Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC released another important chapter to the story of Jimi Hendrix’s life and career Friday. The “chapter” came in the form of the new live recording/documentary Live in Maui. The brand new release is a presentation that every Hendrix aficionados. The liner notes that accompany the hybrid recording forms the package’s foundation and will be discussed shortly. After having read through the extensive liner notes in the set’s companion booklet, audiences will then remain engaged and entertained by the set’s two live performances by Hendrix and company, as well as the fiasco that was the Rainbow Bridge documentary. The two elements together make the presentation in whole, and unforgettable story on what would sadly become the last chapter of Hendrix’s life. The three-disc set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. When it is considered along with the collection’s primary and secondary content, the whole becomes a must have for any Jimi Hendrix fan.
On July 30, 1970, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix and his fellow musicians Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox played what would be one of the group’s final performances together. Only days after the intimate concert, Hendrix would die of a drug overdose. Now thanks to Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC, audiences can experience the ill-fated concert any time they want on Blu-ray and CD in the form of Live in Maui. Released Friday, the three-disc set is an important chapter in the story of Hendrix’s life and career in part because of the story behind the concert and the documentary that spawned the concert, Rainbow Bridge. That story is told through liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet, which were crafted separately by journalists Jeff Slate and John McDermott. Slate points out in his portion of the liner notes, a variety of interesting facts about the documentary that Hendrix was not initially on board for the documentary, which his manager Michael Jeffrey had bankrolled, in large part on Hendrix’s back. It points out that in order to pay for the creation of Rainbow Bridge, Jeffrey had gotten a $1 million advance from Reprise Records – Hendrix’s label at the time – to pay for the creation of Rainbow Bridge, and that half of that amount was taken against potential future royalties from sales of the next album that Hendrix was working on at the time. That is rather selfish of Jeffrey to have done that to Hendrix, let alone trying to get Hendrix and his band mates on board for the documentary even though they already had a packed schedule. This is just a part of what makes this set’s liner notes so important. Slate’s revelation that few if any preparations were made for Hendrix and company ahead of their performance — a rickety stage, microphones that were unable to handle the sound impacts of high winds, and sound problems that are audible and visible in the final recording – shows how short-sighted Jeffrey was in his attempt at an art style production. Viewers will note from Slate’s statements that the foam covering the mics was in fact from the band’s equipment cases, and was meant to muffle the sound of the strong winds that were blowing that day. There are also issues with sound syncing throughout the performance, which Slate also addresses in his liner notes. It reminds audiences that the production problems seen and heard in the concert are not the fault of anyone at Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC, but rather of those who were behind the creation of Rainbow Bridge and the associated two-set concert.
McDermott, in his notes, backs up Slate’s writing about the production problems that faced Hendrix and his band mates, but pointing out that the trio took the whole thing in stride, performing just as professionally as it would at any other concert. Additionally, McDermott takes time to point out why the concert’s order was presented as was. As a hint, that is also related to the production problems caused by those behind Rainbow Bridge’s creation and that of the concert. Keeping in mind this, everything pointed out in Slate’s notes and even more not mentioned here, the liner notes featured with Live in Maui form a strong foundation for the recording’s presentation. It is just one aspect of what make the recording so appealing. The two sets that make up the recording’s featured concert build on that foundation, making for even more enjoyment and engagement.
The two sets that are featured in Live in Maui are important both for their content and their presentation. As is noted in the recording’s liner notes, the set opens with what was then one of Hendrix’s newest songs, ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).’ From there, the concert went into a series of fan favorites, such as ‘Hear My Train A-Comin’,’ ‘Foxey Lady’ and ‘Purple Haze’ before presenting another new song, ‘Spanish Castle Magic.’ That then new song is followed by another new tune, ‘Lover Man,’ which is itself followed by the first set’s closer, ‘Message to Love.’ In simple terms, Hendrix and company presented the audience with a well-balanced set featuring some familiar content and something new from beginning to end in this case. The second set gives listeners a fair share of familiar songs, too, again, doing its own part to ensure audiences’ engagement and entertainment. The two sets clearly entertained the audience who attended the event. The intimate audience, who had originally taken part in the filming of Rainbow Bridge danced nonstop to the performance.
While the featured set lists do plenty to keep audiences engaged, it should also be noted that the editing used in the recording is impressive in its own right. That is because, as noted in the liner notes, the whole concert was not recorded by cameras during the shoot for Rainbow Bridge. There are plenty of points at which cameras apparently stopped rolling. It is at those points at which the post production came into play. That aspect was also discussed in the liner notes. The painstaking efforts that were taken to assemble the concert’s audio in post paid off, as the transitions are seamless. The result of those efforts is a full concert recording that even without full visual footage still proves so enjoyable. To that end, the combination of the previously unreleased concert footage and audio proves just as enjoyable as the liner notes that accompany the concert and its associated documentary. These two elements together just make up one part of what makes the recording so appealing. The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.
The packaging used for Live in Maui is important to note through the placement of its three discs. This set’s packaging is not the standard multi-disc presentation. Rather than using a familiar gatefold style packaging for the 2CD/BD set, it opens more like a box, with the cover section opening downward, the another portion opening up, and the final two portions opening left and right. The companion booklet is held in the middle of it all while the CDs and Blu-ray disc each sit in their own spot in the gatefolds. It is an original packaging style to say the very least that also manages to protect each disc. The only downside to the packaging style is that it can put undue stress on the package, leading to the potential of each “wing” tearing over time. Even with that in mind, if a person is careful enough with the packaging, that wear should be minimal over time. To that end, the packaging is more of an aesthetic element here, but is still important to note in its own right. When it is considered along with the liner notes and the concert footage itself, the whole of the recording proves that much more engaging and entertaining. All things considered, this rare live/documentary hybrid set proves to be a welcome addition to the library of any Jimi Hendrix fan.
Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC’s new Jimi Hendrix recording Live in Maui is an important chapter of Jimi Hendrix’s life and career that until now has been unreleased. Now thanks to the companies, it is out there for fans to experience. The liner notes that fill the companion booklet tell a rich story in this chapter. They set the stage for the previously unreleased live recording featured in this set. The packaging that is used to house the set’s two discs and one Blu-ray puts the finishing touch to the set with is aesthetic value. And of course for those who want, the much maligned documentary Rainbow Bridge is also included on the Blu-ray. Though knowing the story, it will make some not even want to watch the program. Regardless, its inclusion in the set along with the concert footage and liner notes, makes the set in whole a must have for any Jimi Hendrix fan and any classic rock fan. It is available now.
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