Jimi Hendrix - guitar, vocals; Noel Redding - bass; Mitch Mitchell - drums
This show captures the Jimi Hendrix Experience headlining over Sly and the Family Stone at the Fillmore East.
Mid 1968 is arguably the best possible time to have caught Hendrix in concert. He was playing at his most joyful and carefree, and the trappings of success haven't yet taken a toll on his mental health. He was also developing at an incredible rate during this time and beginning work on the Electric Ladyland album, which would find him experimenting more than ever before. This set catches Hendrix in a very comfortable and playful mood and engaging in humorous dialogue with the audience. At one point, someone yells "Take off your hat, Jimi!" to which he replies, "I'll take off my hat if you take off your pants!" amidst cheers and laughter from the audience.
The performance kicks off with "Lover Man," a song currently in development, and this arrangement is significantly different than the recorded version and with a lot more frenetic energy. They continue with typically searing versions of "Fire" and "Foxy Lady," but it's the slow burn of "Red House" that begins hitting stratospheric levels. This version is really beyond words. Jimi is definitely tapped into something and this 15-minute version has all the emotion and deep thoughtful playing that he was known for.
By popular demand, they continue with "Hey Joe" which also gets an extended treatment. Following this, Jimi toys with the audience by launching into Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" for about a minute before letting it fall completely apart. Obviously itching to continue where he was heading with "Red House," he begins another slow blues with "Hear My Train A' Comin'." Again, there's nothing more delicious than Hendrix playing the blues and this is a prime example. At this point, the band whips up a loose rendition of the Bob Dylan obscurity "Please Crawl Out Your Window." Jimi was deep into Bob Dylan, made apparent by covering this unknown Dylan tune.
The set closes with a typically pulverizing version of "Purple Haze." Here it is played with a feedback-drenched improvisational intro sequence that alludes to things that would surface in his "Star Spangled Banner" rendition the following summer. This sequence lasts several minutes before they actually fly off into the song. This was an amazing Hendrix performance from a time when Jimi wasn't yet plagued by outside forces. "Red House" and "Train" are a must listen for fans of his blues playing. Because these two songs have less bass and drum density than most of the other songs, they also conveniently sound the best on this remarkable 1968 audience recording.
-Written by Alan Bershaw