Jimi Hendrix Experience Winterland Box Set (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)
A week away from the release of Electric Ladyland and clearly peaking (no pun intended), the Jimi Hendrix Experience entered San Francisco’s Winterland for three nights of music. Culled from these Oct. 10, 11 and 12, 1968 performances, these four discs (including a Hendrix interview from Boston) find Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, blending 18 songs among the performances, including a number of covers.
Yet, the original performers might be hard-pressed to recognize their works in Hendrix’s hands. Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” featuring the Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady on bass, becomes a searing romp, while “Sunshine of Your Love” pushes well beyond Cream’s original vision. “Wild Thing” never sounded heavier,” Hey Joe” is sinisterly stunning in execution, and Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” adopts a punchy, soulful persona.
But Hendrix’s original compositions pack the most punch. Pushed to the limited, songs are forceful, intense and driving, the one exception being the slow, beautiful magic of “Little Wing,”—complete with a wobbly octave-straining solo. Both versions of “Are You Experienced” feature lengthy, exasperated solos carrying the song to new heights while “Manic Depression,” “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” “Purple Haze” and “Spanish Castle Magic” shred the heavens. Despite some song overlap, no two sound the same.
Ironically, at one point Hendrix tells the crowd he kept the volume down to protect listener’s ears. Through all the glorious feedback, overdrive, sonic explorations and unexpected thunderous forays, including juicy intros and two riveting examples of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” that’s hard to believe. —Glenn BurnSilver
(This article appears in the September 2011 issue of Relix magazine.)