and Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles, who would also contribute occasional lead vocals. Hendrix was inspired by his collaboration with Cox and Miles and this creative renewal drove the development of promising new material such as “Power Of Soul,” “Burning Desire” and the extraordinary “Machine Gun.”  

Their debut live performances were a series of four concerts at the Fillmore East in Manhattan – two on New Year’s Eve 1969 and two on New Year’s Day 1970, each of which were professionally recorded. Hendrix had sold out Madison Square Garden just nine months prior, but the Fillmore East was chosen as the setting for a live recording.  Long before his fame, Hendrix had signed what he thought was a release for appearing as a studio musician in October 1965.  Unfortunately, the one page artist agreement drafted by PPX Industries bound his services for a period of three years.  Unwilling to live hands tied, Hendrix agreed to a 1968 legal settlement whereby Capitol Records would be granted the distribution rights for his next album.  By the autumn of 1969, Capitol and PPX were pushing hard for the album delivery and Hendrix decided to give them a live album.

However stressful this legal obligation had been for the guitarist, the end result proved to be an artistic triumph. True to his unpredictability, Hendrix opened his four-show stint with a masterful, eleven song set that did not feature a single song he had commercially released.  Exciting new songs such as “Izabella,” “Ezy Ryder” and “Burning Desire” thrilled the sold-out house.  Hendrix would pepper the remaining three shows with supercharged reworkings of favorites such as “Stone Free,” “Purple Haze,” and “Fire” but these were presented alongside such devastating, newly developed fare as “Machine Gun.”  In his review of the second New Year’s Eve concert, Down Beat critic Chris Albertson wrote, “That ability of his to utilize fully the technical possibilities of his instrument, combined with his fertile musical imagination, makes him an outstanding performer.”

By the end of January 1970, the band was history, but the blend of funk, rock and soul pioneered by the trio became history, making a profound impact on popular music in its wake. Notable devotees include funk pioneers ParliamentFunkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, the Isley Brothers (with whom Hendrix himself had at one time played) and Bootsy Collins, extending all the way forward to hip-hop.  Countless artists cite the record as a cornerstone in their appreciation of Jimi Hendrix ’s remarkable abilities.  

The original 1970 Band of Gypsys album was edited and sequenced from songs performed during the two Fillmore sets on January 1st, 1970.   Subsequent collections mined more material from each of the performances with significant chunks of these phenomenal recordings from those nights sitting unreleased for almost half a century. Newly mixed and restored in sequence without edits, fans can finally hear Hendrix, Cox and Miles blast through their genre-defying sets that included freshly written songs like “Earth Blues” and “Stepping Stone,” as well as Experience favorites inclusive of “Foxey Lady,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Wild Thing,” “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze.” Additionally, exciting new versions of Howard Tate’s “Stop,” “Steal Away,” by Jimmy Hughes and a searing “Bleeding Heart” by Elmore James highlighted the command that the trio had over blues & R&B music.

The lavish package is filled with unseen photos from talent such as Fillmore East house photographer Amalie Rothschild, Jan Blom (whose iconic, color saturated images provided the original artwork for 1970’s Band of Gypsys) as well as Marshall Amplifier representative Marc Franklin, who had full access to the group in their dressing room backstage.  The booklet features remembrances from bassist Billy Cox and liner notes by author/journalist/filmmaker Nelson George.  Songs For Groovy Children was produced by Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer and John McDermott – the trio that has overseen every project for Experience Hendrix since 1995. The box set was mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bernie Grundman.

Kicking off today at the Paramount Theatre in Jimi’s hometown of Seattle, WA is the fall leg of the Experience Hendrix Tour, the acclaimed multi-artist celebration of Jimi Hendrix’s musical genius. The trek winds its way down the west coast into Oregon, California, Nevada, and then heading eastward into Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, culminating in San Antonio Oct. 22.  Participants include blues legend Buddy Guy, best-selling instrumental rock guitarist Joe Satriani,Taj Mahal, Dweezil Zappa, Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson and Billy Cox. His has, arguably, the longest lasting musical relationship with Jimi Hendrix, spanning their time in the U.S. Army, performance in Nashville-based soul combos and with Band of Gypsys, and continuing with the Tribute Concert Tours in honor of the legacy of Jimi Hendrix to the present day.

