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4.8 out of 5 stars
Band of Gypsys
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92 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It was almost symbolic that Band of Gypsys was recorded on New Years Eve 1969/70. Jimi Hendrix had recently discarded his power trio, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and formed the Band of Gypsys with bass-player, Billy Cox and drummer, Buddy Miles. Whereas the Experience exemplified the grinding, baroque, psychedelic rock that largely defined the sixties, the Band of Gypsys exemplified the melodic, groove-heavy, socially and spiritually conscious funk that would largely define the seventies. This live album was the first Hendrix fans heard of the guitarist's new project. Most would not be disappointed. Hendrix's new style nicely sustains the absolutely wicked, inventive guitar-playing from which his reputation was born. His fluid, wavy, hypnotizing jamming scampers through the six tracks, becoming slightly overdone on the nine-minute "Who Knows" and the thirteen-minute "Machine Gun." Still, small sections of unstructured noodling can not stop "Who Knows" from excellently setting the album's funky tone or "Machine Gun" from being one of the most intense, dramatic and stunning songs inspired by Vietnam (Only Hendrix had the ingenuity and skill to make his instrument screech like a battlefield). The two other Hendrix-penned tracks, the groove-rocker, "Power to Love" and the fervent "Message to Love" are two of his most spirit-inspiring works and nicely showcase the Gyspsys' rapid-fire arrangements. Buddy Miles does more than keep the band steady with his fast-paced trouncing, he also contributes two excellent foot-stompers, "Changes" and "We Gotta Live Together." Miles himself would go on to become a star of the upcoming funk/soul movement. Hendrix, tragically, would not live to see it. The artist would die of asphyxiation shortly after Band of Gypsys was released. Sadly, for Hendrix, this funkrock showstopper was not a sign of things to come, but a passing of the torch.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Despite having a few songs jamming well over six minute mark, and with Jimi not even taking lead vocals on two cuts, I STILL rate this as an excellent, must have, Hendrix album.

What I'd like to do though is emphasise how much I enjoy the playing of Cox and Miles, as they're such a great rhythm section here - those guys are really cooking!

What's always bugged me though - I've read some quite dismissive reviews of Miles' playing on this record, and it's unjust. Compared to Mitch Mitchell he just plays clean and funky - he doesn't need to work it like Mitch, because he doesn't have to! He has a style here of his own and a sense of rhythm few can match!

If you haven't got this record, buy it now!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
I remember when this lp first came out;my baby-sitter used to play it on the stereo all the time.So nice to hear it mastered on CD.'Band Of Gypsys' is a 6 song/45 minute live performance that was recorded on New Year's Eve 1969-70.It's line-up is not to be missed:Hendrix on guitar&vocals,Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums.I specially dug "Who Knows",the nicely flowing "Power Of Love",and the two Miles compositions "Changes" and "We Gotta Live Together".If anything,this disc PROVES there'll never be another Hendrix.A really memorable listening experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 31, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is the Sony Legacy/Hendrix family re-release of the only widely available recording of Hendrix's `Band of Gypsys', recorded over four concerts on 31st December 1969 and 1st January 1970 at the Fillmore East. Fans of Jimi's music will know that this experimental trio replaced `Experience' members Noel Redding on bass with Jimi's ex-Army buddy Billy Cox, who had by this time been playing and rehearsing with Jimi for several months; and Mitch Mitchell on drums with Buddy Miles.

The content of this CD is indistinguishable from previous CD releases, but for legal reasons this is now the only version you can buy new. It has a cardboard sleeve in place of the traditional plastic CD box, and the tell-tale amber-and-purple square sticker on the front: otherwise everything is the same.

The Fillmore concerts used some of the `Experience' numbers as time-fillers, but none of Jimi's previous recorded material appears on this album; only the new stuff. This collection has a more soulful - some say `funky' but it's not really anything like 1970s `funk' - feel to it, and both Jimi and drummer Miles share the vocal work. In contrast to the psychedelia and playfully imaginative song themes of the `Experience' years, the song lyrics on BoG lean towards the political and socially-aware. This is especially true on the star track of the album, `Machine Gun' on which Jimi actually makes the sounds of full-on 20th century warfare with his fender, as he pleads for humanity to the machine-gunner; for context to younger readers, this was during the Vietnam war which was a VERY big deal politically at the time, filling the TV news around the world night after night and inciting violent mass protests all over America.

Buddy Miles shares the compositional credits. `Changes' became one of his best-known numbers, though without the full-on brass section used in many later renditions you have Jimi's guitar with wah-wah delivering the main theme.

