The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set is not for the faint of heart. This four CD box set of unreleased tracks, alternate versions of well known songs, and rare concert footage is a cornerstone of any Hendrix collection. This box set is no place to start if you are not familiar with Hendrix. I would recommend his first three studio albums for any type of Hendrix indoctrination. This set, however, is a good place to complete your collection or at least to explore his legacy a little deeper.
Engineer Eddie Kramer was in charge of the project. He is a familiar figure as his posthumous Hendrix production credits go back to The Cry Of Love in 1971. The tracks sound terrific as he re-mastered the sound with modern equipment which gives the music a polished feel. He also presents the tracks in chronological order which is always welcome with projects this extensive.
Disc one finds three unreleased tracks. “Title #3,” “Taking Care Of Business,” and “Here He Comes” may not be of the quality of Hendrix’ first album but they certainly present his musical vision circa 1967. The gems of this first disc are alternate versions of such classics as “Purple Haze,” “Foxey Lady,” and “Third Stone From The Sun” which give a glimpse into the creative mind of Jimi Hendrix.
Disc two presents some excellent live tracks. “Fire” is taken from a 1968 concert at Clark University in Massachusetts. It is a frenetic version that shows just how technically sound Hendrix was as a guitarist. “The Wind Cries Mary,” from a 1967 Paris concert, shows Hendrix’s softer side as he provides subtle and melodic improvisations. “Burning The Midnight Lamp” from September 5, 1967, is just Hendrix squeezing every possible sound from his guitar.
Disc three is dominated by alternate versions. It is nice to hear “Hear My Train A Comin’” as a formative track as it was a concert staple. “Spanish Castle” and “Room Full Of Mirrors” show subtle differences from the recognized versions. Live versions of “Little Wing” and “Voodoo Child” come complete with feedback and all sorts of distortion that only Hendrix could produce on stage.
Disc four is a feast of unreleased material. “Country Blues,” at over eight minutes, “Lover Man,” “Cherokee,” and “Slow Blues” all make their debuts. Hendrix’ early producer, Chas Chandler, did not approve of Alan Douglas’ changing Hendrix’s material and even taking writing credits during the twenty years that he controlled Hendrix’s catalogue of music. When Jimi’s family won back control in a court battle, Chandler turned over a treasure trove of unreleased material to them. “In From The Storm” and “Slow Blues” close out the set as they were recorded at the Isle Of Wight Music Festival, August 30, 1970, just prior to Hendrix’s death.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set is a valuable addition to the Hendrix legacy. Not only does it expand the music that Hendrix left behind but it also solidifies him as a genius of the guitar who forever changed the use of that instrument and rock music.