This is the last official album from Jimi Hendrix before his passing later on in 1970. Jimi was under enormous pressure by this time in his life. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was gone, and other personal issues with management were clear at this time.
Still, Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock live in 1969 and was still perfectly able to perform and make great music. This is his swansong and an effective one at that.
Let’s take a listen and see if Jimi Hendrix could do it live as well.
Who Knows – Live at the Fillmore East, 1/1/1970 – 1st Set begins with a funky guitar piece before bursting into a solid and good jam piece. It is a precise jam. There is some great soloing from Jimi Hendrix himself. It has some song-like qualities about it as well. It then bursts into a typical wah-wah solo by Jimi, whilst the rest of the band powers on through. Does Hendrix cut it live? The answer – yes, he does. Hard to imagine any pop act doing this sort of thing today. The singing is to and fro here, which adds excitement to this piece. A wordless melody is then sung, which is interesting. The volume of the songs drops down to a virtual whisper, with everything still going, then re-emerges brilliantly. These guys sound somewhat different in approach to the original Jimi Hendrix Experience but still work a groove. Mint.
Machine Gun – Live at the Fillmore East, 1/1/1970 – 1st Set begins with Jimi Hendrix wishing the audience a Happy New Year. After a short introduction, Hendrix gets his wah-wah on and does it in an expert fashion. The combination of guitars and pounding drums is a prototype for Metallica’s One. It then goes into a jam-band territory, with Jimi Hendrix playing his heart out. Jimi sings then over the top of the jam, with a perfect synthesis of lead and rhythm guitar. It evokes the memories of the Vietnam War, and Jimi Hendrix himself was not a war fan. A good subject of choice and an enjoyable listen. The guitar solo is mammoth, and Jimi Hendrix delivers very well. Some brilliant proto Floyd Rose style whammy bar work is here too. The machine gun sounding drums enter, and Jimi Hendrix plays the guitar very well. Only a true musical genius like Jimi Hendrix can pull this sort of thing off, and in superb fashion. After the solo, we enter a danceable slow tempo groove, with Jimi Hendrix singing over harmonies, great stuff. Hendrix’s guitar playing is out of this world. Some whammy work and harmonics are here before the guitar and drums bounce back. All in all, this piece is brilliant and is still great and fresh, 50 years on. It fades out with some heavy psychedelic playing and dive-bomb sounds, to loud applause. Great stuff.
The next song is Changes. It sounds highly psychedelic in terms of musicality. Jimi doesn’t sing this one, making it sound a little bit different. Jimi’s guitar playing here is superb. A great song, and well worth hearing. Tempo changes and other intricacies are here for us to enjoy, a great piece by the Band Of Gypsys. The palm-muted guitar parts are excellent. The crowd claps along to this number towards the end, which is magical. Underrated and special.
Following up is Power to Love – Live. It kicks off with some rhythmic lead guitar, before going into some sizzling hot guitar solos by Jimi himself. This piece is one of the more underrated Jimi Hendrix numbers. The riffs here are super catchy, and the band sound like that they are happy in a live environment. Great stuff. Jimi switches in between various guitar playing techniques and sound effects to grab our attention. He does this brilliantly. A nice live effort.
Message To Love – Live at the Fillmore East, 1/1/1970 – 2nd Set begins in a flash and sounds a little unusual here. All the band is on it musically. It’s another great example of Jimi Hendrix and company being able to play live, and very well at that. It is still almost like jam band material, but once the guitar solo erupts, it hits you very well. Good stuff from our main man guitarist here. It’s hippy stuff, but very good for that sort of thing. The ending is exciting.
We Gotta Live Together is the last song on this live album. Jimi and the Band Of Gypsys really do superbly here. It shows the group at their live best and is a must-listen for fans of Jimi Hendrix. The mix of vocals, precise guitar playing, fluid basslines and intricate drumming will blow your mind. The tempo change towards the end is awesome, and the loud cheers from the crowd at the end of this album are much deserved for Jimi Hendrix.
Is this album a necessary addition to your collection? Absolutely. It shows Jimi Hendrix in a great live music environment, and really enjoying himself at that. If there is any flaw in this album, perhaps some of the jams could be shorter. But there is more to love than hate here, many thanks to one of the greatest guitarists to walk planet Earth.