on July 6, 2005
First off, this is THE BEST Hendrix documentary and a really great film (5 stars!!!). But I'm really disappointed with the deluxe edition DVD, and give it 3 stars, mostly because of the newly cropped images.
The film was not originally shot in a panavision widescreen format. If you compare it to the older dvd that also claimed to be widescreen you'll see what I mean. The old "widescreen" dvd had black bars on the sides as well as top and bottom (to preserve the films original aspect ratio) so you saw the whole image floating on a black screen, which looked great. Now, Experience Hendrix has decided for whatever unnecessary reason to blow up the image and crop it to simulate conventional letterboxing (on the "Deluxe Edition" black bars are only on the top and bottom). It seems careless on their part to have done this because now some of the footage is missing certain details.
On the old DVD during the clip of Star Spangled Banner you could see Hendrix from head to toe, see the wah pedal, Fuzz Face, and Univibe on the stage in front of him and clearly see his feet working those pedals. Now due to bad cropping both his pedals and his feet are missing.
Jimi Hendrix pioneered the use of stomp boxes and guitar effects. It would have been nice to have kept the image of him working his pedals in the frame.
Another image that suffers from the new cropping is the classic scene of Jimi sitting on a stool playing Hear My Train a Comin' (as seen on the DVD case). Before he was in the middle of a white room and there was space all around him. Now it's tightly cropped with the edges being at the top of his hat and his shins. The scene looked much better on the old version.
On the positive side the audio is better compared to the old DVD release. But the extras are not great, as another reviewer stated, and definitely could have been better. Bottom line, if you have the old DVD don't feel you have to replace it with this one.
Especially if you want to see Hendrix stomping on that wah-wah.
on May 23, 2003
This is how a bio should be done! It's a nice treat to have a lineup including Little Richard, Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, and Mick Jagger provide first-hand recollections of times spent with Jimi. It's supplemented with generous screen time for his dad and 3 or 4 former girlfriends, which is entertaining. To top it off, there is incredible, well-produced footage of Jimi in concert and in the studio, and the live appearances span his career. You can actually see him morph from a wide-eyed young prodigy into an exhausted curiosity. You can even hear it in the short interview segments that feature Jimi himself.
This ran as a Friday night midnight movie for about 50 weeks in a popular New Orleans theatre in the early 1970's and became one of the hottest tickets in New Orleans (where brilliant musicians are truly appreciated) during its run. I saw it at least a half dozen times then, and it is still as riveting today. If you get it, you won't be disappointed, and it is the perfect introduction to anyone who is not familiar with the story of Jimi Hendrix.
on September 9, 2000
I remember taping this off the TV when I was fifteen (that's fifteen years ago, folks) because all my school mates trendily professed a great love of Hendrix, and I had never really understood what all the fuss was about. Let's face it, if you pull up a chair and listen to your average Hendrix record, it's pretty difficult to appreciate what's the big deal: his technique might have been groundbreaking at the time, but it's been a long thirty years in Rock 'n' Roll, and there have been a lot of guitar players producing a lot of pretty crazy stuff ever since.
But somehow, seeing it happen in front of you causes the scales to fall from your eyes, and the interviews with the likes of one-time girlfriend Fayne Pridgeon, two hilarious hipsters from Greenwich Village, Eric Clapton, an Elvis-suited, overweight Lou Reed and most amusingly of all, a heavily stoned and bechecked-suited Pete Townsend, make for a fascinating documentary which puts Hendrix's legacy slap bang back into context, and gives a fascinating window into life in 1973 at the same time.
But what is truly great about this documentary is how it sacrifices neither background context nor music: as well as the interviews there is no shortage of footage of Hendrix live and in the studio. The band's stunning performance at Monterey is well represented, with full takes of Hey Joe, the barn-storming version of Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone (Jimi adored Bob Dylan) and of course the famous guitar sacrifice during Wild thing are reproduced in full for your viewing pleasure. Also featured are legendary moments such as the Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock, the studio take, on twelve-string, of "Hear My Train A Comin'", and "Machine Gun" from the Filmore East show with the Band of Gypsies.
Away from his stratocaster Hendrix comes across as a surpisingly delicate, almost shy, figure. Asked in a chat show whether he recieved hate-mail following his "unconventional" rendition of the national anthem he looks genuinely baffled, and replies "what are you talking about? Unconventional? I thought it was beautiful" to an explosion of applause from the studio audience.
If, like I did, you missed Hendrix first time round, then you couldn't ask for a better primer now. Compulsive viewing.
on February 2, 2001
If you have any love for the guitar and Jimi Hendrix this is a must buy. Has awesome live shots of Jimi whaling, and very interesting interviews from some great musicians, along with some of his friends and his father (the Clapton and Townsend interviews were my personal favorates). It is the type of movie that you will watch many times over, so personally there is no way not to recommend this. The only thing that I could tell you is that if you are looking for just Jimi performances (although this one has a great many) without any interviews (because after a few time interviews do get annoying), then look at some of the recommendations on this page for other DVDs. But if your looking for a DVD with a pretty in dept view of Jimi, check this out.
"Jimi Hendrix" alternates between mostly uncut live performances of some of Jimi's best material and various interviews with Jimi's friends, family, and colleagues. When originally released in 1973, "Jimi Hendrix" was obviously a quickie exploitation film designed to cash in on Jimi's death; the grainy film stock of the interviews even suggests that it was filmed in 16mm rather than 35mm. Thankfully, the Hendrix estate has finally seized control of all Jimi's recordings and film appearances, so this DVD version is far superior to the old documentary many of us Hendrix fans grew up with.
