Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally avail

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Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally avail

Postby srvlives » Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:06 pm

At last fans of rock's greatest guitarist can see the full two hours of his legendary set at Woodstock, writes Robert Sandall.

For once, "legendary" really is the word. The performance by Jimi Hendrix and his band that closed Woodstock in 1969 has been cited as one of the highlights of the festival, of Hendrix's career, of the decade - you name it. His feedback-racked solo rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner was described by the rock critic of the New York Post as "the single greatest moment of the 1960s".

That this epoch-defining blast of sound was witnessed by a bleary-eyed fraction of the 800,000 who made it to Max Yasgur's farm in New York State seems to have burnished the legend. Due to a weekend of overruns, most had left by the time Hendrix arrived on stage nine hours late on the Monday morning. The movie Woodstock, which featured a 10-minute segment from a set lasting nearly two hours, is all most of us have seen.

Now, a mere 36 years after the event, Hendrix's Woodstock show can be viewed in its entirety on a new double DVD. This film of Hendrix in full flight is the most comprehensive concert document of him in existence. As well as the footage shot but not used by Michael Wadleigh for his Woodstock movie, there's another disc of extras including a videotape surreptitiously made by a 22-year-old drama student from the side of the stage. It shows in fascinating close-up the signals, nods and glances with which Hendrix guided his new band through their first big gig.

For the army of fans who never got the chance to see Hendrix live - because barely a year after Woodstock he was dead - this is as close to the heart of the matter as they will ever get.

Aside from the virtuosity and the spectacle - including proof that Hendrix really could play the guitar with his teeth - what is most striking about the performance in full is its kaleidoscopic shifting of mood. Blisteringly loud and precise versions of Voodoo Chile, Purple Haze and Spanish Castle Magic give way to softer, loosely structured jams in which Hendrix seems almost to drift away, his eyes closed and long fingers skipping up and down the fretboard. In between, there are some new songs, relaxed R&B workouts such as Lover Man and Izabella, which sound more like jams with choruses than finished tracks.

Then, two-thirds of the way through, there's the sudden, mad grandeur of The Star-Spangled Banner, perhaps the most melancholy tune he ever played.

Although the Band of Gypsies had been together for only a month - following the break-up of the Jimi Hendrix Experience - the new six-piece formation keep up pretty well with their mercurial leader. They look as if they are enjoying themselves, too.

On the phone from his home in Nashville, one of them, Billy Cox, says he met Hendrix when they were both in the 101st Airborne Division in 1962. They played together on and off, before Hendrix moved to London and got back in touch after Noel Redding left the Experience. Cox is keen to clear up a few myths "because Jimi Hendrix is like Elvis, or the Beatles: surrounded by outrageous folklore".

He is particularly dismissive of the tale that Hendrix hadn't slept for three days before his gig at the festival because of, well, you know what. "No, no, no. That whole drug culture thing that has been loaded on poor old Jimi Hendrix's back was not the way it was. You can't do all that and play the way he did."

According to Cox, the night before going on, they had tinkered around on acoustic instruments then slept for about five hours in a house near the stage. No drugging or boozing. "Jimi was upbeat, he was energised. We were tight, on the same vibe."

Hendrix's most impromptu move at Woodstock, Cox reports, was The Star-Spangled Banner. The band had heard him play it around the house but had never rehearsed it with him and although Cox says he tried to keep up for the first eight bars, he stopped when he realised that "Jimi was off on one".

Three years of rock stardom hadn't changed his old friend, Cox says. "He was the same guy, a good person, very spiritual, with wisdom beyond his years. And very funny. He always managed to overcome his problems with his sense of humour."

The biggest problem Cox encountered came not from the band's leader but from his management. "The office did not want our group to exist, mainly because it was too black." By now, four out of six of Hendrix's band were African-Americans, and deemed an iffy proposition in business terms for the white rock audience of the time. But Woodstock loved them. When the Band of Gypsies finally left the stage about 11am, their mood was buoyant. Legend has it that Hendrix promptly collapsed with exhaustion.

"Bullshit!" says Cox. "We all drove off to a little joint down the road for a hamburger."

Telegraph, London

Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock (The Deluxe Edition) is out now on Universal-Island.


