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Music Review: Jimi Hendrix – Live at Woburn

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To be candid, the first few cuts of this disc are pretty rough, and two of them are incomplete. The guys were having a lot of trouble with the sound system; there are some cutouts and hum, and some garbling. By the fourth cut, which really begins the meat of this recording, the problems have been overcome and the group wails through to the end. The sound and tone improve, and things shift into high gear.

On the third cut, “Fire,” Jimi says that the group hadn’t rehearsed in a while, “… so we’re just up here jammin’, really,” as he put it, but you wouldn’t know it.

The first three problems run a total of under seven minutes, and that’s all on this recording that I consider less than the usual, great Experience show, except for about 30 seconds at the end of the fourth cut, “Tax Free.” That, and cut 2, a very short version of "Sgt Pepper," are the only songs that are not Hendrix originals.

Beginning with the aforementioned "Tax Free," followed by “Red House,” “Foxey Lady,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” and “Purple Haze,” the disc gives us over 40 minutes of great, previously unreleased Jimi. So other than those first seven minutes of problems, this is a great Hendrix performance (it's only that 14% which is problematic).

Since Jimi’s sister Janie took over the reins of Experience Hendrix, the official licensor of all things Jimi, I’ve seen a steady climb in quality and collectability of Jimi’s offerings. Plus, she’s releasing some rare goodies. Those she doesn’t release herself through Experience Hendrix are very tightly controlled, and the quality control matches.

Live at Woburn is a brand-new disc of Jimi’s music that’s never before been released. You’ve certainly heard other versions of most contents, but you haven’t heard those on this disc unless you were there just a tad over 31 years ago. Plus there’s a special essay, and never before seen photos of the concert. If you weren’t at Woburn Abbey on July 6, 1968, this is the next best thing.

This release is the 11th in Dagger Records “authorized bootleg recording series," the current(?) holder of the Jimi CD license. I did read just today, however, that  “UMPG has signed the timeless catalog of world-renowned, artist/composer/guitarist Jimi Hendrix, to an exclusive publishing agreement.” UMPG is Universal Music Publishing, and this quote was taken from the Summer 2009 issue of Universal Music Publishing.  Jimi’s listed as being in their stable, and clicking on his name took me to Jimi’s website. However, I could find no mention of this news item there.

Everything that I see looks like it means the entire catalog is now with UMPG. Let’s hope they’ll do as well as Dagger did with the license. Jimi is timeless in his popularity, borne out by Google, with ten million+ hits on his name, so there’s plenty of life left in this license. Janie’s stated, more or less, that the Jimi brand won’t be cheapened, as others have been, so let’s hope it stays that way.

This concert was the only one Hendrix and Experience did in 1968, other than an appearance on Dusty Springfield’s TV show.  “Voodoo Child” and “Mockingbird,” one of her hits, were performed.  The quality of the videos is pretty poor, but the sound is not bad.  Woburn was only the third time that “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was played live.

I heard, but am unable to verify yet, that this concert existed only on 2-track tape owned by the Irish, later Italian, Hendrix Fanzine Univibes, which had issued three Hendrix CDs with the permission of Alan Douglas, the estate’s former lawyer. The estate eventually took custody of the tape, which resulted in this issue.

This is a worthy addition to anyone’s Jimi collection.

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About Lou Novacheck

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/luigibasco Lou Novacheck

    I made an egregious mistake in this review, and my apologies to any affected by it. I received a few minutes ago an email from Bob Merlis. Per his words, “We’re a small, independent, PR company with a very select client roster.” One of his clients is Experience Hendrix. Bob corrected me on an important point I made in this article. Here’s his email, verbatim:
    QUOTE
    Dear Lou,

    Thanks for posting this and letting me know about it. I want to clear up, as best I can, something you brought up in the passage pasted below. UPMG [sic] is a music publisher, they administrate publishing of the songs that Jimi Hendrix wrote and which are owned by Experience Hendrix, LLC. This is strictly about music publishing and not about control of the catalog of master recordings; you seem to have confused the two. Experience Hendrix still owns the rights to all of the recordings issued by Dagger.

    I’ve pasted the UPGM [sic] announcement below.

    Best,
    Bob
    END QUOTE

    I didn’t include the UMPG announcement Bob spoke of. If anybody would like to get a copy of it, please contact me offline through my Google Profile page.
    Again, my apology.

  • Pat Britten

    I was there, all along the watchtower, wrapped around a speaker left of stage, 7 purple haze. I can’t be sure of the order, but I think Family was followed by T-Rex consisting of Mark Bohlen and my house mate/bongo teacher Steve Took. They opened with an enchanting acapella evocation of animal impressions climaxing in a full on barnyard cacophony. Arthur Brown and Fire and Jimmi, who I met a likeness of on the arm of a smashing blonde upon exiting early through the laughing masses. They gently offered popcorn in good humour and I accepted.