The looming dissolution of the Beatles, after a stirring run of creative genius, signaled that everything would be different in the ’70s. They released their final album in Abbey Road, though the earlier-recorded Let It Be would follow, after some post-session doctoring from Phil Spector. They weren’t the only ones who departed: The original Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon and the Animals and the Jeff Beck Group fell apart, even as Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones died. The warm feelings of Woodstock were quickly forgotten in the bloody aftermath of Altamont.

The death of Brian Jones, July 3rd , Brian Jones had long since relinquished his role as a major contributor to the band he founded, the Rolling Stones, when he drowned in his swimming pool at his home in Cotchford Farm, the estate formerly owned by A.A. Milnes, author of the ever popular children’s book, Winnie the Pooh. He had been fired by the Stones the month before due to drug use and increasingly erratic behavior, leaving Jones more or less out in the cold as far as any further recording ventures were concerned. Initially ruled “death by misadventure,” the verdict was later questioned when rumors spread that a construction worker named Frank Thorogood actually murdered Jones and had made a deathbed confession to a confidante. In 2008, the Sussex police department declared it was no longer investigating the claim. Nevertheless, Jones became the first member of the so-called 27 club, whose membership now includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Whitehouse and a number of other artists whose lives ended at the fateful age of 27. His death also ended a prolific and profound era for the Stones, which many still argue, was the most creative period of their collective career.

At the same time, bands appeared that would dominate the decade to come. Led Zeppelin released their acclaimed first and second albums in ’69, laying a sturdy foundation for superstardom. Zeppelin seemed to arrive as a fully formed new blues-rock variant, harder and louder than anything that had come before. In fact, after touring together extensively, the band arrived in the studio with this material so well rehearsed that they only needed 36 hours spread out over two weeks to complete the album. Its influence, however, has endured – not just as a template for their own career, but also for untold legions of soon-to-be-famous heavy-metal purveyors.

In the summer of 1969, Zeppelin was a band on the rise. Its self-titled first album, released in January of that year, reached Number 10 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., and peaked at Number 6 in the U.K. The band’s pairing of blues, folk and psychedelia eventually would make it the biggest band of the 1970s, “as influential in that decade as The Beatles were in the previous one,”  Zeppelin would play more than 40 gigs on their Summer of 69 tour of U.S.A.

Chicago issued the first of what will eventually be four straight multi-album projects, A band with a bright horn section and a scalding guitarist, Chicago was really all about dichotomy back then. Four songs from their introductory double album would enter the charts, through to 1972’s Chicago V. 

Mick Taylor joined The Stones, sparking their most heralded period – though one that was marked by a turn toward darker subject matter. Rolling Stones, ‘Let It Bleed’ was aptly titled, the second in a quartet of genius albums by the Stones echoed all of the very real apprehensions surrounding this era – like a gritty yin to the Beatles’ utopian yang on ‘Abbey Road.’ Mick Taylor’s arrival also ushered in a harder-edged sound, which combined to create one of rock’s most visceral triumphs. It’s sexy, foreboding, topical and dangerous, sometimes all at once.

Altamont – December 6th was one of the darkest days in music history, Altamont sealed the lid on the promise of peace and love that was capped by Woodstock, and did so within mere months following that celebratory event itself. The Stones, who headlined the sprawling festival in the California desert, may have had good intentions to offer a free concert, but enlisting the Hell’s Angels as security was a terrible idea. Though the line-up was stellar—CSNY, Santana and Jefferson Airplane reprised their roles from Woodstock, along with the Flying Burrito Brothers providing an excellent add-on—an aura of violence and uncertainty pervaded the proceedings. Both Jagger and Airplane singer Marty Balin were accosted the former as he left his chopper, the latter onstage and the death of concert goer Meredith Hunter by a pack of Angels who claimed they saw him wielding a gun, ensured the fact that an idyllic utopian era of the ’60s was quickly come to an end.