BoG was a short-lived combo, the only time Jimi played with an `all black' band (the USA in particular in the 1970s was much more politicised along black-and-white racial lines than our multi-ethnic, mixed societies allow for in the 21st century). Billy Cox however continued to record with Jimi throughout 1970, and contributed to some of his career-best material originally released on the `Cry of Love' album and now available on the excellent `First Rays of the New Rising Sun' CDs. Jimi parted company with Buddy Miles in February 1970, and Mitch with his more jazz-drummer style returned to offer rhythmic support for the remainder of his tragically short career.

Overall BoG is essential to any Hendrix collection. We should never lose sight of the fact that like the three `Experience' albums, this album was released on 12-inch vinyl pretty much as you can buy it now, in Jimi's lifetime and with his approval.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
THe songs are not as good as the Experience ones and the scat singing Buddy Miles can be a little annoying (I also prefer Hendrix as even a singer over him)... nonetheless, this is vital Hendrix and the guitar is stellar. Hendrix continued to soar and improve as a guitarist (though it's hard to imagine the best electric guitarist improving...) and it's really sad that we lost him, and who knows what places he would've taken us to had he lived longer:(
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This album contains some of the most inventive, jaw-dropping, other-wordly guitar playing you will hear. Read more of the other reviews about this, because I have a problem with this album that I wish to discuss: Buddy Miles' singing. I personally find it really annoying, and it takes away from the album as a whole. I guess scat singing really isn't my thing. Now don't let this stop you from buying the album, since the music is absolutely amazing (I do enjoy Miles' drumming very much, by the way) and Machine Gun in particular is just unbelievable. I just wanted to send out a warning about something that I wasn't expecting and something that not too many reviewers mention.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Some of the best Hendrix from the "Band of Gypsys" era. This is my favorite band highlighting Buddy Miles and his drive and power. Power Trios are so rare and Jimi's formations are a classic study of this, rarely well executed, musical grouping. All the songs are Hendrix classics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Yes this is the funkiest Hendrix you will ever hear. The rhythm section of Buddy Miles on drums and Billy Cox on bass are steady and grooving and force Hendrix into a more funky, rhythmic vein. There's great guitar playing on the stand out track "Machine Gun." Definitely the best version ever recorded. It's other worldy, both primitive and science fiction modern at the same time. Other highlights are the spacy avant-funk rock of "Power To Love" and the groove of "Message To Love." Hendrix plays some truly smoking and swinging leads on every song, and Buddy Miles background vocals add a great deal to the atmosphere of Hendrix's music. Now on the somewhat questionable aspects of this album: Buddy Miles sings lead on two songs. His song "Them Changes" is good R&B with some very nice Hendrix guitar and bass playing by Billy Cox. But the vocals are a bit over the top and bombastic. Buddy's other vocal showcase "Who Knows" while very good, goes on WAY too long. Extending the song with vocal solos may have worked live but listening to the CD it gets boring and seems a bit self indulgent. I don't want to listen to the vocal stylings of Buddy Miles, I want to hear Hendrix. It's perhaps due to Buddies vocal histrionics that Hendrix fired him soon after these concerts.

Buddy's vocals notwithstanding, this is a very good CD with some of the best and unique live Hendrix you're ever gonna hear. Pick up the "Live at the Fillmore East" also to get a more complete picture of these concerts, ie alternate recordings and many songs that weren't released on the original version. There is also a Band of Gypsys version that has several bonus songs in addition to the original Capital album, that's the one to get. I'm giving this 4 stars because of the albums brevity and Buddy's singing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is a good album even thou gh Jimi was not really happy with it. It is definitelly much better than the double cd called "live at the filmore east". Machine Gun makes it worth it, also Power of soul and Message to Love contain some of Jimis best guitar work ever. Buy the album It's a must. But also keep in mind that it was done to pay back Ed Chalpin for Jimi escaping to a different producer/label. Jimi was not really happy about it's release. It's much better than any of the crap that Ed Chalpin has released featuring Hendrix.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Thankfully Hendrix captured his brief stint with a more homegrown blues-rock pair in this 1970 New Year's concert slice. It starts out a little unbalanced, which is to say that the first two songs seem to always dominate the mix, cutting through any fat, right to the purity of an unhinged solo. Despite that, the less jam oriented, though equally funky majority reveals a worthy vocalist in Miles and tight southern rock which unabashedly rocks to a demographic marketing restrictions would have excluded prior.
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