What does it sound like?:
Those of you who have the official release of the “Band of Gypsies” album will know what this sounds like as it is a complete set of the four shows from which that album was compiled. To explain, Hendrix played two shows on 31/12/69 and two more on 01/01/70 (confusingly both nights went past midnight so you hear various dates but essentially the concerts were on those two nights and ran past midnight). Opinions vary on the change of musicians from the Experience lineup – my view is Billy Cox is a much better bass player than Noel Redding and it shows, and while no one could match Mitch Mitchell for his free, open jazzy style, Buddy Miles is more of a solid groove player which personally I like more. These days I prefer a drummer who doesn’t clatter about all the time, so this rhythm section works for me. I don’t mind Buddy Miles’s vocals either – another bone of contention for some – his soully phrasing contrasting well with Jimi’s stoned drawl.
The playing of course is outstanding – funky, loose, creative, with Jimi in full flow, one minute up there with the stars and the next wildly out of tune, but somehow with Hendrix it doesn’t matter. Of course there is much duplication across the concerts with the songs on the existing album reappearing on each night, plus a few new ones so net net there are 24 tracks here if you de-duplicate.
What does it all *mean*?
This is obviously one for the completist – you could argue that Hendrix and producer Eddie Kramer picked what they considered the best performances for the original double album so who wants to hear the ones they thought weren’t up to scratch? In fairness, I think the ones which didn’t make the cut are equally exciting and if you like Hendrix in this incarnation you’ll love this. In no way are they duffers in comparison with the chosen ones – who knows why Jimi preferred them? I mean, who doesn’t want four more versions of “Machine Gun”?
Goes well with…
In this modern day you don’t get a CD to review, or even something downloadable, so I listened to it in front of a PC with crappy computer speakers and due to regular “resource limit for asset” errors on the Sony website I couldn’t even play it end to end so I’m guessing it will sound great anywhere you consume your Hendrix now. I imagine. Frankly I can’t be bothered to download each track individually (though that function didn’t work properly either) so the end to end experience will have to pass me by.
Might suit people who like…
Obviously Hendrix, great guitar playing! In this case it’s completists only. I can’t imagine many non affiliated listeners wanting all four shows when they can get the Hendrix approved best cuts in the original album.