‘Abbey Road’ was always a far more fitting send off for the Beatles than ‘Let It Be’ could have ever been. It’s among Paul McCartney’s brightest, most artistically satisfying, moments. But John Lennon’s punctuations (and, to a quickly emerging degree, George Harrison’s) undoubtably make it so. Moments away from imploding, they arrived for these sessions as distinct individuals, rather than stylized mop-topped group. Yet, for a moment in time and for this one last time, the Beatles’ separate personalities seemed to work again in service of the whole.

The Beatles Final Concert, January 30th, Although the Beatles’ impromptu performance on the rooftop of their Apple headquarters in London’s central environs was rumored to be a tryout for a return to live concerts, it was in fact part of the band’s final hurrah. The tumultuous sessions for their album Let It Be exposed a group in disarray, and indeed, a mere nine months after this live six song set—all culled from tracks they had been working on at the time The Beatles were officially broken. Filmed to provide a cap on the ill-fated Let It Be film, it’s still an exhilarating experience to watch the four former Fabs giving it a final go for the curious crowds below. “Hope we passed the audition,” John says before vacating the premises on orders from the police. Yes, Mr. Lennon, indeed you did.

Nick Drake, ‘Five Leaves Left’ was an autumnal yearning which surrounds these folk-rock recordings, and that’s likely the reason Drake was overlooked in his time. Even smart assists from Richard Thompson, then of Fairport Convention fame, couldn’t push this delicately conveyed album into the public consciousness back then. Sadly, Drake only had five years left. He died at age 26 in 1974 of an overdose.

This daring debut by prog rock band King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ still remains prog’s standard bearer, the best example of a then-emerging movement that sought to combine musical concepts with rock. ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ was also a template for how this seemingly ever-evolving band would operate, as their lineup almost immediately flew apart. The core pair of Robert Fripp and Greg Lake was all that remained by the time King Crimson set about recording a follow-up.

The Kinks ‘Arthur,’ a triumph of rock with a British sensibility subtitled “Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire,” never gets the short-hand praise of contemporary works like the Who’s ‘Tommy.’ That’s likely because it’s less ambitious. But it’s also far more listenable – like a rock musical, rather than a rock opera. Hailed as one of rock’s first great concept albums, ‘Tommy’ – like so many examples in that genre – sometimes suffers creatively at the expense of furthering the plot. But at its best, this represents the Who at their finest. And there’s no questioning how the album opened up new narrative possibilities for pop composers.

The Who Performed Tommy for the First Time, April 22nd Notably, the concert in Devon, England, preceded the album’s official release by a month. Although other offerings can claim to be the first real rock operas—The Pretty Things’ S.F, Sorrow and the Kinks’ Arthur, among them—The Who were the only band to take the unusual step of performing an album in its entirety. They’d later take Tommy to some of the world’s great opera houses, elevating rock in both intellect and intent.

The debut of supergroup Blind Faith, June 7th, Heralded as the first true “super group”—a term that would resurface continuously in the years that followed Blind Faith was based on an all-star union between guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker of Cream and vocalist/keyboard player Steve Winwood of Traffic, with bassist Ric Grech, formerly of Family, added later on. Although Clapton in particular was wary of the implications involved in such a high profile ensemble and equally concerned about inviting the tempestuous Baker into the fold—he agreed to pursue the possibilities, owing in small part to the fact that he and Winwood had worked together in a short-lived ad hoc outfit called Powerhouse a few years before. The group’s less than spectacular live debut at Hyde Park further exacerbated Clapton’s concerns, and after a single spotty album and tours of Scandinavia and the U.S., the group disbanded later that year.

