This is an Experience concert from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival (obviously) containing remarkably little music from either Axis or Ladyland – which they had already begun recording. Actually I don’t think there’s a single song from the latter. It’s a strong set and it shows off the Experience as a great live band, which is something we don’t always think of them as – or at least I don’t.
The opening version of “Hey Joe” is considerably looser than any I’ve heard before, opening with more than a minute of feedback and definitely showing signs that the band is getting tired of playing this song.
The version of “Foxey Lady” is a little more aggressive than the studio version and features more noodling by Hendrix than usual.
Then they cover a song called “Tax Free,” which I’ve never heard of, which is a rather mammoth jam featuring excellent – and feedback-drenched – paying from Hendrix. There’s even a rare Mitchell drum solo.
Then there’s a completely forgettable version of “Fire.”
And that’s followed by what seems to have been one of Hendrix’s favourite songs, “Hear My Train a Comin’.” (Listen to a Hendrix rarity compilation and there’s a good chance it’s on it. Jesus he played it a lot.) And this is not the last time you’ll hear Hendrix blow an amp. Apparently it happened a lot.
This is followed by a seemingly rather rote rendition of “I Don’t Live Today” that goes into full blown feedback at around the 4:30 mark and then they double the pace for his solo!
What you might call the centrepiece (or the climax) of the set is a 12 minute version of “Red House,” which should remove any doubt in the mind that Hendrix was only an okay blues guitarist or just an average lead guitarist.
A ragged performance of “Purple Haze” concludes the set and, again, Hendrix’s frustration at having to play the same damn songs over and over again is evident in his little detours off script.
The rest of the disc is fleshed out by two tracks they did for an afternoon show for the same festival. They’re nothing special.
On the whole, this is a great performance from Hendrix and the Experience. It shows off a very different side of theirs from the studio albums or, say, The BBC Sessions.
It’s worth listening to if you have any interest in Hendrix or if all you’ve ever heard of him live is Band of Gypsies, a very different record.