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Issue: October 2011
Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix in the West and Winterland (Sony Legacy, www.legacyrecordings.com)

These two releases expand on the prior versions, a boon to fans. In the West has been out of print, and as newly issued substitutes some takes of songs from the LP with other versions, while adding newly released material. "Voodoo Child" is a standout here. This includes the Jimi Hendrix Experience as well as other groups led by the guitarist who, in many ways, revolutionized guitar playing. Winterland , originally a single CD in 1987, is now a 4-CD set, with lots of photos and an essay by respected Rolling Stone writer David Fricke. A caveat: one apparently knowledgeable reviewer on Amazon points out that some songs as presented here have been edited oddly, with solos missing from some pieces. Even if this is true, the set still is worth having for a look at how, like a jazz musician, Hendrix could do the same song two or three nights in a row, but with fresh improvisation and musical nuances. Some of my favorite material comes on Disc Two, from October 11, 1968, where Buddy Miles' flutist Virgil Gonsalves adds a different flavor to "Are You Experienced" and more. Drummer Mitch Mitchell's jazz background comes through clearly, as on most songs he does not merely keep time but solos as one-third of a band, prodding Hendrix and bassist Noel Redding. While expected tunes such as "Foxey Lady" are here, so too are such relative rarities as "Spanish Castle Magic" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." There is also a 19-minute interview, displaying Hendrix's wise beyond his years appreciation for his influences and his focus on creating something unique. A single-disc "Best of Winterland" compilation is available, but Hendrix fans will probably want all the live material they can get.

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