Jimi Hendrix – Live at Woodstock Review

Jimi Hendrix - Live at Woodstock ReviewWhen it comes to Jimi Hendrix, his live performances are almost as memorable as, if not more than, his studio recordings. His Woodstock performance certainly falls under that category, and there are several reasons for that. Among those reasons is surely his legendary performance of “Star Spangled Banner”.

Not only was his rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” unconventional, it was a matter of controversy. People wondered if it should it be interpreted in such an aggressive fashion. That’s part of what made it so memorable.

Another reason people remember this performance is because it was delayed. Jimi Hendrix and his band of gypsies didn’t appear on the day they were supposed to perform. There are many reasons suggested as the cause, including the weather, but the reality of the situation is that there was probably some miscommunication between several different parties.

Regardless, the band went on to perform for tens of thousands of people. Since they were the last band to perform a the Woodstock festival, there were in fact many attendees who had already left, feeling weary and trying to beat traffic on their way home.

Part of what creates such a legendary performance is the audience. There is a great deal of myth surrounding this particular event, and let’s not forget that Jimi Hendrix is like the very definition of legend, with his unparalleled guitar skills and unfortunate untimely death.

Regardless of all the speculation and hype, immortalized on these two discs is Jimi’s lauded Live at Woodstock performance. The reality of the situation is that Jimi’s band was vastly under-prepared (perhaps with the exception of the rhythm section; Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox), and we find Jimi apologizing at various points throughout the concert for their errors. Present here were two additional percussionists and a second guitarist who all show promise, but couldn’t quite cut it in Jimi’s estimation.

What we have here is basically a giant jam session, with many songs lasting well over four minutes. Certainly, Jimi rarely performed a particular song the same way twice, but the songs didn’t always go on for as long as they did at Woodstock. It’s amazing how calmly Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox were able to follow Jimi’s improvisational approach.

In a sense, though, this two-disc set leaves a little something to be desired, because there is no accompanying visual. Something is lost in translation when you can’t see what’s going on. The auditory experience isn’t enough to convey the full extent of this performance, so I would recommend the DVD over the disc set. Still, it’s fun to listen to these ever-improvisational and extended versions of popular Hendrix songs.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set Review

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box SetThe Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set is a four-disc compilation featuring a total of 46 tracks. This collection includes alternate takes of popular and well-known Hendrix tracks, live performances, and some other oddities and rarities. To say that it includes never-before-heard material would be a little misleading.

One of the cool things about this box set is the packaging. Fittingly, they used purple velvet on the outer cover, giving it a luxurious esthetic. In addition to the four CDs, they also included a 79-page booklet, which features an introductory essay on Jimi’s short but impactful career, and production details on each track (apparently later releases also included a 30-minute DVD, which sadly, I did not get). It’s clear that they did take the time to make this an appealing product on a visual and tactile level.

Would I call it the ultimate Jimi Hendrix collection? No, I don’t think so. While hardcore fans will probably get a great deal of enjoyment out it, the casual fan probably won’t share that same level of appreciation for what is essentially a collection of rough cuts and demos. This compilation is more of a nuts-and-bolts and odds-and-ends collection, and doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive catalogue of Hendrix’s career (and it’s not).

It can be rather enlightening to hear previous and unreleased takes of popular Hendrix songs, but you also have to wonder if Hendrix would have wanted this material in the hands of his fans if he was still alive. It begs the question, “Is there nothing sacred about the original recordings, the way they were released, the way they were meant to be heard?” I think Hendrix himself would have echoed these sentiments, embarassed.

Apparently there is more of the same material they are thinking of releasing to the public, but what’s the point in hearing every take leading up to the final rendition of “Purple Haze” or any other song? What’s the point in releasing material we’ve heard before, only less refined? It’s a fantastic notion that there are still Hendrix rarities that few people have heard, but after a point you only get diminishing returns.

Conclusion: The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set

In conclusion, students of music and the guitar are sure to have more appreciation for this box set than the average fan. The run-of-the-mill fan might enjoy a couple of listens through, but I can’t imagine it standing up to repeated listens. It’s a cool collectible that will end up sitting on your shelf.

Jimi Hendrix – The Dick Cavett Show Review

Jimi Hendrix – The Dick Cavett Show Review

Jimi Hendrix - The Dick Cavett ShowThe Jimi Hendrix – The Dick Cavett Show DVD features Jimi’s two appearances on the Dick Cavett show. It also comes with a documentary with commentary from the likes of Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox and Dick Cavett himself.