Dylan Reemerges at the Isle of Wight, August 31st, Dylan had been largely absent from public view since a 1966 motorcycle accident drove him into self-imposed seclusion. Other than his work with the Band at Big Pink, he chose to spend time with his family and record an album, Nashville Skyline, a shocking departure from any album he had offered before. Consequently, the announcement of his appearance at England’s Isle of Wight Festival attracted an extraordinary amount of interest, including the curiosity of various Beatles, a Stone, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and a still gestating Elton John. Rumor had it that Lennon, Harrison and Starr might join Dylan onstage, and although that proved false, Dylan alone was enough to mesmerize the masses. Dressed in a beige suit, his hair cut short, he performed a 17-song set with backing from the Band, a concert that included several classics from his catalog as well as tracks from Nashville Skyline and its immediate predecessor, John Wesley Harding. It’s still considered a landmark performance today.

That was probably to be expected for a generation still reeling from shocking assassinations and an ever-escalating war. So, too, was a move toward nostalgia for the old ways. Bob Dylan Having hinted at his intentions on the more rustic ‘John Wesley Harding,’ Dylan definitively left behind protest music for a head-long dive into deep country for the charming, determinedly happy ‘Nashville Skyline.’ In its own way, this was revolutionary too as he went country, even as his old backing musicians in The Band released a determinedly homespun self-titled masterpiece. The Byrds also splintered, with two members Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman left to dive deeper into their passion for country and western music. The resulting album, unfortunately, did little on the charts – but it proved to be a well-spring of inspiration for descendent bands like the Eagles. breaking away to form the Americana-focused Flying Burrito Brothers.

Although there had been several gingerly moves to find common ground between the disparate realms of country music and rock ’n’ roll early rock pioneers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Rick Nelson all had claims on country—in the divided America of the late ’60s, followers of the two styles were decidedly distinct. Nevertheless, the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield effectively made efforts to narrow that divide, making it only natural that the two groups they spawned, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco respectively, would, to paraphrase the title of the latter’s debut album, pick up the pieces. As a result of releases like The Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, in February 1969, country-rock blossomed, spearheaded by the influence of “cosmic cowboy” Gram Parsons (a member of both the Byrds and the Burritos) before later finding a permanent bond with the release of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, featuring members of both the new guard and the old, two years later.

The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’ This album’s wiry, first-take feel was no put on: Three songs from the Stooges‘ titanic debut were written in a single day, after their label said the album needed more material, then banged them out live. The ferocious results gave the nascent heavy metal genre new fire, presupposed far-off punk, and scared the hell out of parents everywhere.

Creedence Clearwater Revival began to come into their own here, reaching heralded high points with “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” The rest of ‘Bayou Country’ doesn’t always reach that level, but the album is nevertheless surrounded by a sense of expectancy. They’re discovering themselves with every revolution of this album, and it’s a fizzy joy to hear. The second of an incredible run of three CCR albums from 1969 codifies every great thing the earlier ‘Bayou Country’ pointed toward. Sharply drawn, ‘Green River’ is just as sharply played – with none of the period-piece noodling that had occasionally seeped into their first two albums. John Fogerty dilated his muse on ageless cuts like “Bad Moon Rising,” the title track and “Lodi,” and Creedence finally found its true voice.

The Allman Brothers Band an accomplished debut as they blended rock, blues, jazz and a distinctly Southern sensibility to came up with something uniquely and forever their own. Taken for granted in today’s multi-cultural melting pot, ‘Santana’ marked the big bang of Latin rock. Within a year, congas and timbales had found their way into the music of the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, among many others. But it all started here, as ‘Santana’ blended mind-blowing, genre-bending musical explorations with more compact songs like the rambunctious Top 10 hit ‘Evil Ways’.

