Jimi Hendrix was one of those acts who was great in the studio, but seeing him live was a totally mind blowing experience. Unfortunately, many aspiring musicians and music lovers of the modern generation do not have the pleasure to go out and see Jimi, since its been 30 some years since he died of a drug overdose. However, with albums like Live at Woodstock
, music lovers can hear the guitar great play some fine tunes during one of rock's most beloved concerts.
This two-disc CD features 15 tracks from Jimi's performance on the final morning of Woodstock. Often hailed as one of the best improvisers on guitar, this album includes many shining moments of those improv's. The second CD alone contains a 5-song medley that lasts nearly half an hour alone.
Starting with the first CD, an introduction is given to the act and then Hendrix and his Band of Gypsies hop right into "Message to Love". "Hear My Train A Comin'" and "Spanish Castle" follow and all feature extended solos of pure blues rock. For a band that had barely rehearsed before this performance, the musicianship is great. "Red House", "Lover Man", and "Foxey Lady" follow without much of a pause in between, and its sound is intoxicating. Jimi's voice has a sort of 'out-there' sound to it, mixed with interesting rhythms and a hard guitar edge. At times, I forget there are any words to these songs, Hendrix's guitar is just so hard rocking and enjoyable to listen to. Making use of feedback and distortion as well as combining blues and hard rock.
The first CD ends with Jimi Hendrix mumbling something about his band not being in tune or very rehearsed, so they were just gonna play a little instrumental and see what happens. This 7-minute jam is also piece of rock at a furious pace turned to melodic soloing. The dynamic is rhythm, note selection, and so on makes this an interesting piece to listen to as it always seems to be progressing.
The second CD kicks off "Izabella" - a song for those missing their woman - and a faster-paced "Fire". Both again show off Jimi's guitar skills as a soloist and his ability to sing and play superbly at the same time. The height of this improvising comes on the next five songs, strung together in a medley fashion with great transition. It was one of the most memorable moments for all those who attended.
It kicks off with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" - nearly 14 minutes long, and pretty much all a guitar solo. At the end of it, Hendrix kicks into a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner," which I'm told was one of rock's finest moments. The distortion, the feedback, and the sheer majestic sound that comes out of Hendrix's guitar - and it's followed up by one of his most recognized songs "Purple Haze." The soulful national athem, to the hard rock hit - pure musical brilliance.
The last two sounds are instrumental, and I'm not sure where the line is drawn as to which is which, but like "Jam Back At the House" at the end of the first CD, the dynamic in all parts of the song make it worth a listen. From a chugging pace, to a light fluttery ringing back to a solid pace - and that's only in the span of about a minute. The CD concludes with Jimi's encore performance of "Hey Joe", his first single. A perfect closing to a concert that meant a lot to the hippie movement - with Hendrix easily one of the most powerful figures in that movement.