When a pop musician has been dead 40 years, it's hard to get people to take you seriously when you talk about how great they were. There have been a million players since his or her time and people whose parents might not even have been alive when the person was in their prime are going to, with good reason, ask why they should even care. Let's face it, every generation always hears it from their elders how much better everything was in their time and learns how to tune them out, so why should this generation be an exception? It's especially difficult when so called "Classic Rock" stations choke the airwaves with uninspired shit that gives the impression that the music of four decades ago was as unimaginative as what they hear on the radio today.
So I can't blame anyone if their eyes started to glaze over simply reading the title of the item under review here. Not another article extolling the virtues of some long dead rock star. What makes him so special that we should give a shit about a DVD shot 40 years ago of this guy performing? The sound quality probably sucks and the pictures can't be much better, so why should I shell out however much its going to cost? All of which are perfectly fair questions and the only answer I can offer is because seeing is believing. In spite of any deficiencies in audio and visual quality, I'm willing to bet that you've never seen anyone like Jimi Hendrix and after watching the newly remastered and restored version of Jimi Plays Berkeley, released by Legacy Recordings, you'll agree.
Jimi Plays Berkeley isn't a concert film in the typical sense of the word, it's more like a documentary film about a concert Hendrix gave and what was happening in America at the time. The University of California, Berkeley was one of the centres for student unrest in the 1960s and 1970s. The Free Speech Movement, protesting the censorship of student newspapers by the governors of the university, began mounting demonstrations in 1964. These expanded to include demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and other causes. By the time Hendrix's concert took place in 1970, running battles between student demonstrators and police were common occurrences in Berkeley.