Intro By Oscar J. Jordan III
Jimi Hendrix is alive and well thank you very much. Though he's been gone for over thirty years the product keeps coming and coming. We have his family to thank for this. Since the inception of Experience Hendrix, run by his half sister Janie Hendrix and his father Al Hendrix, we've seen a steady out pouring of re-released and new material keeping Hendrix's musical legacy safe and sound. In his short four year career as a celebrity, Hendrix only produced three studio albums and one live album in his life time. Are You Experienced, Axis Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland, and Band of Gypsys. In addition to that were a plethora of alternate takes, unfinished tracks, unauthorized recordings, and live recordings.
Jimi Hendrix was a true artist in every sense of the word. He practiced his art (Is jamming a lost art?) with everybody and anybody whenever possible and recorded constantly. He was a blues and R&B innovator with a Jazz musician's philosophy on performing. Never play the same song exactly the same way twice. His songs often became leaping off points for musical exploration through improvisation. This is a good thing because it gives us more to listen to. For example, listen to any version of "Machine Gun," and you'll receive yet another volume of the encyclopedia brittanica on everything you can possibly do with a Fender strat. If you think I'm lying listen to "Machine Gun" from the album Band Of Gypsys and ask yourself if you've ever actually thought of creating the sound of wind with your guitar.
The latest release from Experience Hendrix, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection, is a two CD set of the master at work. It includes numerous photos and a well written and insightful essay by Kurt Loder of MTV. CD one is comprised of selected studio recordings. CD two are songs recorded live at various venues.
All in all it's a very nice well put together package. Of course hardcore Hendrix freaks will whine because of the lack of new material, but it's obvious to me that this package was geared more toward the casual fan who wants to go deeper, or the curious inexperienced. Experience Hendrix is not preaching to the converted. They are obviously trying to bring in a whole new generation of listeners. Janie Hendrix, John McDermott, and Eddie Kramer should be commended for their excellent work on this project. Longtime fans should enjoy this compilation out of sheer convenience but I hope Experience Hendrix won't forget us in the future. We're still waiting for those unearthed never before heard concerts. For now, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection blows the previous greatest hits style packages out of the water.
Track by Track Review By Bob Davis
In my opinion there are at least 3 different types of Jimi Hendrix fans:
a. FANATICS - People who already own (or seek to own) EVERY snippet of music that Hendrix ever was a part of
b. MAJOR FANS - People who own several of the Hendrix original albums ("Are You Experienced," "Axis: Bold As Love," and "Electric Ladyland"), perhaps even a few of the posthumous releases and have pretty much decided to let his soul RIP (except when they dust off one of the old albums and shed a tear while listening)
c. NEW FANS - Younger people (and some older people) who have just discovered Jimi Hendrix and are amazed by both POWER and SENSITIVITY of his music and are thirsting for more
People who are in categories a or b will regard this album as being redundant with music they already have in their collection.
They shouldn't be mad.
This CD set isn't meant for them.
It's probably meant for people who are in category c, who did NOT purchase last fall's 50-60 dollar box set, and who want a Jimi Hendrix "Greatest Hits" collection of both live and studio music.
(All others should save their money, so that they won't get mad..)
Here is my track by track review of 'Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix
DISC ONE: [STUDIO]
1) PURPLE HAZE 2:50
This is the song that Jimi Hendrix is probably best known for. Oddly enough the song never became a pop hit. As time grew on he grew to actually hate the song and loathed playing the song in concert, although he knew that he had to, because it was what the public expected.
2) HEY JOE 3:30
As we sit here in the year 2001, one of the most talked about issues is the violent content of many songs, most notably in rap music. This song is interesting to listen to in the context of today's music. Surely the song "Hey Joe" with it's tale of infidelity and murder, is one of the most VIOLENT songs ever laid down? I'm still waiting for some "gangsta rapper" to discover this song and make a cover version of it!
3) THE WIND CRIES MARY 3:20
To me this has always been a rather bland song
4) FIRE 2:43
This song is a taste of HARD ROCKIN PCYHEDELIC SOUL MUSIC (funk?) and has always been one of my favorite Hendrix songs. Makes me want to get up and dance every time I hear it. It contains the famous line. "Mover Over Rover and let Jimi Take Over". It checks in at 2:43 and although it was probably made this short to conform to the prevailing AM radio standard of 3:00 for a single, for me I always wished that FIRE was about 10 minutes long
5) HIGHWAY CHILE 3:39 *
This song is just a GREAT road song, with a story
6) ARE YOU EXPERIENCED 4:14
"Trippy" song that is defiantly part of the time capsule of the 1960's.
