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Music Review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Winterland (Highlights)

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On Thursday, October 10, 1968, Jimi Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell, and Noel Redding walked on stage for the first of six shows in three days at the legendary Winterland concert hall in San Francisco. The Jimi Hendrix Experience would rotate 18 different songs over the course of the six shows. The tape machines were rolling and all six performances were recorded for posterity.

Experience Hendrix LLC and Legacy Recordings have been reissuing the Hendrix catalogue. Four new titles were released September 13. Hendrix In The West, Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show, Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live At The Isle Of Wight, and Winterland have all been reissued.

Winterland comes in a variety of forms. There is the deluxe four-disc box set for the Hendrix fan who wants everything. There is the eight-disc, 12 inch, 180 gram audio LP box set for Hendrix purists. Then there is the subject of this review, Winterland (Highlights), for the person who only wants a taste of the concerts without straining the budget.

Yes the four CD box set is a superior release due to the quantity of the tracks. Various versions of many of the songs allow the listener to hear the differences and nuances that Hendrix would bring to his performances. The one disc highlight set is more controlled and less complicated as the 11 tracks present Hendrix at his live best with just one performance of each song. He was just shy of his 26th birthday and was on the verge of super stardom. He had honed his concert skills by endless touring and the included tracks find his stage act mature and well developed.

The single disc contains a generous dose of Hendrix as he combines some of his classic songs with covers of other artist’s material.

“Fire” and “Foxy Lady” begin the disc in a rocking way and set the tempo for what will follow. “Are You Experienced” and “Purple Haze” both show the tightness of the three musicians. Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” at 11 minutes and “Here My Train A Comin’” at 12 minutes, give Hendrix the room to stretch out and improvise. A controlled “Little Wing” and an almost out of control “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” were concert staples for most of his career.

The most interesting track was Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.” It’s interesting to compare the guitar solos of Hendrix and Clapton as they were very different in approach and style.

Winterland (Highlights) is an excellent overview of his six shows at the old ballroom and as it captures him at a transition point in his career. It is an economical alternative to the larger and more expensive sets.

 

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