Band of Gypsys
Reissued, Remastered, Live
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Band Of Gypsys (Live)
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Jimi's short-lived post Experience band with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, captured live at the Fillmore East. It may have been recorded to fulfill a contractual obligation to Capitol Records, but it proved to be one of his most powerful LPs with the menacing Machine Gun; Who Knows; Message of Love and more.
Tired of the showboating image that his early live performances had saddled him with--and that his black audience viewed as demeaning and degrading to his musical talent--Hendrix dissolved his Experience in 1969 in search of a more terra-firma-grounded, blues-oriented persona. On New Year's Eve, Hendrix, his old Army buddy bassist Billy Cox, and ex-Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles performed a loose, jam-filled set at New York's Fillmore East (completists will want the panoramic though uneven Live at the Fillmore East). Released a few months after his New Year's Eve 1970 concert, Band of Gypsys underscored Hendrix's desired return to basics--even if his basic was at a level most guitarists could never attain in a lifetime of playing. --Billy Altman
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"I love him"
I think he was happy to see this senior citizen listening to Hendrix. Kinda made my day. I think people will think Hendrix is cool even when this young guy is my age.
Then I went to work.
Recorded live at the Fillmore East on December 31, 1969, Band Of Gypsys (1970) was the last album that Jimi Hendrix personally authorized to be released before he died on September 18, 1970. The Band Of Gypsys was a new group put together by Jimi after he dissolved The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It consisted of Hendrix, Electric Flag drummer/vocalist Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox (Jimi's old Army buddy).
"...I'd like to dedicate this one to, uh, to the draggin' scene that's going on. All the soldiers that are fighting in Chicago and Milwaukee and New York. Oh, yes... and all the soldiers that are fighting in Vietnam. I'd like to do a thing called Machine Gun."
If for no other reason at all, get Band Of Gypsys for Machine Gun, an awesome twelve-minute guitar screaming electric storm that protests the violence in America and Vietnam during the 1960s. The song is really the main reason this album is getting a five-star rating from me. It features rapid-fire drumming and siren-wailing guitar feedback sound effects, and is quite possibly the greatest rock guitar recording ever made. Jimi cries out in pain from the perspective of a soldier being hit with machine gun fire.
Tearing my body all apart
Tearing my family apart
The rest of the album features then-new Hendrix material and two Buddy Miles songs (Changes, We Gotta Live Together). The atmosphere is 1969/70 in-the-streets-hip, socially aware and informally intimate. The opener, a laid-back and funky Who Knows, sounds a lot like a loose jam session with Jimi and Buddy trading lead vocals, and Jimi adding some nice effects-pedal guitar work. The soulful Power To Love and Message To Love highlight the fact that Hendrix was moving into a more thoughtful, and less flamboyant, direction with his music.
I said find yourself first
And then your talent
Work hard in your mind
So you can come alive
Jimi's guitar playing here is fantastic as always, and especially because most of the songs were new material at the time, Band Of Gypsys is essential to any Jimi Hendrix collection. I wouldn't start my Hendrix collection with this one, but don't leave it out, either. There are some classic Hendrix moments here.
Some say it's the beginning of the end, I cannot say that. It's good, solid blues, but I prefer hearing Hendrix rocking.
This is a six song collection, that is almost 46 minutes long. You get a lot of live jamming on this CD, which is mostly worth hearing. Vocals on "Who Knows" just annoy me; however, "Machine Gun" is excellent--good strong playing and one of my favorites of all his work.
I don't regret hearing this CD, but I think I'd rather remember Jimi rocking with the Experience than bluesing with the Gypsies.
Rebecca Kyle, May 2008