Jimi Hendrix forms the Band of Gypsies, October and with the release of Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his prowess, but the break-up of the Experience left him without a band and bereft of new recordings. His band at Woodstock, ostensively dubbed “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows,” found him expanding his original trio concept and reuniting with his former army buddy, Billy Cox. The aggregate, which Hendrix referred to as “a band of gypsies” when interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show, fell apart soon after, although Cox continued on bass and joined Hendrix for some informal recording dates with Buddy Miles. It was a natural combination; Miles had subbed for Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell on two tracks used for Electric Ladyland, and the trio went on to record a few demos and rehearse for an upcoming concert at the Fillmore East that would span New Year’s Eve. The self-titled album, released on Capitol Records to satisfy a contractual obligation, became the band’s only official recording, but clearly pointed the way to a more racially charged sound Hendrix was working on for the future.

Woodstock, August 15th-18th, If ever there was a single gathering that served to define the spirit of the ’60s, those three days spent in the muddy fields of Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York takes the prize. It wasn’t always pleasant—despite an amazing array of rock’s most influential artists (Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, CSNY, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens, et. al.), the traffic, the mud and the scarcity of supplies (other than the acid of course) tended to test the resolve of all involved. Still, it was that spirit of love, peace and music that pervaded the proceedings over all, assuring a communal embrace while setting the precedent for festival gatherings, a basic blueprint that remains relevant to this day.

Jefferson Airplane, ‘Volunteers’ was the last album to feature both Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden, ‘Volunteers’ blended a few bucolic moments (featuring guest stars Jerry Garcia and members of CSNY) in with the now-expected psychedelic rock – but that’s not this album’s best-remembered legacy. Instead, it’s a series of molten, occasionally profanity-laced rebukes of the American status quo. They left the ’60s with a bang.

Joining together for the first of what would become a string of free-wheeling, muscular successes alongside his band Crazy Horse, Neil Young blows a hole in the comfy folk-rock conventions of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ in fact, has a lot more in common with the wild eclecticism of his work with Buffalo Springfield, but with a new tone that’s both sharper and looser.

Records in  heavy rotation in my bedroom included the debut album from Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, The Beatles Abbey Road , The Who’s Tommy, King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King a great record,one that for its time was truly unique, The Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet which never left my turntable and the follow-up release Let It Bleed, Neil Young’s masterpiece Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Zappa’s Hot Rats which help change my musical perspective, Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On, CSN debut, Blind Faith’s one and only official release which is also a very strange record, Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan, The MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul which arrived unexpectedly when I did not respond in time to a record company selection deadline and glad I got this gem,Chicago Transit Authority double set before they shortened their name to Chicago,  Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, Live Dead, The Doors Soft Parade, Pink Floyd’s Live Ummagumma, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers, and Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog.

Few events in American history caused as much upheaval as the war in Vietnam. Young people took to streets and college campuses, protesting a conflict that they viewed as little more than an excuse for a murder machine entangling thousands of young draftees. Not surprisingly, musicians supplied the soundtrack against which protest was pursued. With the sound and imagery flashing across television screens night after night, it was only natural that people would find respite in an array of anthems—“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Street Fighting Man from the Rolling Stones,” “For What It’s Worth (written about the riots on Sunset Strip) by Buffalo Springfield, “Machine Gun” from Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish’s “Vietnam Song” and “Volunteers” which came courtesy of Jefferson Airplane. All served to remind the youth of the country that they weren’t alone in their determination to sway some sentiment and avoid the bloodshed overseas.

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Originally included as part of the 1990 Lifelines box set, an intriguing if ultimately frustrating collection of interviews and previously unreleased live/studio recordings first broadcast on radio in 1989 (many tracks either fade out too quickly or are marred by voice overs), The L.A. Forum Concert remains the most complete, official release yet of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance on 26th April, 1969 to date.

The show was professionally recorded by Wally Heider, and put aside for a potential live album Jimi’s manager Mike Jeffrey was considering. Despite some early mixes prepared by Eddie Kramer, the project was abandoned and the tapes shelved for future posterity.

