Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jimi Hendrix 16: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

By the turn of the century, Jimi Hendrix had already been best-ofed and anthologized in a few handfuls of hits collections. The current trend was to tell an artist’s (or artists’) story via a box full of alternate, live and/or otherwise unreleased material. Despite having already seen two box sets of such material in the CD era, both had been deleted, so now there was another.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience wasn’t the best title for it, since the band of that name only appeared on about two-thirds of the contents. Still, there was something of an attempt to be chronological, though the first disc does jump around a bit. Rather beginning with the two songs from a concert in Paris—from October 1966, the earliest recordings of the Experience as a band—an alternate mix of “Purple Haze” comes first to entice the non-fanatics, among several outtakes from the debut. Among the more fascinating pieces are the spoken word section used for “Third Stone From The Sun”, isolated and extended for clarity and context, and an early take of “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp”, showing Jimi’s prowess on the harpsichord.
The other three discs proceed from there, with some of the more tantalizing tracks being restored mixes from Crash Landing, plus otherwise orphaned selections from some of the other posthumous albums. “It’s Too Bad” is a lengthy blues jam with Buddy Miles and organist Larry Young that’s a lot better than it reads. By the time you get to the fourth disc, you’re astounded by all the alternate versions of things that might or might not have become part of the fourth studio album.
The live material isn’t all new, coming from the Monterey Pop Festival show, the Stages box, Hendrix In The West, the Isle of Wight and some of the “official bootlegs” sold via mail order directly by the estate; still, it does a nice job of presenting the whole picture. In the end, The Jimi Hendrix Experience demonstrates just how easy it is to put together a set of rare Hendrix material. Indeed, thirteen years later, after Sony/Legacy had unleashed a whole pile of old and new material, the set re-appeared, with four extra songs of varying rarity mixed into the original sequence. You know, so everybody that cared had to buy it again.

Jimi Hendrix The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)—3
2013 reissue: same as 2000, plus 4 extra tracks

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