Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Live at Monterey

I was recently listening to the original, vinyl release of this set - the split LP with Otis Redding which only showcased 4 of Jimi's songs - but have always considered this one of the most super-charged live sets ever, based on the video release, which is astounding. While this was not high on my "to buy" list, when I found it at a reasonable price I couldn't refuse it.

This was the Experience's first American show and their set helped to change to course of rock'n'roll forever-more. Their appearance in the Monterey Festival movie guaranteed their stardom and helped rocket Jimi up the charts and into pop culture as one of the best guitarists that ever lived.

Introduced by none other than Brian Jones - one of the many Englishmen who had been blown away by Jimi in Britain - the Experience then blasts into a high energy burst'o'blues with their take of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor". With his speed, style and taste, Jimi pulls out the stops in his blues-drenched, feedback-filled, frantic lead break while Mitch and Noel bash'n'crash'n'swing in their own wild style. Hendrix's own "Foxey Lady" is rendered rockin'-ly with another superb solo passage, showcasing his control of sustain'n'feedback. Of course, his take on "Like a Rolling Stone" is now mythical, starting a trend of making Dylan's songs his own that would continue throughout his career. They turn BB King's slow blues, "Rock Me Baby", into another super-sonic thrill ride that has become THEE version of this classic, as has his interpretation of "Hey Joe" (the first single by the band and, in this case, with a solo played with Jimi's teeth).

Another original, "Can You See Me" is run through at a frantic pace, with another feedback-laden break (I can picture his wild moves during this portion of the song) before they get momentarily mellower with the beautiful "The Wind Cries Mary". The massive American hit "Purple Haze" is fantastic, with a longer, psycho/psychedelic lead break (love the "not necessarily stoned, but beautiful" vocal toss-off here) before the band closes with the stuff of legends, the fiery sacrifice of a Stratocaster in a noise-fueled take on the Troggs' "Wild Thing" (complete with a whimsical "Strangers in the Night" nod in the solo section).

A set that revolutionized rock'n'roll for all time and possibly the best live set that Hendrix ever recorded. Essential for any fan of the man or of rock'n'roll!