In the ensuing months, Jimi’s music continued to rapidly evolve, meaning that any possibility of a definitive live document appeared increasingly unlikely. However if some of what was recorded that night had of found its way into the hands of Jimi’s millions of fans, one wonders what they might have thought, considering that Hendrix was no longer interested in replicating his usual stage act, one made famous thanks to his blistering set at The Monterey Pop Festival some two years earlier.

Hendrix was maturing, and his show, as superbly captured here, is testament to his growth as a musician and composer. After a brief introduction, Hendrix, Noel Redding (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums), kick things off with a heavily extended (and largely improvised) rendition of Hansson & Carlsson’s “Tax Free,” something which few in the audience would have expected .

Unlike the studio version first heard on 1972’s War Heroes LP, here Hendrix goes on to explore just about every psychedelic nook and cranny he can find, going for bust in the process. Remember, Woodstock was but a mere four months away, and while Hendrix had improvised on stage before, “Tax Free” clearly offered him the opportunity to stretch out with the kind of instrumental freedom he was no doubt already striving for.

“Red House” is another exploratory performance, and one which has oft been described as one of his best. Here he takes what is essentially a 12 bar blues, and transforms it into an exciting, instrumental extravaganza. At this point Hendrix had already been jamming with the likes of John McLaughlin and Dave Holland, two musicians who would play an important role in the proto-jazz-fusion movement that was about to occur later that same year, so it should therefore come as no surprise that Hendrix was keen on pushing a few boundaries of his own.

A powerful, Flamenco-inspired “Spanish Castle Magic” hints at some of the improvised majesty Jimi would later display at the Woodstock Festival in August, while “Star Spangled Banner” and “Purple Haze” manage to whip the audience into a frenzy (based on the response of the crowd as preserved on the original multi-track tapes). In spite of all the tension between himself and Redding (the bassist would quit the group at the end of their American tour in June), the band were still capable of putting on an impressive show.

“I Don’t Live Today” is given a muscular workout, followed by a raucous “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (Hendrix included a version of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” in between just for good measure), played while the crowd attempted to storm the front of the stage, forcing police to form a barricade between the musicians and audience members.

Live At The L.A. Forum, like many similar releases, provides the modern day listener with a unique opportunity to at least hear, and hopefully get close to some idea as to the reasons why Hendrix was so important to so many people. In the late ‘60s, a rock concert was more than just about the music; it was an event, and an important one at that.

thanks moonunderwater

Jimi Hendrix released only three studio albums and one live LP before he died on September. 18th, 1970, at the age of 27. His legacy is built on that classic trio of records, but it’s grown over the past four decades thanks to dozens of album releases that have been released since his death.

Jimi Hendrix was despite being so enigmatic and galvanizing in front of a live audience, he actually hated being out on the road. In his defense, “the road” in the 1960s was an unforgiving and punishing place to be, especially when plotted out in advance by Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery. One night he and his band, The Experience, would be playing a gym in Santa Barbara, California, and the next night they’d find themselves in an arena in Seattle, Washington. Patently brutal. Then there was the added anxiety of being far away from the recording studio — the place where he felt most at home. To Hendrix, touring was more stress than it was worth. It was just something he had to do to keep the black lights at Electric Lady Studios on.

Jimi Hendrix was only on the scene for about four years of his life, but he absolutely made the most of that time. Amid a vast number of classic, immortal live recordings, he toured incessantly and performed an incredible number of live shows that still have the ability to shock and surprise nearly 50 years on. From the Fillmore East to the Fillmore West, from Woodstock and Monterey to Paris, and London, and everywhere else that he and whatever group was backing him went, the possibility that real magic might present itself .

THE OLYMPIA THEATRE  Paris– OCTOBER 18th, 1966

Some concerts on this list are bound to get a little more shine due to their historic nature, like this gig at the Olympia Theatre in Paris from 1966. This was the first time that The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, played together as a group in front of a paying audience — opening for the “French Elvis Presley”, Johnny Hallyday, no less. I suppose we could have put Hendrix’s last known gig at the Isle of Fehmarn on September 6, 1970, or maybe his performance at the Isle of Wight a few weeks earlier, but both of those are kind of shambolic and more than a little morbid. Even though this show was only 15 minutes long, you get a real sense of the kind of fire Hendrix was playing with around the time he first hit the scene. The band’s first single, “Hey Joe”, sounds great, but it’s the Howlin’ Wolf cover “Killing Floor” that will leave your jaw on the floor. (The above video shows Hendrix at the venue one year later.