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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby nizer » Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:06 pm

Wow that is so cool. When I first saw Woodstock (the movie) I was completely blown away by that segment, like so many others were. Decades later when I saw the movie again the only performances that held up for me were that and Santana.

Jimi was a complete genius, astounding. Like RJ, gone way to soon. I'd love to see that DVD.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby savage » Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:18 am

been wantin to buy that dvd for a while. Just picked it up today. Awesome. I really loved the whole jam. Thats what it was and it was sweet. I had never heard that song Villanova Junction before. Thats a really nice tune. Jimi's been my all-time favorite for quite some time. Great musician.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby johnny66 » Mon Oct 03, 2005 2:45 am

I think this is all hype. I've seen the full concert, and whilst there are some definite highlights, it's not good at all. The band were under-rehearsed, playing meandering jams and with no real way of blending all the instruments together. No doubt it was an important experiment for Hendrix, but apart from 'Voodoo Chile' (and the guitar instrumental) and 'Star Spangled Banner' (which was a regular feature at Hendrix concerts well before Woodstock) the concert is not one of Hendrix's better moments - and he was the first to admit it.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby savage » Mon Oct 03, 2005 3:08 am

you are right johnny66, it wasnt one of his best performances. However, I liked watching this "experimental" concert as it took place while he was in the process of changing his sound. The mechanics of the concert as a whole I admit were not really spectacular if you must get technical, lol, but it was his first time playing a real concert with the band. And i agree again, that most of the "glory" of this concert was mostly "hype" (but, then again, so are most rock n roll concerts). From a artistic point of view, i found it to be an interesting recording as it featured the first steps with a new band.

I don't see the concert as a monumental lapse in music (which is how every rock n roll concert is described by at least one person), I saw Jimi Hendrix playin with his new band who didnt have most of the set rehearsed, and I thought their sound came across pretty good.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby ricochet » Mon Oct 03, 2005 3:39 pm

>I don't see the concert as a monumental lapse in music
>(which is how every rock n roll concert is described by at
>least one person

bf?

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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby savage » Mon Oct 03, 2005 7:27 pm

um... what? lol
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby cas » Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:37 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Oct-03-05 AT 06:38 PM (EST)]It's ok Savage...Ric's not cussin' at you. I think he's looking for Badfinger's take on this?

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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby ricochet » Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:46 am

I figured bf was probably the one who said that.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby savage » Tue Oct 04, 2005 1:53 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Oct-03-05 AT 09:55 PM (EST)]haha, ok-- i thought thats what you meant at first, but i didnt see any post by badfinger

dunno if he said that, just with my experience with concerts...they ALL stir up some big hype--- every last one. May not be with everyone, but every concert has some fans.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby david » Tue Oct 04, 2005 2:53 pm

This discussion raises a question: What IS the best video of a Hendrix performance available?

Please explain your preference and provide supporting data.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby rustyslide » Tue Oct 04, 2005 5:18 pm

I've got the double Live-At-Woodstock album, and it's pretty rough, but some songs are just stellar. I love the opening of Hey Joe, which Jimi introduces as "Valleys of Neptune" or some such.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby savage » Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:54 pm

>This discussion raises a question: What IS the best video of
>a Hendrix performance available?
>
>Please explain your preference and provide supporting data.

well, a while before woodstock i think he began to concentrate more on the music (and drew back from his "performance" on stage)... probably thought it would be a distraction. Personally, while i always thought his mannerism on stage was entertaining, i never tried to measure it against his music. So I guess it depends what you consider a performance.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby david » Thu Oct 06, 2005 2:46 pm

I'd prefer a film of him playing his non-hit music while sitting on a stool, with camera close ups of what he is doing. Perhaps with some dialogue between songs about where the music came from and how he is getting a guitar to sound that way.

Given that such does not exist, what is the next best thing. I have to admit, I got a kick out of seeing a film of him playing Voodoo Child (slight return) live and ending up on the stage floor with his eyes rolled back in his head. But, I think I was about 19 at the time, and just about as stoned as he was.
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RE: Hendrix's Woodstock performance finally a

Postby savage » Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:21 pm

the only close-up film recorded that ive seen david is him playin Hear My Train A Comin... Which I thought was pretty cool.
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