Saturday, May 21, 2016

Jimi Hendrix - 1971 [1991] "Isle Of Wight"

Jimi Hendrix's August 8, 1970 set at the Isle of Wight festival in England resulted in two types of posthumous LPs in the 1970s: illegal bootlegs from various underground labels, and legal releases from Polydor. One of the legal releases that Polydor put out in England was Isle of Wight, a single LP that is consistently exciting but doesn't tell the whole story. Hendrix's performances of "Foxy Lady," "Lover Man," "Midnight Lightning," "All Along the Watchtower," "In from the Storm" and "Freedom" are excellent and made Isle of Wight well worth the price of admission when it first came out in 1971. But the LP is missing some of the other gems that Hendrix and colleagues Billy Cox (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) performed at the festival, including "Red House," "Ezy Rider," "Machine Gun," "Power to Love" and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)." In 1971, Polydor's British division should have made Isle of Wight a double-LP and released Hendrix's set in its entirety.

Recorded just weeks before his death, this is one of his very last concerts. Apparently there were all sorts of issues with the organisation of the festival, and there were equipment problems, the most obvious being them occasionally picking up the security's walkie talkies through the monitors. In some ways it's a bit of a disappointing finale to his career, he's seems a little tired or to be just going through the motions on much of this, maybe he was just getting tired of the band screaming out for Fire and Wild Thing, but at times the playing is as sublime as ever, and it's interesting to see how the band with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell continues to expand their style. Billy Cox makes the ensemble work much better than Noel Redding ever did, a fine example being where Hendrix sits out for some time on what is easily the longest of my 20 versions of Foxy Lady. The full set is available on the album "Blue Wild Angel: Live at The Isle of Wight" and I'm not sure why they didn't release a double album first time around. I don't think is necessarily even the best selection of songs from the gig so I'd recommend getting Blue Wild Angel instead. This isn't his finest performance, but they're all unique, so if you haven't heard it, and you're a Hendrixphile, you need to. 

Between August 26th and 30th 1970 half a million people gathered at East Afton Farm on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. It marked the return of Jimi Hendrix to the British stage for the first time in 18 months. What fans heard was the swan song of a genius and an era; 18 days later Jimi died in London.


1     Intro/God Save The Queen 3:00
2     Message To Love     6:26
3     Voodoo Chile     8:01
4     Lover Man     3:25
5     Machine Gun     12:37
6     Dolly Dagger     5:32
7     Red House     11:10
8     In From The Storm     4:20
9     New Rising Sun     7:31


    Bass – Billy Cox
    Drums – Mitch Mitchell
    Guitar, Vocals – Jimi Hendrix