This isn’t usually the Hendrix album I reach for first. I’d opt for the three studio albums any day over this, but it’s well recorded and nice to hear Jimi play in a more relaxed setting than the Experience. There are some really nice, laid-back jams on this record – and then songs like Machine Gun which explode into frantic explorations.
As you might expect, it also sounds much blacker than any of the three studio albums, especially due to the soulful backing vocals provided by Buddy Miles. I never really think of Hendrix as a black artist, in the same way that I don’t consider him to be an American musician – mainly because across the three Experience albums, the backing vocals by Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell are very, very white and very, very British.
As much as I love Hendrix on record, I always struggle to stay interested when I’m listening to him play live. I have the same feeling about Jimmy Page. Both are fantastic guitarists but their fondness for improvisation can sometimes turn me off. There’s a fair bit of that kind of improvisation here, and when you look at the full set-lists for the two New Year’s Eve shows that this was cut from, you can see that they’ve avoided a lot of the three minute pop songs, in favour of material not previously associated with the Experience.
I have the European re-release version of this record. Instead of the six songs included on the original release (two on the first side, and four on the flip side), the reissue I have has nine in total (five on the first side, and four on the flip side). This obviously makes the album much longer, and even the inclusion of Foxy Lady is deceptive – it’s a six minute rendition!
Hit: Foxy Lady
Hidden Gem: Who Knows