After having been released in a couple different configurations (not counting bootlegs), Jimi Hendrix's performance at the Isle of Wight Festival has been released yet again, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. Hendrix is plagued by equipment problems and audience expectations, and the entire festival had degenerated into something of a debacle by the time Jimi hit the stage as headliner. There is a loose, at times sloppy, feel to the proceedings, with Hendrix being pretty casual with the lyrics, particularly in "Spanish Castle Magic." Jimi had long since tired of playing his smash hits, even commenting at one point, "Y'all want to hear all those old songs, man? Damn, man. We're just trying to get some other things together." The problem was that much of the new material was under-rehearsed for a live setting, giving some of the newer songs like "Dolly Dagger" more of a jam feel. In addition, Hendrix's amplifiers are picking up transmissions from radio and security personnel throughout the show, which actually works well on "Machine Gun," but is distracting elsewhere. That being said, collectors will still be happy with this release. The sound is fantastic, and the packaging and booklet are filled with great photos. Jimi's guitar playing is superb in spots, and his wonderful sense of humor is on display throughout. The fact is that Hendrix died way too early, so any great-sounding, even mediocre shows will still be celebrated by fans for the moments of brilliance they contain. Band of Gypsys is still the first pick for live Hendrix, but those who crave more will be quite pleased with Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard