My admiration for Jimi Hendrix is well documented through several reviews, covering nearly his entire studio catalog and several live releases exhumed from the vast archives of the Experience Hendrix organization. Headed up by Jimi’s sister Janie now (Jimi’s father Al is deceased), they do a marvelous job of preserving and reissuing recordings of music and films spanning the career of the guitar legend. It seems as though they will never run out!
Jimi Plays Berkeley gets propelled from 1970 into present day with the superb Blu-ray DVD technology. Jimi’s two sets at Berkeley Community Theater Saturday May 30, 1970 are forever immortalized on this captivating disc including several other additions that were not available before. Also available are the regular DVD version and CD of the performances. The kicker for the both DVD’s for audiophiles and Hendrix freaks alike is the 5.1 surround sound version of Jimi’s second set. In addition to that you can view footage of some of the protests caused by political unrest and the Vietnam War in the streets of Berkeley set to the rocking sounds of “Machine Gun.”
The package now includes a digitally restored transfer from the original 16mm negative and more than fifteen minutes of newly discovered, previously unseen documentary and performance footage of such classic songs as "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," "Machine Gun" and "Hear My Train A Comin'," which was not featured in the original film release.
The film quality definitely gets a face lift and there are points during the Hendrix performance when you can see beads of sweat on his face almost as if you were there. Considering how old the footage is, this is quite an accomplishment to be able to notice that kind of detail. Although this is a must have in any music collection, particularly if you enjoy the music of Hendrix and or guitar oriented blues infused rock, there are some things that you may find annoying. The one thing that always got me was the shaking camera or up and down action. You have to wonder if they did that on purpose for effect in those days or was everyone tripping on LSD? If they could fix that the film would be a near slice of perfection. This kind of thing is present in plenty of old concert films, not just Hendrix material. That is the one thing that is the thorn in my side with these releases but other than that I love to watch the performances and understand the significance of what I am viewing. From the perspective of a critic, music fan or Hendrix enthusiast, the reaction I think would generally the same, give us more!
I never seem to tire of hearing the same tracks, “Star Spangled Banner,” “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” because they are always different. Hendrix had the incredible artistic vision and talent to improvise within every one of his songs. I can honestly say I have always noticed both subtle and major changes in performances on audio and DVD disc and for that reason my hunger for the music of Jimi Hendrix has never diminished.
Key Tracks: Star Spangled Banner, Purple Haze, Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Founder MuzikReviews.com
July 15, 2012