Friday, July 06, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 272 - Jimi Hendrix - Woodstock

Album: Woodstock
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Key Players – Mitch Mitchell – drums. Billy Cox – bass. Larry Lee – backing guitar. Juma Sultan – percussion. Jerry Velez – percussion. Jimi Hendrix – guitar and vocals.

Produced By - Alan Douglas

Release Date – August 20, 1994

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I heard his version of the “Star Spangled Banner” on the 4th of July.

Overview – There are a lot of stories about the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival held in August of 1969. An outdoor festival intended to be three days long gets expanded to four due to torrential rains and high winds. Jimi Hendrix was to be the headliner on Sunday. Being offered close to $50,000 to perform (other bands were flat feed 15K) Jimi arrived and was ready to play but things were pushed out. According to the liner notes this was a good thing as Jimi actually fell ill and needed medical attention Sunday evening. Jimi played Monday morning after the band Sha Na Na who were also slated to perform on Sunday. It is estimated only 50 to 60,000 people stayed until Monday and saw Jimi perform. There are countless resources and stories on the day. Dig in. The liner notes of this particular cd contained a lot of very interesting information.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The liner notes have the following note: “As with most of Jimi's festival sets technical problems impeded the recording of the show, however, the best of Hendrix at Woodstock is on this cd. The song order for the first-half is arranged and paced for flow. Authentic festival programming begins with Voodoo Child”.

That being said this review will be in the order of the cd.

The track “Introduction” is just that. An intro of “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” and a whole lot of yelling as the band gets on their gear. Jimi tells everyone to “dig” and understand that the band was not the “Experience” but “Gypsy Son and Rainbows”. He intros the band which leads to the first musical track “Fire”. The chopping biting guitar over Mitchells spastic drumming is tight, fast and loud. The vocals from Jimi are fine, but missing the backing vocals on the chorus. Cox seems to come up in the mix more as Hendrix takes off on the solo about 1:15 in. The capture of the tune is solid all things considering for the time and the surroundings of the event. The backing vocals seem to be more present come the third time as Jimi launches another guitar run. As the track ends there is more of an extended breakdown and then it ends. Jimi was chatty this day between songs with stories. Before “Izabella” start he talks a fair amount. The wah-wah pedal comes out and Jimi has a comfortable vibe going as Mitchell comes in. Cox is low but finds his groove and you can hear the work of Sultan and Velez seem to come out. If you listen to classic rock radio you seem to get hit very often with the same old tunes from Jimi so this is fun to listen to as the band is tight and it has all the makings of a great tune with the solos and the tight rhythm section. “Hear My Train A Coming (Get my heart back together)” finds the blues and Jimi teases the intro and the band comes in with the slow deep groove. Jimi dances over the top as Mitchell sets the tempo. The drums are not flashy, they are there to keep time it seems. Cox is more present on the track as the jam continues and is actually interesting for the duration. “Red House” is next. What makes this song interesting (historically wise) is that Jimi broke the high E string on this tune and played on five strings. The band is comfortable in their slow and steady pace as Cox and Mitchell seem to be locked in and let Jimi run with it. Jimi announces that “Jam back at the House (Beginnings)” is not really the song name, at least as of yet. Its an instrumental romp that changes directions a few times. The base of it is the rock/blues riffs but Mitchell is keen on changing the tempo. The percussion instruments are a bit more up here in the mix and the band seems to play well off one another. Mitchell takes a drum solo on this track rumbling across his kit keeping off the cymbals in the early part and then working them in and then when the full band comes in this really takes off. A really solid session comes of it and the final minute just rips. This would have been something to see. One of the more well known tracks from Jimi is next as “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)/Stepping Stone” begins. The whacka/whacka from the wah wha pedal is instantly recognizable and then the solid build up to the vocals. Mitchell gets on the ride cymbal and Cox just seems to attack his bass. It feels like I am hearing this bass line for the first time. Its melodic, finding the high frets and the rocketing back to the bottom. Jimi is in fine vocal form and you can hear the smile in his voice. This is the longest track on the collection just shy of 13 minutes and the early portions of the jam are a lot of fun to listen. The guys are all locked in and Jimi takes off with soaring and screeching (at times) solos. Jimi intros the band again, and even says “Thank you good night” (out of habit considering this was an early morning show). Jimi is chatty late in the song and requests the band to “keep going” and the jam continues until its just Jimi on the wah wah. I'll be first to admit I always thought that “The Star Spangled Banner” opened the set on this day, when it was actually later in the set.. The mix on this track is a little odd. For the first time you hear the audience yelling for the duration, where all other tracks it wasn't mixed that way. Jimi makes this version his own and there are solid moments I agree and a few parts I am sure Jimi wishes he had back but it really was a watershed moment for the festival. Take it for what it is. It then goes right to “Purple Haze”. This is a pretty cut and dry/quick version. The band is really together by this point and the song has that urgency it needs and they do a solid version of one of, if not the most well know Hendrix tune. As advertised the next track ,“Woodstock Improvisation”, is just that a solid jam that goes in to “Villanova Junction”. The band seems to cool way down on this finding a nice tight space with Cox setting the pace with single bass notes rung out as Jimi plays over the top. Mitchell is calm over the kit not forcing things and you can almost transport yourself to a small smoke filled night club for this track. Its an instrumental track that is the last “musical” track. “Farewell” is the stage announcements at the end of the festival about folks helping clean up and well wishes. The stage announcements were by Chip Monck.

Where are they now? - Gerardo”Jerry” Velez went on to work with Spyro Gyra as well as artists as diverse as David Bowie to Duran Duran. He has won multiple Grammy awards and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Juma Sultan continues to write and perform music and is a minister.
Larry Lee passed away on October 30, 2007. He was well know for his work with Al Green. Billy Cox remains active and works to take “The Experience Hendrix Tour” on the road each year.
Mitch Mitchell passed away on November 12, 2008. In the mid 70's in to the 90's Mitchell was “semi” retired playing only occasionally. In 2008 he joined the Experience Hendrix Tour and played many shows. The tour ended in Portland Oregon and five days after it concluded he passed away in his sleep while still in Portland. Jimi Hendrix passed away on September 18, 1970.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – Considering Jimi died when I was about 3 months old it wasn't an option.

FDF Overall Take – The album was expanded in 1999 to include more of the set. The one down side to Jimi and his legacy seems to be a constant release schedule. Here is part, 3 years from now another more expanded with new pictures and one more song etc. As a casual fan though you get some of the trademark Hendrix songs and the collection is really “clean”. Considering the venue in which this was recorded the collection is very listenable and the tunes you don't hear very often are a lot of fun to listen to. A decent live album worthy of checking out.


Jimi Hendrix official site
Check out Jerry Velez official site.
If you are stickler for such things you can see the set list, in order right here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Jam Back at the House (Beginnings)

Voodoo Child (Slight Return/Stepping Stone)

The Star Spangled Banner

You can buy the cd here

Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.


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