On July 4th, 1970 legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix stood on a stage in Byron, Georgia before an audience estimated to be anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 people at the city’s Second Atlanta International Pop Festival. He was joined on stage by then band mates Billy Cox (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) for what would go on to be the biggest audience for which the trio would ever perform before Hendrix’s untimely death a little more than two months later. While it is the biggest performance that Hendrix and company had ever held, it has never seen the light of day. That is until now. Thanks to the efforts of the people at Experience Hendrix, LLC and Legacy Recordings, this classic concert will finally be available to audiences this Friday, August 28th. Needless to say this new, upcoming live recording is one more welcome addition to any Hendrix fan’s music library. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable recording is its set list. The show’s set list totals sixteen songs and tops off at roughly an hour and twenty-two minutes. It features both a number of Hendrix’s biggest hits up to that point and even a number of lesser-known pieces. The combination of both those bigger hits and lesser-known pieces makes for a set list that both the most hardcore Hendrix fans will enjoy and those that might not be so familiar with the music that made Hendrix rock royalty. As important as the concert’s set list is to its presentation in whole, it is just one part of what makes the show so enjoyable. Hendrix’s stage presence and that of his band mates plays its own role in the concert’s enjoyment. Last but hardly least important in the concert’s enjoyment is its audio mix. Considering the changes in recording technology over the course of the past forty-five years the quality of this concert’s audio mix is surprisingly impressive. Sure, it’s tough to hear Hendrix talking and joking with the audience between songs without pumping the volume almost to max. But that’s a minor issue when looking at the audio mix in general. That being the case, the audio mix passes the test and rounds out what is yet another archived show that any Hendrix fan will want to have in his or her own music library.
Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival is hardly the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first archived live show to be released by Experience Hendrix, LLC and Legacy Recordings. That aside, it is still another great addition to the home music library of any Hendrix fan out there regardless of his or her familiarity with Hendrix’s body of work and his live shows. The main way in which it proves so enjoyable is its set list. The set list is not entirely different from previous Jimi Hendrix Experience concert recordings. However, it does show at least some differences from those recordings. It shows differences by including a number of lesser-known songs including the likes of: ‘Lover Man,’ ‘Spanish Castle Magic,’ ‘Room Full of Mirrors,’ ‘Message To Love,’ and ‘Freedom’ just to name a handful. While the inclusion of those lesser-known songs is in itself important to the enjoyment of this recording the performance of the band’s more well-known songs should not be played down. Audiences will love the band’s laid back take of ‘Red House.’ And fittingly the band’s performance of the show-opening ‘Fire’ will have listeners even today feeling the energy exuded by the band and by the audience in attendance all those decades ago. Feeling that energy, listeners will feel it running through themselves, too. Just as interesting is the band’s performance of ‘Hey Joe,’ one of its biggest hits of all. Unlike with so many other performances of this song–and even the song’s original recording–it shows to be more up-tempo than in those recordings. That’s not to say that it is a really fast paced rendition of the song. It is just not as slow as audiences are accustomed to in regards to this song. It’s yet another interesting way in which the set list shows to be just one important element in the whole of Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival. The rest of the songs featured in the show’s set list could each be used as examples, too. These examples within themselves are just a few of the clearest examples of why the show’s set list is so important to its success and enjoyment.
The set list featured at the heart of Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival is a key element of the recording’s success. It is of course just one element in a much larger picture. The band’s stage presence–especially that of Hendrix himself–is just as important to its success and enjoyment. Audiences that are familiar with Hendrix’s history both on and off the stage will find his stage presence just as enjoyable as ever. This includes both his performance of each song and his rapport with his audience. During the course of each of the band’s songs, Hendrix feels just as at ease as ever. His performance feels completely natural and organic. Listeners will especially notice this in some of the concert’s more spur of the moment jam session moments. The same can be said of [Billy] Cox and [Mitch] Mitchell. They feel just as natural in their performances. Mitchell sounds as if his drumsticks are natural extensions of his arms as he flows through each song while Cox is just as smooth, offering up just enough low-end to perfectly compliment both Mitchell’s rhythms and Hendrix’s main line. It makes for a great harmony opposite Hendrix’s work. All three musicians’ talents together make for a nearly ninety minute set that is still just as enjoyable today as it was forty-five years ago. Hendrix’s rapport with the audience plays into that, too. Although listeners will have to pump the volume on their stereos or MP3 players in order to hear him between songs, they will hear for themselves in doing so just how natural he was even when not performing. It’s really interesting to note especially considering his nature off-stage. He was just as nice off-stage as he was in front of a crowd. But he was also somewhat shy around people when he wasn’t performing. So keeping that in mind, it makes his interactions with the audience here just as enjoyable and incredible as in any of the band’s other performances. It really goes to show why his ability to overcome that shyness is so important both to the enjoyment of this and other performances from the band, and why he is himself one of the most important front men in modern rock history.
The stage presence of both Hendrix and his band mates throughout the course of Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival shows in the long run to be a hugely important element in its overall success and enjoyment. That is because all three musicians’ performances feel just as natural and organic as in any of the band’s previous performances. That natural, organic approach to each song make the set list in whole that much more important to the recording’s success, too. For all of the importance of both noted elements, neither would be of any worth noting without noting the concert’s audio mix. Thankfully, those charged with restoring the concert’s audio mix stepped up and accomplished their task with the utmost expertise. Sure, it would have been nice if listeners didn’t have to jack up the recording’s volume in between songs. But that is a minor price to pay for a recording that sounds as good as it does in this case. It speaks volumes of not only the abilities of those that re-mastered the concert’s sounds but of those that originally recorded the concert and of the recording tech from the era. It is thanks to both that tech and the abilities of all involved that both the show’s set is so easy on the ears and why the band’s stage presence throughout the whole show comes across just as well even with the issue of the moments between the songs. It is the foundation for the concert in whole and in turn makes the concert complete. It is the final touch in the concert’s examination, proving exactly why it is yet another welcome addition to any Hendrix fan’s music library.
Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival is not the first live Hendrix concert recording to be released to audiences. That aside, it still proves in the end to be another fully welcome addition to any Hendrix fan’s music library. That is thanks to the show’s near ninety-minute set list, made up of songs that all of Hendrix’s fans will recognize. The band’s stage presence and the work of those responsible for re-mastering its sound are just as much to note. All three elements combined make Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival one more welcome addition to the music library of any Jimi Hendrix fan and one more of this year’s best new live CD recordings. It will be available in stores and online this Friday, August 28th. More information on this and other Jimi Hendrix recordings is available online now at:
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