Jimi Hendrix / Otis Redding

At Monterey

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The time was, back in the late 1960s, that no one knew what to do with live rock performances. Record labels (especially the majors) were so wedded to studio perfection that even when they had important and marketable concert recordings on hand, they were usually overlooked when it came time to consider them for release. And in a way, who could blame them -- if an executive were to concede that a musician could cut a perfectly viable release in front of an audience, then what good were all of these record labels and the people who worked for them (executives, producers, engineers)? This odd LP was one of three releases from the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival that actually made it out to the public within a few years of the actual event (the others were the Mamas & the Papas live album, and Ravi Shankar's material). At the time, it made a lot of sense, in that both Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix had passed on, consequently any concert recordings by either were that much more valuable -- but as Otis had not done a long enough set to fill up an LP, he ended up sharing this post-humous release with Hendrix. Both sets have been remastered in superior sound in the decades since, and released as full videos, on VHS tape, laser disc, and DVD, so this album is purely of historic interest as an artifact of the time. But at the time it was a major release for both artists, offering Redding's transcendent performance in front of the largest single audience of his career, and a portion of one of the two best official live recordings of Hendrix's career. It's also interesting, when one finds them, that used copies often reveal the taste of the earlier owners, thanks to the diverging musical orientations of the two performers. There wasn't much overlap between fans of Redding and Hendrix, most listeners of the time confined themselves to one side or the other of the album in terms of going back for multiple plays; Hendrix was probably more widely listened to, and was better known among the college students who bought most rock LPs. But in terms of musical importance, the Otis Redding side now seems far and away the greater moment, as he was gone barely six months after this performance, whereas Hendrix had three years of life and performances ahead of him.

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