For a start, over an hour's worth of interviews outtakes from the original film make an appearance as a bonus feature. The interviews are placed in rough chronological order, unlike the haphazard editing of the "Jimi Hendrix" feature. Thus, the viewer gets a better idea of Jimi's evolution from an eager sideman to one of rock music's truly magnetic virtuosos and brilliant composers. There's also an exceptional feature (again, cut from the "Hendrix film) with Jimi's engineer Eddie Kramer. Kramer plays with the faders at a mixing desk, explaining to us exactly how Jimi recorded "Dolly Dagger." Kramer isolates certain tracks, emphasizes how Jimi based arrangements around his own guitar playing, and discusses Jimi's overdubbing and mixing policies. It's very informative and useful, because Jimi's records were easily as revolutionary as his live performances.
All the concert scenes have been remastered by Kramer. We get to see Jimi at Monterey Pop, Woodstock, Berkeley, and the Isle of Wight. All of these are great shows that are worth seeking out in their entirety elsewhere, but it's a pleasure to have so many of Jimi's concert highlights in one place.
Again, while the "Hendrix" film itself is a disorganized mess, the excellent concert footage and the priceless bonuses make this a worthwhile DVD for any serious rock collector.
on December 10, 1999
This is an entertaing documentary that was theatrically released in 1973. It features classic live performances, plus many interviews, including Pete Townsend, Clapton, Little Richard, Mick Jagger, and many others. The DVD looks fine. It has the imperfections of the source film, but they're not too bad. One odd choice was to put the widescreen version on one side of the disk, even though the film is in the 1.33:1 ratio. The widescreen version ends up being a "four-sided letterbox." My advice: just play the full screen side.
on April 2, 2000
Originally released just two years after Jimi's death you get passionate interviews from the people who knew him. Featuring a young Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, and also people who knew him well, we learn a lot about Jimi. Also the concert footage is spectacular. I hope Experience Hendrix releases a DVD of the Monterey Festival (part of which is included on this DVD). What a great concert. This is a must.
on July 18, 2005
First off, for Jimi fans who collect the posthumous releases put out by the Hendrix family estate, this is a must have. This was the first cinematic effort at capturing the life of Jimi Hendrix though a combination of interviews and live concert footage. The interview clips are, for the most part, entertaining to listen to and watch. Some personalities are more colorful than others but with this new Deluxe version, you get even more interviews some of which should have been included in the original theatrical release. I really liked the interview with the road manager, Eric Barrett. The story he recounts about Jimi during the filming of Rainbow Bridge in 1970 is very funny! In addition to the extra interviews, you get the Atlanta Pop footage and Jimi's Stone Free! It's very good although Jimi's mood while performing at Atlanta Pop is difficult to gauge. He wasn't as "on" at Atlanta Pop as I'd say he was at Woodstock (if you can believe it) but Atlanta is considered a fairly strong show for Hendrix from the '70 period. The quality of the picture and sound is excellent.
In sum, get this for your Jimi DVD collection. It might be small now but don't worry, it will grow as the family continues to put out more live concerts of Jimi, in particular, the upcoming release of Jimi performing at the Royal Albert Hall on Feb. 24, 1969!!! That will be one of the GREATEST releases EVER!!!
on November 12, 2006
I'll confess up front that I have an emotional attachment to this movie which will color this review - I saw it several times at the cinema during my teenage years, and owned the soundtrack (which i played to death).
Having said that, this is the best Hendrix biography I've seen, & I've seen all of them (I think). The live footage is a cherry-picked selection of Hendrix's best onstage moments (and let's face it, if he only gave the world the ~2.5 mins of Monterey opener "Rock Me Baby", it would be enough), and as others have already said, the 12-string Hear My Train a'Comin' is the jewel in the crown.
The interviews are secondary, but they represent a fascinating snapshot of life in 1973. They are of Jimi's time (or close enough) and by those who knew him. They are incisive, contradictory, insightful, and quite often hilarious. Talking about Hendrix seems to bring out a sincerity and honesty in most of these people which is compelling. The "Ghetto Fighters" are great, and Little Richard is - well, Little Richard.
on July 4, 2003
In all fairness, this is a documentary of the musician's career, not a purely musical cd, therefore its producers are entitled to a presentation they deem relevant. However, what is a documentary about Jimi Hendrix if not his music? Some judicious cuts are made in the sometimes rambling monologues of the interviewees, notably Hendrix's father, and that's fine. Furthermore, the interviewees are smart and interesting, and between them manage to give us a straighforward, not fawning, portrait of a shy, complex genius. But several cuts have been made to music as well, and that's not fine at all. In fact, few tracks are complete (for instance, Johnny B. Goode lacks its terrific intro, and both Machine Gun versions are substantially chopped down) and a lot of Jimi's banter is gone as well; it may not have been crucial, but I, for one, enjoyed it. So, I'd say, for the visual effect, this dvd is priceless - and, inevitably, much sharper than the vhs version - but if you also want the complete music, every note of it, and if you're lucky enough to have the original double-lp, keep it! The album was never issued as a cd, although parts of it are doubtless strewn across the various sludge Jimi's estate keeps dredging out of somewhere to make a buck.