Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock (1994)


Despite being unwell and having had to wait all night before finally taking the stage at about 8.00am on a damp Monday morning, Jimi plays at the top of his form, putting in a tremendous performance, as do Billy Cox on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums.

The sound is filled-out by Larry Lee on guitar and Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez on congas and other percussion instruments. Not that Jimi and Mitch ever really needed such assistance; Noel Redding had left the band a couple of months before and Jimi was into making it more of a collective.

Songs played include Red House (new out in the States at the time), Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Purple Haze and Jimi’s famously and of course deliberately murdered Star Spangled Banner, his Vietnam equivalent of Picasso’s Spanish Civil War painting Guernica. Izabella, Fire, Hear my Train a Comin’ and Villanova Junction are pretty good too, not to mention the various improvisations and jams.

The recording carries some extraneous noise, some unintended feedback, the odd buzz and squeak, but even before factoring-in the primitive equipment and the appalling weather and other conditions of the festival weekend it ain’t bad. In fact, all things considered, it’s really good.

The atmosphere comes over and by the time we get to announcer Chip Monck’s closing remarks – closing the whole festival – it’s impossible to feel anything other than downright nostalgic. There is a nice exchange too between Jimi and a guy who comes onstage to fix the mikes. Jimi empathizes with his embarrassment, “I know what you mean. People are looking at me too, man”.

There is, however, a loss of authenticity; the tracks have been re-ordered. First off was actually Voodoo Child (Slight Return), not Fire, though Jimi often did open live shows with Fire. As re-ordered, the show plays well enough, with no noticeable gaps or breaks between sections.

Some material was left off too, including an encore that started as Valleys of Neptune but ended as Hey Joe. Live at Woodstock has the whole set but for a couple of songs from Larry Lee (but again re-ordered).

The booklet with this CD is colourful and informative. A long essay by Michael Fairchild pushes the limits of how much we really want to know about the weather in Mississippi over the Woodstock Weekend (even worse than in Bethel, N.Y., where the festival was held), but on the detail of what it was like wallowing in the mud of Max Yasgur’s dairy farm Fairchild stops way short of the Woodstock film.

For that, most buyers of this album will be grateful.

April 13, 2013 - Posted by | Jimi Hendrix :Woodstock |

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