This is a review of the Disc 4 of The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set.  The tracks and live performances included on this installment of the box set are those representative of the second year of The Jimi Hendrix Experience; Late 1969 through late 1970 when Jimi passed away.  This is another excellent survey of the band that follows them through their Senior year.  There are live songs, alternate recordings, and unreleased songs.  An excellent variety here.

On to disc 4…

  1. Message To Love (Alternate Recording) – This song starts out lively and funky.  Jimi’s vocals are accented by high background vocals, which go well together.The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set Disc 4 Jimi’s solo work is flawless.  Jimi’s vocals are are loose but well structured on the song – the background vocals allow him to explore his range while the harmony is kept.  The drums are slightly drowned out but that’s understandable with this track being a showcase for mainly vocals and guitar.  The song ends abruptly in an almost cut off style.
  2. Earth Blues (Alternate Recording) – This track starts with a muddy guitar riff and drops into the full track with the drums and bass.  Background vocals make an excellent addition to this song, giving Jimi more freedom vocally.  Jimi’s vocals are in excellent form here.  Buddy Miles’ drum work is punchy and add’s life to the song.  The bass work by Billy Cox is powerful, masculine, and the guiding force of the song.
  3. Astro Man (Alternate Recording) – The song starts with Jimi reciting a poem type set of lyrics before his lead guitar work drops in along with the bass and drums.  Jimi’s guitar has a flange type sound to it – kind of an electric twang.  Jimi harmonizes with his guitar work throughout.  The bass guitar has a deep funk sound.  Jimi’s solo work is rugged and raw with distortion ever-present.  It’s easy to hear that this was a development track mainly meant for perfecting the material.  The song ends with Jimi asking “Was that fun?”
  4. Country Blues (Previously Unreleased Recording) – This track starts out with Jimi’s guitar solo work reminiscent of his live star spangled banner sound before Jimi brings the lead guitar riff to the forefront.  For several minutes, the simple, yet blues dripping bass riff provides Jimi with the foundation to explore the song with his electric.  Jimi’s guitar sound has a deep electric twang and sways through parts of the song in an almost spaceship like fashion.  The drums, while not a showpiece here, provide excellent rhythm and fills where necessary.  At times, Jimi’s guitar work is wondering and seems to hit a dead end as he jumps right back into another riff idea – an obvious development track.  This track is one of the instrumental gem’s that are a treasure to hear.  At about 6:15 into the song, Jimi let’s some fast finger work loose which then transitions into softer, harmonious riff explorations accompanied by a cool harmonica accent.
  5. Freedom (Alternate Recording) – One of Jimi’s liberating songs, which I feel was a symbol of his new found freedom from creative constraints on his music.  The track starts out with a high laced guitar riff before dropping into the main lead guitar riff.  Jimi’s vocals seem a bit low in the mix but are in good form, nonetheless.  The bass riff is the shining guide of the song, oozing funk into the track.  The drum work is snappy and simple.  The song fades out to conclude.
  6. Johnny B. Goode (Live: Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, Ca., May 30, 1970) – Jimi starts out talking the audience and doing a quick sound check asking the audience “Is it too loud out there, is it too loud?” before he launches into the lively riff of Johnny B. Goode.  Jimi’s vocals are excellent, albeit a bit straining to compete with the musical mix at times.  Jimi’s take on this classic is nothing short of amazing.  The drums are clear and crisp in the track, especially the symbol work.  The bass is less distinguishable in this song than usual but does add to the fullness of the mix.  Jimi’s solo work is well constructed and on point and tears through the track at times.  The solo work at the end of the song is a bit wondering but comes together nicely for the ending climax.
  7. Lover Man (Previously Unreleased Recording) – The guitar riffs starts the track off in a fast, alive tone.  Jimi’s vocals are excellent in both tone and quality and you can tell Jimi really feels this song.  The bass is funky and the drums are consistent.  Jimi’s guitar work is fast and shredding throughout the song.  The last minute of the song has a few points where it’s clear they are trying to find their groove in the song as a cohesive unit.  Jimi laughs and says “That was a perfect ending, good thing you were there” to close the song.
  8. Blue Suede Shoes (Live: Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, Ca., May 30, 1970) – This track starts off with Jimi’s lead guitar lick setting the stage for the rest of the song accompanied by constant bass work, and drums shortly thereafter.  This mix isn’t the best I’ve heard in that Jimi’s vocals seem to be turned down in the mix – Of course this could be a result of this being a live recording.  However, Jimi’s solo work shines bright here and has a fast flange effect to it.  The song concludes with Jimi’s guitar taking the stage in solitude and guiding the song to a fading close.
