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Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/1969 CD (album) cover


Jimi Hendrix



3.58 | 10 ratings

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3 stars Contracts, conflicts and confusion. This pretty much sums up the Band Of Gypsys (Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles and Billy Cox) first set performed and recorded on December 31, 1969 at the now legendary Fillmore East. As many Hendrix fans know, this was the premier live outing of Hendrix's new vehicle that is claimed to have put him back into the arena of black music after two years of Hendrix vehemently dodging the long held stereotype that black guitarists could only play the blues and R&B. Both genres in which Jimi cut his teeth both on an amateur and professional level, before skyrocketing to international stardom playing feedback drenched acid rock and psychedelic with an accessible pop vibe as part of the famous Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Experience also featured white British cohorts in the form of bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchel. These four Fillmore concerts recored in two days were also a means for Hendrix to honor a contract dispute and eventual settlement to deliver a album to PPX/Capital Records as part of a court settlement.

Hendrix's motivation to go into a soul, R&B, funk, and blues direction is manifold and frankly, quite speculative. However, it's the 1969 Band Of Gypsys album that has solidified his long time standing as a blues guitarist of renown, regardless if the capricious Hendrix had possibly not intended to keep pursuing that musical direction had he not perished.

This first set on the first night of the Fillmore New Year's Eve concerts is basically a run through of Hendrix's newer, if not brand new songs, and the introduction of Buddy Miles as an R&B force, both vocally and musically, in the newly formed Band Of Gypsys.

With out a doubt, this first set is subpar to what has been officially released on either the Band Of Gypsys LP and the additional material released much later on Live At The Filmore East in 1999. Sticking out glaringly is that the magnificent solo on the song "Machine Gun", recorded the second night and released on the Band Of Gypsys album, is nowhere to be found on this first night's jittery performance and that Buddy Miles, as rock steady as is his drumming is, is a bit over the top with his "soulful" backing vocals on songs such as "Power Of Soul." In fact both "Power of Soul" and "Message to Love" would be both be better performed on the Band Of Gypsys album. Another glaring omission is any form of the powerhouse song "Who Knows", which was not to be performed until the second set of the first night's shows and done better on the following day's sets. Songs featured on this first set such as "Hear My Train A Comin' and" Isabella" are perfunctionary at best.

Where the confusion comes in is on the part of the subdued audience, their unfamiliarity with Hendrix's new material and his refusal play past well known hits like "Purple Haze" and "Foxy Lady." He would do so shorty later on the second of the night's set as more than likely, it was in reaction to Hendrix's own startled response when a member of the subdued crowd wished him a Happy New Year. It's seems that Jimi forgot.

Imagine that. New Year's Eve in NYC and the Band Of Gypsys sounded like they just finished playing at a wake. Stick with the Band Of Gypsys album form 1969 and seek out the now out of print Live At The Fillmore East CD from 1999, as both feature far superior performances. And keep Machine Gun: The Filllmore East First Show only for it's historical value. If you're of a mind to.

SteveG | 3/5 |


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