Jimi Hendrix

Live at Woodstock

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In August 1994, MCA Records released Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock, a single-disc collection of highlights from Hendrix's legendary closing set at Woodstock. Less than a year later, Al Hendrix won the rights to his son's recordings, and his company, Experience Hendrix, began reissuing definitive masters of Jimi's catalog. In the summer of 1999, Experience Hendrix rolled out Live at Woodstock, which features the entire set over the course of two discs. Hearing Hendrix's complete concert isn't as revelatory as you'd think, since it just emphasizes that he overcompensated for his under-rehearsed band by jamming. And does he ever jam -- almost everything clocks in at over five minutes, with a couple weighing in at over ten minutes. Naturally, this will hardly be seen as a detriment by legions of Hendrix fans, and that's who this set is for. Listening to all of Live at Woodstock takes dedication and an active interest in the subtleties of Jimi's playing. He had disbanded the Experience only eight weeks before and was teamed with players who wanted to follow him, no matter where he went. Unfortunately, the lack of rehearsal meant that they were often striving to keep up with him; in turn, Hendrix runs wild, spinning off dizzying solos that are as fascinating as they are frustrating. Taken individually, these performances are usually enthralling, but Live at Woodstock will exhaust the average listener. Which is not to say it isn't a worthwhile experience. As a historical document, it is interesting and revealing, and Hendrix historians undoubtedly will find several of these performances necessary. But this not an essential addition to the average fan's library, simply because Hendrix blew minds at Woodstock through excess, not focus.

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