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Jimi Hendrix - BBC Sessions CD (album) cover

BBC SESSIONS

Jimi Hendrix

 

Proto-Prog

4.41 | 21 ratings

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Eetu Pellonpää
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars If I should choose only one Jimi Hendrix album for a recommendation, I would pick up this double CD. In my opinion it gives a great retrospective of the band's music performed aggressively live in a radio recording studio, containing material from their three first major studio albums and also many fabulous tracks not published on earlier official records. The live performing concept is an ideal observation angle to the music of this group if you seek a psychedelic perspective to it, and it is interesting to listen the balancing of musicians focusing to each other and their own playing same time, producing flow of both chaotic and controlled elements. The sheer power of the sound is an epitaph of psychedelic acid rock. Nearly all of the material here are from year 1967, so taste for late sixties sound is required for maximum enjoyment.

I would personally highlight from this release the wonderful version of Dylan's "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?". The stinging electronic guitar tones bring quite wonderful flow to this composition, and Alexis Korner's introductions are quite fun. I have understood Dylan being on of the encouraging examples for Jimi also to start doing his own stuff, so the tribute's great passion might be explained by this factor. The instrumental jam track Driving South is also just fabulous, guitar and drum freak outing with the help of combining bass guitar. There are three versions of this song on the CD, a loose track borne from one note scale and concluding to a drum solo.

"Fire" is one of the big hits of the group, wild drums driving the tune. I understood Deep Purple's "Speed King" was written with aim to do something similar. After short and funny group interview we get in my opinion the best version ever of "The Burning of The Midnight Lamp". The harpsichord intro of the original studio version is here played with wah-wah guitar, and as a whole the song sounds much more powerful as a live trio playing than form the careful studio sessions, lyrics catching the core of nocturnal solitary moody moments. This October "Top Gear" show had also rootsy "Catfish Blues", containing really fine musical blow-out exploration to the cosmos. Following February "Saturday Club" builds strongly on the hit songs, "Stone Free" which has great very aggressive version presented here, and also "Hey Joe" which is kind of borer for me as you can't escape that song anywhere. "Love or Confusion" is one of the gems from the group's first studio album, and the arrangement of double guitar lines slightly reduces the impact of the song here, though the performance is good and song fantastic psychedelic classic. Next "Top Gear" spins a basic rocker "Hound Dog", and also best version of "Driving South", here pre-defined bridge rises the key for another blow sequence. "Hear My Train A Comin'" goes also to a very high levels, the whirling chaos stays intact is wonderful storm to listen.

Second CD opens with great aggressive version of the stoner anthem "Purple Haze" from March "Top of The Pops", which is the best performance so far I have heard of this hit. I'm not sure if this was aired unlike the following "Killing Floor", which is really a killer, superb fast fuzz-treated scale runs and a wild jam between the verses create a wonderful flower power treatment of this rocker. A joke radio anthem leads to the December's "Top Gear" sessions; Highlights here are truly powerful version of Beatles "Day Tripper" shadowing the original version at least in trippyness and power, and also the "Spanish Castle Magic" is more intimate, impulsive and stronger than the fine studio album version. Following October's "Top Gear" is historically interesting as Stevie Wonder is playing drums in these tracks, which are free open improvisation and "I Was Made to Love Her", both tracks being instrumental. February's "Saturday Club" presents the top hit songs for the radio audience, good versions but also easiest choices and quite over listened songs at least for me. The next excerpt is from BBC "late Night Line Up", wonderful menacing song "Manic Depression", which here lacks little the punch it has on the "Are You Experienced?" album. Last 1967 tracks are yet one more version of "Driving South", being probably a not so well went version from same day as the second version in the end of first CD. The second version of "Hear My Train A Comin'" is quite different than their earlier presented version, this one being a quite hypnotic mantra. Last tracks contain cuts from January 1969 BBC Television show "Happening for Lulu", featured "Voodoo Child (slight return)" being quite trashy but powerful, also being found from video archive sources. Mandatory "Hey Joe" grows interestingly from a chaotic formless blast, this version is also otherwise very relaxed and free. Final song here is a version of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love", an interesting tribute, though not in my opinion as good as the slow trashy performances of the original group - More like a good willing gesture than carefully thought performance I would think.

The only lack in this record could be that the most wildest experimental songs are not included to the shows, but remain in the studio records. Nevertheless the wild exploration of trio improvisation's boundaries are present strongly in this release. The merits of this group along with implementing influences from jazz and strong psychedelic elements to rock music are in my opinion arguments why this music can be justified as early factor affecting the development of progressive psychedelic and krautrock legacies. You would not have Manuel Göttsching's guitar sound without Jimi's influence as a concrete reference. In addition of the grand master I give great kudos to the magnificent drummer Mitch Mithcell, bringing essential presence to the sound with his jazzy, wild and precise battering. Noel Redding's role was mostly to keep the beat and back up this dominant duo, but he did this supporting fine too. If you wish all-freak out 60's acid rock trio where bass joins the improvisation more stronger, check out the live recordings of Cream from late 60's.

Castle Communications released also a tighter one CD packet of these recordings with name "Radio One", and also a vinyl EP with color print on the vinyl surface. If you want to place the tracks and shows in correct time line, you can program your player or burn own copies of the CD with guidance of informative booklet notes, which contain also essays about the musicians.

Eetu Pellonpää | 5/5 |

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