The last album that Jimi authorized prior to his death, Band Of Gypsys, is also an album of much controversy.  Recorded to satisfty a recording contract that Jimi signed prior to meeting Chas Chandler and forming The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Buddy Miles replaces Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox replaces Noel Redding on bass guitar.Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsys

This review is done on the German import version of the album which has 3 bonus tracks I love…

  1. Who Knows – Jimi takes lead vocals and Buddy Miles provides excellent harmonies. Jimi’s guitar work is raw and perfect. Jimi’s solo work is right on que and one can only imagine how incredible it would have been to hear this song live. The song has an up-tempo, raw rock vibe and Jimi’s signature guitar effects make the song awesome. Buddy’s vocals are clear and perfect in pitch and timing adding to the songs vibe. This song clocks in at nine and a half minutes which works well for the songs format.  Jimi’s guitar is constant throughout and towards the end he lets out some searing solo work.  The bass guitar here is not very noticeable.
  2. Machine Gun –  Jimi starts the song with “Happy new year first of all” and a bit more dialog to the audience.  The opening riff is just packed with emotion and is incredible.  Jimi’s finger rolls are in perfect form.  Buddy Miles contributes the signature Machine Gun style drums which are excellent.  Jimi’s guitar work is smooth.  His vocals are bluesy and follow the guitar riff well.  The drums accent the guitar riff and Jimi’s vocals perfectly.  Jimi alternates from blues vocals where he’s almost talking to outright emotional yells.  Jimi lets his guitar effects skill show throughout the song trying to recreate a sound indicative of a Vietnamese war atmosphere.  The longest song on the album at over twelve minutes doesn’t get boring or bland.  Billy Cox provides a thumping baseline that accentuates the Machine Gun style drums provided by Buddy Miles.  A combination of an excellent song and an experimental guitar workout make this one of Jimi’s most unique compositions.  The song ends with Jimi’s distortion and sound effects creating the sound of a helicopter taking off.
  3. Them Changes – A classic Buddy Miles penned song.  Jimi provides light hearted guitar via his signature finger rolls as Buddy provides out front drums and lead vocals.  Buddy’s lead vocals are beautiful and perfectly on key.  Billy Cox provides a solid foundation for the song with his bass work.  Buddy’s vocals remind you of old soul filled Motown vocals at times.  Jimi provides excellent guitar solo work which moves fast and almost has  a talkative effect on the song.  A little over halfway through the song, it comes to a crawl and them slowly gains more steam when the the crowds clap brings the song back to its final climax.  Jimi provides backup vocals to Buddy.
  4. Power Of Love – This song is a guitar driven track which starts off with Jimi’s guitar solo work skipping across the fretboard.  Buddy’s drums are crisp and perfect with the track.  Jimi’s guitar and Buddy’s drums stand out front on this track overtaking Jimi’s vocals a bit.  However, Jimi’s vocals are on que and harmonious.  Jimi’s guitar solo’s sing and scream throughout the song letting the listener witness his greatness as a guitarist.  Talkative vocals at times also follow Jimi’s guitar licks throughout the track.  Buddy Miles provides excellent background vocals and exchanges harmonies with Jimi toward the end of the song.
  5. Message To Love – A classic rock riff with excellent vocals by Jimi.  Billy Cox provides a guiding and funky baseline throughout the song.  Jimi’s guitar work is upbeat and his solos throughout transition well.  Buddy Miles provides well structured drums with strength.  Buddy’s background vocals accent Jimi’s lead vocals perfectly in a way that Noel Redding just couldn’t do.  Jimi’s solo work is slower than you may have heard on other songs but is still searing with a light hearted sound.
  6. We Gotta Live Together – Another Buddy Miles penned song.  Billy Cox gets the crowd into the song by saying “we’d like you to clap your hands one more time and sing with us” which provokes the crowd to instantly start clapping.  Buddy Miles vocals start out with an diverse R&B/rock sound which creates a unique sound on the track.  Although Buddy’s vocals seem to be a bit distant possibly do the misplacement of the mic because of him obviously not being the main vocalist in this concert.  However, Buddy’s vocals are excellent.  Jimi’s guitar licks throughout are mellow and ballad like in sound.  Jimi provides sparse backup vocals where needed.  Buddy’s drums pick up about halfway through the song to back Jimi’s searing guitar solo which rips through the track with Buddy still singing in the background.
  7. Hear My Train (German Import Bonus Track) – This song’s actual title is Hear My Train A Comin’ but was probably truncated to fit on the back CD cover on this import.  However Jimi says “we can call it Lonesome Train for right now”  in the introduction.  The song starts off in incredible blues fashion with Jimi’s blues guitar skill showing boldly.  Jimi’s vocals are blues ridden and mellow while also being overtaken by the drums and guitar at times.  The chorus shows Jimi’s vocals riding the lead guitar riff and then breaking into an incredible solo.  Jimi’s guitar work slows down in parts and lets off big displays of funk interlaced with the blues nature of the song. Buddy miles helps close the song out with background vocals.
  8. Foxy Lady (German Import Bonus Track) – One of Jimi’s all time classics here and this live version is awesome.  This guitar work is gritty and filled with Jimi’s signature distortion and finger rolls.  Jimi’s vocals are a bit drowned out by the instruments but they still work well.  Buddy Miles Machine Gun style drums are evident in this song and provide a new perspective on the drum work originally provided by Mitch Mitchell.  Probably the longest version of this song out there.  Jimi’s guitar solos are expanded versus the original which is a real treat.  The track ends with turbo speed finger rolls on the guitar by Jimi and machine gun style drum punches by Buddy Miles.
  9. Stop (German Import Bonus Track) – Another Buddy Miles penned song.  The song starts with a fast paced shot of guitar work by Jimi with Buddy and Jimi exchanging harmonies.  Jimi then drops into a funky guitar riff and solo.  Buddy Miles takes on lead vocals with Jimi offering background vocals at times.  Buddy’s vocals are loud and powerful.  Jimi’s solo work is medium paced and offers an excellent compliment to the song.  The song seems to cut off at the end with very little fade.