  9. Cherokee Mist (Previously Unreleased Recording) – This track starts with Jimi’s emotion laced guitar riff, which sings as if a voice.  The drums have a tribal sound style to them and accent Jimi’s guitar work perfectly.  The bass work is simple and provides good structure for the song.  An interesting track that sounds like a mix of something you might hear at a down south blues joint and a rock concert in a smaller, intimate setting.  Halfway through the song, everything stops, in what seems to be a planned reset to make the song more interesting – Jimi’s guitar work then takes over in a soft, yet beautifully singing way and guides the track.  This is one of Jimi’s finest instrumental compositions – variety, beauty, complexity.  The song comes to a close with the drums becoming more prominent in the mix and Jimi guiding the song out with the main riff.
  10. Come Down Hard On Me (Previously Unreleased Recording) – This song starts with a jerky and funky riff, which is shortly accompanied by Jimi’s vocals.  Jimi’s vocals have a demo-ish or unmastered sound to them.  Jimi’s guitar work is excellent and makes the song shine, especially when he starts soloing about half way through the song – gritty style which guides the rest of the song to a close.
  11. Hey Baby/In From The Storm (Live: Maui, Hawaii July 30, 1970) – This song starts with Jimi’s guitar murking through the track in a muddy, blues filled style.  Beautiful, emotional guitar work with a phasing effect.  This concert is infamous for not having the best sound quality which is really only evident in Jimi’s vocals, and which sound a bit muffled throughout.  The bass guitar and drums sound excellent, with an almost studio quality to them.  Jimi’s solo work is powerful and harmonious at the same time.  The last part of the song shows Jimi getting warmed up in both is rhythm and lead licks.
  12. Ezy Ryder (Alternate Recording) – This song has depth and you can hear the obvious multi-layers to the track.  Jimi’s vocals are powerful as is his guitar work.  The bass guides the song and the drums are tucked into the background.  The obvious stars here are Jimi’s vocals and guitar work.  An interesting song with multiple layers of Jimi’s vocals.  A perfect soundtrack song.
  13. Night Bird Flying (Alternate Recording) – The guitar work is very deep and has an excellent sound.  Jimi’s guitar and vocals are in perfect harmony here and you can tell Jimi’s mastery of the song.  The solo work has excellent variety and moves all over the track.  The bass and drums are at the perfect levels to accent Jimi’s composition.  The song ends with the instruments winding down in harmony.
  14. All Along The Watchtower (Live: Isle Of Wight, England, August 30, 1970) (Previously Unreleased Alternate Mix) – The drums and bass are of excellent quality in this track.  Jimi’s vocals are a bit muffled at times and his guitar levels out in distortion in a couple of places.  Jimi’s guitar work is gritty and excellent, adding rawness to the song.  The song ends with Jimi’s gritty rendition of the lead riff.
  15. In From The Storm (Live: Isle Of Wight, England, August 30, 1970) (Previously Unreleased Alternate Mix) – This track starts with prominent drums, which are joined by Jimi’s guitar work shortly after.  The bass is clear and constant, providing the guiding line of the song.  Jimi’s vocals, while excellent, compete with the musical mix of the song.  To be honest, I would say this track as a whole is not one of Jimi’s best live performances, but that’s solely because of the sound issues with Jimi’s vocals – the musical composition is in excellent form.  Jimi ends the song by saying “thank you for being so patient” to the audience, which may indicate there were sound issues that caused a delay.
  16. Slow Blues (Previously Unreleased Recording) – A short, bluesy instrumental riff that comes in at right under two minutes.  The bass is slow and funky and the drums simple and guiding.  Jimi’s guitar wonders through a set of bluesy turns.

This disc in the collection certainly has some great highlights.  There is a great selection of great sounding live songs which is nice.  There are also a couple of unreleased studio tracks which are excellent.  The best tracks on this disc are Message To Love, Earth Blues, Cherokee Mist, Ezy Ryder, and of course the instrumental Slow Blues, which is said to be the last multi-track recording Jimi ever recorded.  While not as powerful as the first disc, it’s certainly strong and comes in at 4 stars…

4 Stars Chris Elliott Rated

 

You can grab this disc and the rest of the collection at Amazon pretty affordably for a box set.  You can grab it through the Amazon link below and Amazon will kick me back a few cents if you found this review helpful…

Until the next review,
Chris Elliott Signature

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