The Berkeley shows by Jimi Hendrix are fairly well known because not only were the shows filmed, but they have been bootlegged pretty extensively over the years as well. Live at Berkeley: 2nd Show marks the first official release of this material, and, like its predecessor, Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight, the show has its strengths and weaknesses. Things start loose, very loose, on "Pass It On," which is actually the music from "Straight Ahead" with some off-the-cuff lyrics, then into "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)." Hendrix's guitar tone is fantastic, and there are some fine moments of soloing, but as far as the songs go, he seems distracted. Things start to pick up with "Lover Man" (check Billy Cox's bass playing here), and Hendrix really seems to find himself while romping through some older material like "Stone Free" and "Hey Joe." In fact, the solo on "Stone Free" is amazing, and quite unlike other live versions. It's clear that all the guitar electronics were working together (despite the brief security interruption on "Hey Joe"; again, shades of Isle of Wight), and by the time he gets into "I Don't Live Today" and "Machine Gun," Hendrix is in the stratosphere. The intensity drops just a bit as he finishes up the set, drifting into "Keep on Groovin'" while in the middle of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," but "Purple Haze" and "Foxey Lady" are still strong showings. The official release of more Hendrix archival material is not likely to ease his reputation as an inconsistent performer, but those who rightfully regard him as one of the finest electric guitarists ever will always be clamoring for good-sounding live shows, and Live at Berkeley: 2nd Show will not disappoint at that level.
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard