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Jimi Hendrix - Band Of Gypsys CD (album) cover

BAND OF GYPSYS

Jimi Hendrix

 

Proto-Prog

3.80 | 76 ratings

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jimidom
4 stars Band of Gypsys was the project that marked Jimi Hendrix's return to soul music as well as the beginning of newfound spiritual enlightnment. For those expecting to hear the acid-tinged works of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, there is only but a little resembling "Third Stone From the Sun" or "Purple Haze". There is instead much more of an emphasis on the groove, and the feedback drenched stylings of albums past have been replaced by the riffs Hendrix learned and mastered on the chitlin circuit. Jimi recruited R&B drummer/ vocalist Buddy Miles and his old Army friend Billy Cox for occasion.

"Who Knows" starts things off with a slow but funky jam. The performance is raw and a bit sloppy; Jimi's guitar and Buddy Miles' lead vocals fall out of tune. However, the spirit lies within the groove. Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox never leave the pocket.

"Machine Gun" comes next, and this performance is perhaps the closest to Experience-like psychedelia that the Band of Gypsys come. It is a masterpiece. For the uninitiated, Jimi's guitar work may seem like random noise and feedback, but to quote Wesley Snipes' famous line from White Men Can't Jamp, "you can't hear Jimi." At the very least you aren't truly listening to Jimi and what he is trying to convey. Taken within the context of all the turmoil of the time such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, Jimi takes all of that heartache and pours it out through his feeback and univibe-drenched Fender Stratocaster. Fittingly, the ex-paratrooper dedicates the song to the soldiers fighting in Vietnam as well as the "soldiers" fighting for civil rights in the US.

Buddy Miles' funky diddy "Changes" brings the mood back up. This little gem sounds remarkable when performed in such a stripped down fashion by the trio, sans Buddy's usual horn section. Furthermore, Buddy Miles shows how he was truly an amazing drummer/ vocalist.

"Power of Soul" follows, and the funk is really rolling by this time. Billy Cox shadows Jimi riff for riff. This is by far one of the funkiest Jimi Hendrix songs in his extensive catalogue.

"Message to Love" continues the funk. Also known as "Message of Love" and "Message to the Universe", this ode to self-empowerment is a reflection of Jimi's spiritual awakening. It is one of the genuine post- Experience classics, and it captures Billy Cox is at his finest.

Buddly Miles closes the show with "We Gotta Live Together". An audience participation number, it is a strong closer, and it showcases more of Buddy Miles' stellar vocals. This was after all a New Year's Eve show, and what better way to close a party than with a sing-along.

All-in-all, Band of Gypys is a worthwhile recording to add to your Jimi Hendrix collection because it captures an important stage of Jimi's career. However, from a strictly progressive music standpoint, because it is more backward leaning in its R&B/soul stylings, it does not have quite the same visionary impact as did his recordings with the Experience or his jazz-fusion experiments as chronicled in Nine to the Universe. I give it 4 stars, very recommended but not quite essential. .

jimidom | 4/5 |

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