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Live At Woodstock by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock. Where to even begin? Maybe with the word Iconic; one would be hard pressed to name another moment in the last fifty years of American music as culturally and musically fecund as the guitarist's epic reading of "The Star Spangled Banner" in front of the half a million strong crowd gathered for the festival in upstate New York. The terrible beauty of Hendrix's improvisation on the national anthem was brilliant as a piece of music and perfectly expressive of the aspirations and frustrations of its audience; its social impact was immediate and controversial, still reverberating to this day.

Of course, as vital as that moment was, it only constitutes part of the picture. Jimi Hendrix and his band played for close to ninety minutes at Woodstock, and the two DVD set of Jimi Hendrix Live At Woodstock finally gives us that performance in its entirety. And quite a performance it is. Hendrix performs a number of his big rock hits ("Foxey Lady," "Hey Joe, "Purple Haze," etc.) and some straight-ahead blues ("Red House," "Hear My Train A Comin'"), but most he and his band engage in some adventurous jamming. The gig, then, covers a little bit of everything Jimi did.

By 1969, Jimi was trying to expand out of the power trio format he had established with the Experience. To this end, Hendrix, drummer Mitch Mitchell, and bassist Billy Cox were joined by a second guitarist, Larry Lee, and two percussionists. Larry Lee plays really well with Hendrix, and the two engage in some nice twin leads on "Jam Back At The House" and "Lover Man." The two percussionists? Well, they look good. You can't much hear them over Jimi and the frenetic Mitchell.

Not to say the sound is bad, not at all. It sounds surprisingly clean, with the nucleus of Hendrix, Cox & Mitchell coming through crystal clear. There are two film versions of the show included, along with a variety of bonus features including a press conference held within a month of the concert. A fine and essential document.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jimi Hendrix
  • CD Title: Live At Woodstock
  • Genre: Jazz DVD / Video
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Experience Hendrix
  • Rating: Five Stars
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