Jimi Hendrix, Live at Woodstock (1969/2005)

by | Oct 13, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Jimi Hendrix, Live at Woodstock (1969/2005)

Studio: Experience Hendrix/Universal80005283-09 (2 DVDs)
Video: 4:3 full screen color & B&W
Audio: DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, DD 2.0
Extras: Second disc “A Second Look” is a B&W video of the entire
performance, with alternate camera angels filmed in color; Documentary
“The Road to Woodstock” – interviews with band members and Woodstock
promoter; Jimi Hendrix Press Conference; “Nashville Roots” –
Recollections of band members Billy Cox and Larry Lee; “Recording
Woodstock” – Engineer Eddie Kramer; Rare artifacts & Memorabilia,
Color booklet with photos and essay
Rating: ****

This definitive double-DVD package will captivate Hendrix fans for
sure, but may seem overlong and repetitive to the average appreciator
of Hendrix as being a seminal figure in rock, not to mention electronic
music. The deluxe edition is packed with materials and celebrates
probably the guitarist/ vocalist’s most famous live appearance of his
short career. Every tune his band performed at the l969 Woodstock
Festival in a very long set is seen and heard here, including some
which was missed by the crew filming in 16mm color because they had to
stop to re-load their two cameras. These portions – including the
entire blues Hear My Train A Comin,’  were recorded by an amateur
videographer using a consumer open-reel B&W CV videotape
recorder.  Some of it is out of focus and the picture loses sync
frequently, but since this is all there is of Jimi’s performance fans
will likely be glad to get it.

The documentary on the Road to Woodstock would be a good place to start
with this lavish package. It lays the scene for Hendrix’ appearance at
one of the largest assemblies ever of people for an outdoor concert.
His Experience trio was expanded for this occasion to quintet size plus
Hendrix, including two percussionists, a drummer, Billy Cox on bass
guitar plus vocals and Larry Lee on rhythm guitar.  The band was
Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. All the performer’s patter to the huge
audience is here – some of it poetic and moving, much of it of little
interest.  The concert comes to a close with Hendrix’ amazing
re-imagining of The Star Spangled Banner, followed by his signature
Purple Haze, and then a nearly half-hour-long medley/improvisation that
surveys several musical genres, including at one point what sounds like
an Elizabethan piece for lute! It was lucky the two cameramen hadn’t
run out of their stock of 16mm film and were able to capture all
this.  Eastman Kodak reported that it was perhaps the largest
amount of film footage exposed in the shortest amount of time.

Everything involved in the Festival was a last-minute
spit-and-bailing-wire effort. The PA and recording equipment was thrown
together and it was amazing it worked at all, according to the reports
of Eddie Kramer in the extras. He was brought in to mix both a new
stereo track and a 5.1 surround version of the DVDs. There’s some
distortion, as expected, and the drums don’t have the low end authority
they should, but after all this was an outdoor venue, and in general
the sonics are better than the visuals. This will be a treasured DVD
set that will surely take its place on many collectors’ shelves right
next to the recent Charles Cross biography of Hendrix, “Roomful of

Tracks: Message to Love, Hear My Train A Comin’ (on B&W disc only),
Spanish Castle Magic, Red House, Lover Man, Foxey Lady, Jam Back at the
House, Izabella, Fire, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Star-Spangled
Banner, Purple Haze, Woodstock Improvisation, Villanova Junction, Hey

– John Henry

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