THE CAFÉ AU GO-GO – MARCH 17th, 1968

One of the great things about going to a live show is the feeling that anything can happen. The patrons of the small Café Au Go-Go Club in New York City couldn’t have known when they ordered their drinks that they were about to witness one of the great, public rock and roll jam sessions of all time that spring night. To be sure, Hendrix was known to play around town while in New York City, but this gig with Elvin Bishop on rhythm guitar, Paul Butterfield on harmonica and vocals, and Buddy Miles on the drums is some next-level stuff. It’s clear from the recording that the guys were just interested in messing around, but there are some real spine-tingling moments to be gleaned here like the pickup group’s all-instrumental rendition of “Little Wing” or the cover of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday.”

THE ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL – JULY 4th, 1970

Many of Hendrix’s greatest live shows came in outdoor spaces, like this one at the Atlanta Pop Festival on Independence Day in 1970. In many ways, this Georgia gathering was the spiritual sequel to Woodstock that the fiasco in Altamont failed to be. Like Woodstock, it was billed as “three days of peace, love and music,” and you needed a ticket to enter. And just like in upstate New York, the deluge of 300,000-500,000 people crying out slogans like “music belongs to the people” forced the organizers to open the gates and let everyone in completely free of charge. For his part, Hendrix actually delivered a set that was far more cohesive and tight than he had given the summer before, albeit without any of the iconic highlights. A rare performance of “Room Full of Mirrors” is a real gem from this show as is the extended “Red House” jam.

BERKELEY COMMUNITY THEATRE – MAY 30th, 1970

Loose is the operative word when it comes to describing this concert, which took place just outside the confines of the University of California. In the context in which it was performed, it’s actually an interesting contrast to the mania of the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations that were taking place right outside the venue. In his own way, Hendrix addresses the tension permeating the atmosphere in his intro to “The Star-Spangled Banner” when he asks the crowd to get on their feet and stand for the national anthem, reminding them that “we’re all Americans.” For their troubles, he then proceeds to knock them down back on their asses with seismic versions of “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”. For real music nerds, it should be noted that this show was one of the very few instances in his career when Hendrix didn’t tune his guitar down a half step and instead played this entire gig in standard tuning.

THE FILLMORE EAST – JANUARY 1st, 1970

The one and only performance of the short-lived Band of Gypsys came at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. The only reason this project came to fruition in the first place was due to a legal settlement between Hendrix and Ed Chalpin of PPX Recordings, whereby the latter would receive total rights to one release by the former. It was a messy situation all around and one that Hendrix wasn’t about to resolve by giving Chalpin the tapes that would make up Electric Ladyland, so instead he enlisted his old Army buddy Billy Cox to play bass and Buddy Miles of Electric Flag to play drums for a special live album project. It’s hard to say that Band of Gypsys was superior to the Experience, but this show isn’t without its merits. “Them Changes” with Miles on lead vocals is funky and fun in a way that Hendrix rarely was while performing live, but it’s the song “Machine Gun” that takes the cake. At a runtime of 12:40, it’s by no means succinct, but with that signature, simulated-gunfire riff and wandering, adventurous solos, it’s one of the most thrilling tracks in Hendrix’s canon.

THE L.A. FORUM – APRIL 25th, 1970

There’s something about the sunny confines of the Forum in Inglewood, California, that brought out the best in a myriad of ‘60s and ‘70s rock bands, and Hendrix was no exception. This was the first live show that Hendrix played after his foray with the Band of Gypsys and the first in seven months with Mitch Mitchell back on the skins. Hendrix sounds completely re-energized and hits the SoCal crowd with a number of heavy-hitting tracks, including one of the first performances of “Ezy Rider” and “Freedom”, which both sound incredible. The cherry of this gig, however, is the sultry and bombastic “Foxey Lady”, which, per usual, was dedicated to one of the finer specimens of the opposite sex that the guitarist spotted in the crowd.