This album was the last one authorized by Jimi Hendrix and certainly came out excellent.  Machine Gun is the shining moment of the album and even at around 12 minutes, doesn’t seem too long.  Even as a live album, this song really stands out as a gem in the Jimi Hendrix catalog.  In all honesty, I might give the 6 track standard album 4 or 4.5 stars as a rating but with the 3 bonus tracks on the German import, this album gets 5 out of 5 stars.

5 Star Chris Elliott Rated

Versions…

I actually own this album two times.  One is the German import which has the 3 bonus tracks and one is a 2010 re-master that was released in the UK which has an expanded booklet with a long editorial by John McDermott of Experience Hendrix which this album has always lacked.

If you want to find the German import, you can check out eBay through this link and they will kick me back a few cents if you found this review helpful…

If you want to find the UK version, Amazon has it at a pretty affordable price.  Again, you can grab it at the Amazon link below and they will kick me back a few cents if you found this review helpful.

Lastly, if you just want to get the standard album without the bonus tracks or expanded bookelt, Amazon has it for around 10 bucks and it certainly still rocks.  Grab it through the link below and I’ll get a few cents from Amazon if you found this review helpful…

Until the next review,

Chris Elliott Signature

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8 Comments on Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys Review

  1. John says:

    Hi Chris. Thanks for the review. I had no idea this version existed, but after reading the above, I’m wondering about those bonus tracks. Looks like “Stop” is on Disc 2 of Live At The Fillmore East (1999), but I can’t say for sure if it’s the same version as the one you described above. Also, looks like “Fire” and “Foxey Lady” are on Disc 3 of West Coast Seattle Boy, but again, I can’t be sure about the versions. Do you know if the versions you describe on the German import are the same versions I’m describing here? I’m a collector, but if I can avoid shelling out $20, I’m keen on it. Cheers!

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for stopping by. I just pulled out my Fillmore East and West Coast Seattle Boy sets to compare and here’s what I found out about the bonus tracks on Band Of Gypsys…

      7) “Hear My Train” is the exact version released as “Hear My Train A Comin'” on the Fillmore East release.
      8) “Foxy Lady” is not the same version as the Fillmore East release – It’s unique to this release.
      9) “Stop” sounds similar to the version on the Fillmore East release but is shorter. I was unable to make a determination if it’s the exact song.

      I hear you when it comes to not wanting to buy extra items. Navigating the Hendrix catalog can be a messy situation if you consider all the releases that Michael Jeffery put out, all the bootlegs, all the Alan Douglas work, and all the off label releases. I had several releases from back in the 90’s and when Experience Hendrix recently remastered and re-released all of the official catalog with expanded liner notes, I decided to buy only Experience Hendrix releases, which includes the Dagger Records releases, and which does not include any Alan Douglas releases other than Blues. My collection is complete and Experience Hendrix is doing an acceptable job at releasing more music. Here’s hoping for another unreleased album like Valley’s Of Neptune and a second installment of the West Coast Seattle Boy collection this year! 🙂

      Good luck,
      Chris Elliott

  2. John says:

    “Hear My Train,” not “Fire.” Gah! My mistake.

  3. John says:

    Thanks Chris! I, for one, would love to see a deluxe expanded edition of the ’99 Fillmore East set that includes everything from both nights, warts and all, and in order. I’m looking at my Winterland 4CD set and thinking there should be a Fillmore companion to that.

    I have a few of the Dagger releases, but not all. I got into Jimi long before Experience Hendrix, so I had tracked down all the Alan Douglas stuff on LP and CD (where available). They’re fun to have, despite the dirty feeling that goes with owning them. The two versions of “Peace in Mississippi” (Voodoo Soup vs. Crash Landing) are fantastic. There’s some interesting stuff there, but yeah, it’s tainted.

    Jimi played my hometown of Muncie, Indiana on 27 March 1968. I’d kill to hear a tape of it.

    • I would like to see an expanded edition of Fillmore also. I do have the mp3s of all the Douglas releases for archive purposes, and it’s sad that the only studio version of Machine Gun we have comes from those releases. That is, unless you consider the Baggy’s downloadable bonus track that was recorded on a two-track from the BOG rehearsals.

      I tried to find a CD or download of that Muncie, Indiana set, but it appears that it may not have been recorded. I couldn’t even locate a set-list.

      If my Christmas wish for this year came true, Experience Hendrix would release another multi-disc rarities set similar to WCSB, another, album of unreleased studio tracks similar to VON, and the Royal Albert Hall recordings on CD. I get giddy just thinking about it…hehe.

      Chris Elliott

  4. roger says:

    Hello Chris I was looking to buy [BAND OF GYPSYS]the 2010 Label: Sony Bmg from Amazon or the Japan import. Can you tell me which one has the better sound? Thank you

    • Hi Roger,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I don’t have the Japanese release of Band Of Gypsys. I have the UK import and the German import. I just pulled out both the UK & German imports and the sound on the new UK release has the sound turned up in places. The German import still has excellent sound in comparison. Basically the UK version has increased volume, which you could do manually with the volume knob. However, the UK version is the only version of this album to have the expanded liner notes with additional information from John McDermott, catalog manager for Experience Hendrix – The German version has the three bonus tracks. For me, each is worth having.

      Let us know if there’s anything interesting on the Japanese release.

      Thanks!
      Chris Elliott

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