Jimi Hendrix - guitar, vocals; Noel Redding - bass; Mitch Mitchell - drums
This run of Jimi Hendrix concerts at Winterland, with Dino Valenti and then Buddy Miles Express opening, produced some of the most interesting Hendrix sets ever recorded. In mid 1968, as Hendrix had just released his monumental Electric Ladyland album, he began actively pursuing opportunities to jam with other musicians. He became more open to his improvisational abilities than at any other time in his all too brief career. These shows capture Hendrix at his most exploratory, expanding the boundaries of his music and open to adding other musicians to the mix - in this case with no rehearsals. This new approach would eventually spell the demise of the Jimi Hendrix Experience as a band, but for a brief time, would open up inspiring new possibilities within the music. These sets illustrate this new improvisational approach that Hendrix was beginning to explore. Without exception, these Winterland sets offer fascinating glimpses into Hendrix's thought process and the new approach he was taking to his music in 1968.
By the third night's early show, the band is totally comfortable and tosses out the basic set list, beginning the show with a sizzling take on "Fire" to get things going. An attempt at "Lover Man" follows. This tune is interesting but underdeveloped at this point. They begin hitting their stride with another expanded rendition of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." Even after a year of playing it, Hendrix doesn't seem the least bit tired of the song, and it contains his only passionate vocal of the night.
"Foxy Lady" is given a typical workout, but Hendrix seems a bit distracted. Equipment problems plague the beginning of "Tax Free" and although it's another nearly 20 minute version, half of it is Mitch and Noel having a bass and drum jam, while the crew attempts to fix Hendrix's guitar rig.
The "Hey Joe" and "Purple Haze" that follow are basically toss offs. While they are never less than exciting, the initial experimental energy has been lost and the group seems a bit anxious to end the set. They do just that with a short, sloppy "Wild Thing."
-Written by Alan Bershaw