Music Review: Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

This delicious reissue of Jimi Hendrix live in concert has the track listing changed around (go to Wikipedia if you want to investigate how the tracks were swapped from the original vinyl release to the newly remastered edition), includes a wonderful booklet written by John McDermott, and preserves the trifecta of “Johnny B. Goode”, “Lover Man” and “Blue Suede Shoes” which magically opened up the vinyl disc, now placed as tracks 8, 9 and 10 on the CD.    Interesting to note that John Lennon’s 1969 live album, Live Peace In Toronto, also has oldies covers (including “Blue Suede Shoes”), two musical giants having live albums in release contemporaneously (within 2-3 years), both covering classics.

This is part of a new wave of releases from Sony Music and Experience Hendrix, around the date of the forty-first anniversary of Jimi’s passing this September 18, (1970-2011), of course.

Before the Alan Douglas era set in with that after-the-fact producer’s vision for the Jimi Hendrix catalog of music on albums like 1975’s Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning releases, manager Michael Jeffery had engineers Eddie Kramer  and John Jansen  develop compilations after 1971’s The Cry Of Love, those being the Rainbow Bridge Original Motion Picture Soundtrack} (actually studio tracks and a cut from the May 30, 1970 Berkeley Community Center concert released towards the end of 1971) and this quick follow-up, Hendrix In The West  in the early days of 1972.

With a version of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the traditional British National Anthem, “The Queen”, culled from the Isle Of Wight concert (but not the single disc 1971 Polydor Isle Of Wight release), “Lover Man”, “Johnny B. Goode” and “Blue Suede Shoes” from the Berkeley Community Center concert (the “Johnny B. Goode” track would be re-released the next year along with “Purple Haze” from the Berkeley concert on Reprise Records ‘ Sound Track Recordings From The Film Jimi Hendrix}; and “Red House”, “Little Wing” and “Voodoo Chile” from the San Diego Sports Arena, this album – with such a mish mash of songs taken from here and there – strangely works. Forty years later the compilation has a sort of iconic status with Hendrix fans, this one included.  It’s just a wonderfully tracked study of his performances that works in this setting, a superb jukebox put together with love and care that has stood the test of time.

Perhaps it’s the truth that Jimi Hendrix and his music somehow had the ability to rise above all the mutations (or as Lou Reed would say in “Rock & Roll”, “despite all the amputations”) his performances would endure in the years after his passing. The Jim Marshall photos are beautiful and the seamless production by Eddie Kramer and John Jansen make for a commercial and interesting mixture of the two versions of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding from the San Diego Sports Arena,  Mitch Mitchell and  Billy Cox from both Isle Of Wight and the Berkeley Community Center. Author Steven Roby  gives an explanation of how this album developed on page 171 of his book Black Gold:The Lost Archives Of Jimi Hendrix, citing engineer Eddie Kramer  and manager Michael Jeffery’s ideas for the project. Roby’s book also states that material on this release came from England’s Royal Albert Hall, but that information is not on the liner notes. It’s an interesting release for the fans in the immediate time after the loss of Hendrix, and a no-longer-guilty pleasure for purists years after the fact.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.