Great guitar work, but beyond that, in my opinion, not much to offer here
7) BURNING OF THE MIDNIGHT LAMP 3:39
I have tried many times to like this song, I just have never really been able to groove on it. Living Colour covered this song on their GREAT EP called "Biscuits" back in the early 1990's and even their cover did nothing for me
8) LITTLE WING 2:24
Beautiful slow jam by Jimi. Highly influenced by Curtis Mayfield.
Certainly not his best by any means, but it's still a great song
9) ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER 4:01 *
Whenever Jimi Hendrix chooses to cover the song of another artist, he takes it and makes it his own, rendering the original useless for all practical purposes.
Bob Dylan wrote "All Along The Watchtower".
Jimi Hendrix OWNS it!
Oddly enough this complex song containing multiple messages was the ONLY top 20 pop hit for Jimi Hendrix in the United States. It's a staple of modern day "oldies radio" stations and it's also one of my favorite Jimi Hendrix songs. In this version, I am able to hear some congas playing in the background that I never quite heard before
10) CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC 2:12
One of my favorites. It's WAAAAYYYY too short. It's a GREAT R&B (Funk?) song that anticipates the arrival on the scene of Funkadelic. This woman Jimi is talking about must be REALLY hard. If you have ever tried to drive the West Side Highway to the FDR drive in NYC down 34th Street, then you will know EXACTLY what I mean :)
11) VOODOO CHILD (SLIGHT RETURN) 5:12
It's the Blues with a whole lot of guitar feedback that all makes sense.
Just listen to it and see if you don't agree that it's a masterpiece
12) SPANISH CASTLE MAGIC 5:48 *
Perhaps the very first "Heavy Metal" song?
13) STONE FREE 3:43 *
Another BLAST of HARD ROCKIN PCYHEDELIC SOUL MUSIC (funk?) from the mind and guitar of Jimi Hendrix. If all things had been equal in this world, this song would have been a major hit on Black radio in 1973. But of course things ARE NOT equal in this world and by 1973 Jimi Hendrix had already been dead for a couple of years and Black people were running around calling him an "Uncle Tom".
14) IZABELLA 2:46 *
I always go back and fourth with myself as to if I like this song or not. Today is one of those days that I like it. It's got some nice R&B styled background vocals (Ghetto Brothers?) that make the tune likable
15) STEPPING STONE 4:07 *
I have reviewed this song in the past and many people have written in to me to disagree. I didn't like it then and I still don't like it :)
16) ANGEL 4:21
This song is a beautiful love song. One of the best ever. It's now a staple of "Classic Rock" radio. In my opinion it deserves to have a much wider audience! "Fly on my sweet angel, Fly on through the sky, Fly on my sweet angel, tomorrow I will be by your side."
17) DOLLY DAGGER 4:44
Wanna hear what P-Funk sounded like BEFORE there was a P-Funk? Then check out this song written about Jimi's off and on girlfriend, Devon Wilson.
This song contains pimps, playas, S&M, interracial sex and more :).
It's also a GREAT dance cut (featuring the STANK NASTY bass playing of Billy Cox) that I danced to at many dorm parties back in the early 70's when I was a college student
18) HEY BABY (NEW RISING SUN) 6:04
I have written about this song many times. I have talked about it ad nauseum. Suffice it to say that this is one of my personal top five Jimi Hendrix songs. First of all it's a SUPER FUNKY SLOW TUNE that kinda sounds like rock, jazz, blues and some kinda unidentifiable music from the future (or maybe the past?) all fused together. In the song Hendrix is singing about some mystical place that may or may not exist (the land of a new rising sun) where all is at peace and mankind is "one" with each other.