WOODSTOCK – AUGUST 18th, 1969

You probably assumed that this show would top this list or maybe place second, but one transcendent moment does not a complete concert make. Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock will forever stand as one of the defining moments of the ‘60s, but the rest of the show around that singular – and notably solo – rendition of the American national anthem is somewhat shambolic. For this gig, Hendrix brought together his regular drummer, Mitch Mitchell, and his Army buddy and Band of Gypsys bassist, Buddy Cox, but also an overstuffed array of world musicians who clearly weren’t ready to tackle this material. That this was also the longest performance of Hendrix’s career actually doesn’t help its case as one might assume either. It’s not a complete disaster, however, as both “Woodstock Improvisation” and “Hey Joe” are undeniably fantastic.

THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL – FEBRUARY 24th, 1969

It was one of Hendrix manager Michael Jeffrey’s more canny moves that this gig was even booked in the first place. Originally, he and the Experience were only supposed to perform at the Royal Albert Hall for one night on February 18th, which was due to be recorded for a potential live album, but Jeffrey was worried that the band wouldn’t make the grade. His concern proved correct as both Redding and Mitchell sounded utterly lethargic at that show. The band only had one more shot to make up for their lackluster performance, thus this gig a week later where they absolutely killed. Hendrix clearly knew that he and the band were on fire and actually went back on at the end of the night for a positively rare encore of the exceedingly rarely played “Room Full of Mirrors”. This ended up being the last show that the Experience would ever play together in Europe.

THE MONTEREY POP FESTIVAL – JUNE 18th, 1967

When Jimi Hendrix left New York City for the UK in 1966, hardly anyone in his home country even noticed. When he came back on June 18, 1967, for the Monterey Pop Festival in northern California, they could hardly tear their eyes away. As opposed to Woodstock where one song transcended the rest of the Hendrix’s set, at Monterey, the guitarist’s violent, sexually charged rendition of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” was a culmination. Seemingly intent on topping The Who’s explosive performance of “My Generation” that preceded him, when it came to ending his own showing, Hendrix pulled out all the stops. Even watching now, the display of him grinding his custom-painted Stratocaster against the stack of Marshall amps before throwing it down to the ground and riding it like a familiar love is shocking to behold. Then comes the lighter fluid; and then the match and then the flames. At Monterey, Hendrix threw down the gauntlet to his generation of fellow artists: Either become daring, or remain irrelevant.

THE WINTERLAND BALLROOM – OCTOBER 11th, 1968

Burning guitars and rockets red-glaring aside, this show, the second in a run of three dates in San Francisco, was the absolute peak of Jimi Hendrix’s live performance career. Throughout its history, the Winterland Ballroom was a venue that brought the best out of those who performed there, whether it was Led Zeppelin in 1969, The Band in 1976, or Bruce Springsteen and the Sex Pistols in 1978. Hendrix, already one of the best live acts on the scene at the time, with a tremendously loyal and dedicated following in the Bay Area, brought his pure A-game to the Bill Graham-promoted concert hall.

It’s actually a pretty tall order to pick from which of the three nights from the 10th through the 12th was the best of the bunch. On the first evening, you have a tremendous, electrified version of “Hear My Train a Comin’” to go along with a twisted, psychedelic rendition of “Tax Free”. On the last night, there’s that great cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and an explosive “Spanish Castle Magic”. But then you have the second night, and Hendrix gives you perhaps the best version of “Purple Haze” that he ever performed live to go along with a mind-blowing cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. You can’t go wrong with any of these gigs to be perfectly honest, and taken together, they really are the iconic guitarist at the very top of his game.