Calling all Jimi Hendrix fans! The Jimi Hendrix family (Experience Hendrix LLC), in conjunction with Legacy Recordings, has been resurrecting and reissuing the Jimi Hendrix catalogue. This latest wave of reissues consists of four new releases: Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live At The Isle Of Wright on DVD, Jimi Hendrix Experience – Winterland (4 CD set), Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show DVD, and Hendrix In The West (Expanded).
When Hendrix In The West was originally released during early 1972, it was less than 18 months after his death, and any new Hendrix material was a big deal at the time as it was unknown how much was actually out there. It proved to be his most popular and highest charting live album.
The release has now returned in an expanded and cleaned-up form. The biggest difference in sound is the quality of his guitar. The notes and tone is now crystal-clear and given the technology of the recordings at the time, this may be about as good as these recording are going to get. All in all, it’s worth the price of the purchase just for the improved sound.
The album is a collection of live tracks culled from a number of performances. Therefore, it is not a complete concert experience but, rather, Hendrix live in short bursts. All tracks were with his basic trio. The drummer is Mitch Mitchell, while Noel Redding and Billy Cox both apprear on bass.
The new tracks, “I Don’t Live Today,” “Spanish Magic Castle,” and “Fire,” have all appeared in many forms and on multiple releases down through the years, but these versions are welcome as Hendrix was a consummate improvisational artist and his songs are rarely similar when performed live. The placement of the tracks make more sense on this reissue, fitting together and flowing into one another better.
“The Queen” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” now lead off the album and are a good introduction even though they appear to be truncated versions.
The best track is the old rocks ‘n’ roll classic “Johnny B Goode.” His high octane performance bends and stretches the songs original structure without breaking it. It’s fun to compare it with his funky interpretation of “Blue Suede Shoes.”
“Fire” and “I Don’t Live Today” are presented back to back and prove just how important Mitch Mitchell was to Hendrix’s sound. “Fire” is at its usual frenetic best. “I Don’t Live Today” contains all the elements of a Hendrix psychedelic classic. The feedback, the insertion of notes from “The Star Spangled Banner” and some great improvisational riffs all add up to a superior performance.
The perennial live favorite “Red House” benefited greatly from the remastering. It is a slow blues tune and each note is crystal clear, with his finger speed on full display. “Little Wing” has also been enhanced and is a good example of his ability to bend the strings to create his unique sound.
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” concludes the album and contains the line “If I don’t see you no more in this world.”
Hendrix In The West has been out of print for decades so it’s nice to have it back in circulation, especially in an expanded and remastered form. It should please Hendrix’s large fan base, and if you have never owned the album, then this reissue becomes essential.