Hendrix Appearances & Performances on The Dick Cavett Show

The performances probably aren’t as significant as the appearances. It brought Jimi Hendrix to a whole new audience who didn’t fit the general concert attendee demographic. It put a face to a name for those who had heard of Hendrix but had never seen him before.

But his performances on the show were short and relatively reserved. You won’t see any of the iconic antics Jimi was known for on this DVD.

His first appearance on the Dick Cavett show on July 7, 1969 features a performance of “Hear My Train A Comin'”. And his second appearance on September 9, 1969 features performances of “Izabella” and “Machine Gun”.

His appearance on July 7 is perhaps the more interesting one. It shows Jimi performing with the house band. The sound isn’t as great as it could be, but his Strat still sounds good. And it’s relatively clear. The house band also does a lot better than you might think.

Jimi’s performance on September 9 is conspicuously the lesser of the two; it’s readily apparent that the band had to cut “Machine Gun” – which usually extended into prolonged jam sessions onstage – short.

It may have been better if the band had performed a longer version of “Izabella”, instead of trying to squeeze in two songs but it may have been an irreversible executive decision.

The sound is rather muffled, and based on comments from the band members, there were clearly certain constraints to this performance. Mitch Mitchell recalls they didn’t have a sound check to speak of.

Dick Cavett Show Interview

Dick Cavett’s interview questions are enlightening as far as Jimi’s personality is concerned, but they don’t go anywhere.

There aren’t any specific facts or points of interest to latch on to, and Jimi wasn’t giving Cavett a whole lot to work with.

Jimi doesn’t seem entirely comfortable in this role – which might be why he didn’t volunteer a whole lot of information – but still appears to be enjoying himself overall.

The Dick Cavett Show, Conclusion

The Jimi Hendrix – The Dick Cavett Show DVD certainly isn’t a must-buy, even for fans, but hardcore fans might be inclined to check it out.

The rest of us could probably catch these performances on YouTube or some other site, and that would more than suffice for us.

Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix Review

Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix Review

Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix ReviewThe reason this collection features 20 songs is relatively obvious: Jimi Hendrix has a lot of great songs.

Still, this compilation cannot be considered definitive, as there is a lot of great material that hasn’t been represented here.

To be fair, this could be the “gateway drug” that leads you to explore Hendrix’ catalog further.

The 20 songs featured on on this release may embody some of Hendrix’s most commercially successful works, but in my opinion, there are a lot of other great songs like “51st Anniversary”, “House Burning Down”, “Izabella”, “Message to Love” and “In from the Storm” that aren’t a part of this collection.

Of course, music is subjective, and everybody has their favorites. Quite simply, there is still a great deal more to Hendrix than this anthology might box you into thinking.

Hendrix: Live & In the Studio

There are few artists whose live performances are as legendary as their albums, but Hendrix is one of those artists. It could even be argued that he is remembered more for his live performances than his studio work.

This collection features one live song in the form of “The Star Spangled Banner” to bring this point home. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of including a single live performance on what is essentially a “best-of” collection.

Best of Jimi Hendrix

Prior to me buying this CD, a friend of mine let me borrow a different best-of Hendrix compilation (out-of-print) that included his legendary “Wild Thing” performance at Monterey. I would have preferred to have that track on this disc over “The Star Spangled Banner”, to be honest.

One of the main appeals of Jimi is his unique guitar playing style. Yes, there are more technically capable guitarists today, and those who have taken it a step further. Nevertheless, his guitar work is just as relevant today as it ever was, and the influence that he has had on modern players is simply incalculable.

Some of my favorite moments on this disc include his beautiful R&B style playing on “The Wind Cries Mary”, “Hey Joe”, “Little Wing” and “Angel”. I also enjoy the psychedelic “Bold As Love”, “Crosstown Traffic” for its hook, Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” for the ethereal guitar solos, and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” for its bluesy and aggressive style.

Experience Hendrix, Conclusion

I really love this collection and I listened to it a lot. Again, I would encourage you to dig a little deeper if you’ve never listened to anything but best-of collections. Delving into the Jimi Hendrix catalogue is a rewarding experience, and there are plenty of other Hendrix songs that are worth hearing.