This is NOT the stuff of "AM radio hits"! It is quite simply a MASTERPIECE in 20th Century music
DISC TWO: [LIVE]
1) FIRE 3:09 ** [WINTERLAND, SAN FRANCISCO, OCTOBER 12, 1968]
On this LIVE cut, surprisingly it is Noel Redding who brings home the FUNK as Jimi soars on guitar and Mitch holds the beat steady
2) HEY JOE 6:46 ** [WINTERLAND, SAN FRANCISCO, OCTOBER 12, 1968]
I have always liked the live version of Hey Joe much better than the studio version. It's much FUNKIER and immediate!
3) I DON'T LIVE TODAY 6:32 [LOS ANGELES FORUM, LOS ANGELES, CA. APRIL 26, 1969]
The song starts out with Jimi trying to quell the crowd (something has happened and I can't really tell what). He then dedicates the song to the American Indians as Mitch starts the song out with a FIERCE drum solo. Try as I have over the years I have never been able to get into this song
4) HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN' 11:00 [BERKELEE COMMUNITY THEATRE, BERKELEY, CA. MAY 30, 1970]
This is taken from the immortal RAINBOW BRIDGE album, which is my favorite Hendrix album. "Hear My Train A Comin" is along with the version of "HEY BABY (NEW RISING SUN)"that appears on disc one of this set comprised side two of the original Rainbow Bridge album. I guess this is supposed to be a Blues song. I dunno, I'll leave the determination of that to people who are "experts" in determining what "genre" a piece of music is supposed to be.
All I know is that this song is a masterpiece, the guitar of Jimi Hendrix sounds like it's about 10 different instruments! And the bass playing of Billy Cox is SMOKIN! My very favorite version of the song appears on the "Hendrix: Blues" CD. However paired up on Rainbow Bridge with "HEY BABY (NEW RISING SUN)" the two together create a total spectrum of human life going from "birth" HEY BABY (NEW RISING SUN)), to "death" (Hear My Train A Comin). These two songs work together for me in a similar manner that "Love Supreme" by John Coltrane works for me
5) FOXEY LADY 4:25 ** [MAUI, HAWAII, JULY 30, 1970]
I suppose that this is the second most famous song recorded by Jimi Hendrix.
I have never been a big fan of it personally
6) MACHINE GUN 11:36 [FILLMORE EAST, NEW YORK, N.Y. JANUARY 1, 1970]
For my review of this song go to the following URL:
It's the ONLY Vietnam era (to my knowledge) "anti war song" by someone who had actually served in the military! (Buddy's Drumming is AWESOME)
7) JOHNNY B. GOODE 4:46 [BERKELEE COMMUNITY THEATRE, BERKELEY, CA. MAY 30, 1970]
Is SLAMMIN too strong a word to use for describing Jimi's live cover version of the classic Chuck Berry song?
8) RED HOUSE 8:00 ** [NEW YORK POP FESTIVAL, RANDALLS ISLAND, N.Y., JULY 17, 1970]
"If you din't bring any Blues with you, we will make some for you." This is how Jimi introduces the song and then he immediately jumps right into this MONSTER JAM that sounds like it's straight from an Alabama roadhouse in 1952. I'm surprised that it sounds so good, since the sound system at decrepit Dowling Stadium on Randall's Island (between Manhattan and Queens was always notoriously bad
9) FREEDOM 4:06 ** [ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, AUGUST 30, 1970]
Of course this is another great FUNK jam that was a few years ahead of it's time. Had it been released a few years later, it might have become a hit record crossing over on both the pop and R&B charts. Of course we will never know what might have happened with this song. However I could easily visualize Jimi singing this song as a duet with Gil Scott-Heron in the mid 1970's? Nice to hear it live here, but the studio version is MUCH better in my opinion.
10) Purple Haze 3:55 [San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, Ca. May 24, 1969]
He really does sound like he is going thru the motions and is totally bored by the song
11) STAR SPANGLED BANNER 3:43 [WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL, BETHEL, N.Y., AUGUST 18, 1969]
I always wondered what Francis Scott Key would have thought of this sonic masterpiece?
12) Wild Thing 7:41 [Monterey Pop Festival, Monterey, Ca. June 18, 1967]
This was yet another song that Jimi came to hate, but he always seemed to put an interesting spin on the song when he played it live. First of all, he always seemed to have an extended intro to the song and here the segue from "Star Spangled Banner" is perfect. Then he usually seems to play it slower and FUNKIER than on the radio version of the song. Finally the totally unexpected segue into "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra is always surprising
* Alternate Recording
** Previously Unavailable