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Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East

Which phase of Jimi Hendrix career was the most important? Depends on whom you ask.

Rockers, for example, are more likely to have dug his Are You Experienced/Axis: Bold as Love/Electric Ladyland work. But in the worlds of jazz, soul and funk, Hendrix short lived Band of Gypsys era is to many, ground zero, the point at which Hendrix started an experimental, funky, improvisational direction that is closer to Miles, Sly and Clinton than it is to Jeff Beck or Clapton. The classic Band of Gypsys album gave a brilliant, though incomplete snapshot of that period. The two-disc Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East (Experience Hendrix, MCAD2-11931, 59:32, 55:38) completes the picture.

Drawn from the same two day New Year1’s gig as Band of Gypsys, Live covers a lot of the same ground. There are two versions of “Machine Gun”, as well as alternate versions of “Them Changes” and “Power of Soul” (the latter closer to the version contained on “Crash Landing”). Then there are familiar tunes that didn’t make it onto the first album -a smoldering “Stone Free” “Wild Thing” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return). And Hendrix, playing responding to Miles’ unadorned thump and reassured by Billy Cox’ knowing bass accompaniment (much more attuned to Hendrix1 than converted guitarist Noel Redding) But the real treat comes from the less-familiar tunes, like “Earth Blues” (originally released on the Rainbow Bridge album), and a wonderfully warped version of “Auld Lang Syne”. “Stop” which first appeared on a haphazard Band of Gypsys 2 release, appears here, demonstrating more than anything how close Hendrix was to breaking open the world of rock-soul fusion.

Music, according to some, is in its impressionistic phase. Sounds, textures and motifs-in everything from electronica to hip-hop-have taken the place of words as the preferred mode of communication.

Originally Published