Some music acts out there are better on their studio recordings than their live shows. For others, the exact opposite is the case. And then there are still others that amazingly are just as good on their albums as on stage. The Jimi Hendrix Experience is in the latter category. While the trio was only together for a short time – only a few years – the band’s records and concerts remain some of the greatest in the modern history of music. The band’s brand new live recording, Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is no exception to that rule. Set for release Friday through Sony Music, Experience Hendrix, LLC, the 11-song concert is just as much an essential for any Hendrix fan’s collection as its most recent live predecessor, Live in Maui (2020). That is due in large part to the featured set list and the trio’s performance thereof. This will be discussed shortly. The companion booklet that accompanies the recording building on the foundation formed by the concert and makes this recording even more enjoyable. That is because of the liner notes therein. This will be examined a little later. The recording’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and brings everything full circle. It will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969. All things considered they make this recording easily one of the best new live CDs released so far this year.
Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, the latest archived Jimi Hendrix Experience live show to see the light of day, is yet another essential addition to the library of any Hendrix fan. That is due in no small part to its featured set list and the trio’s performance thereof. The concert’s set list spans 11 songs and 79 minutes (one hour, 19 minutes) and features a hand full of songs which audiences had come to know at that time (and that are still beloved to this day) while also including some lesser-performed songs, such as ‘Spanish Castle Magic,’ ‘I Don’t Live Today’ and ‘Tax Free,’ which opens the concert. Yes, Hendrix and his fellow musicians – drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding – played ‘Tax Free’ many times, but few of the group’s live recordings feature performances of the song. To that end, it is correct to say that the song is lesser performed. What’s more, the overall set list featured in this concert was, as noted in music journalist Randy Lewis in the recording’s second set of liner notes (this will be discussed a little later), an example of Hendrix being more concerned simply with a set list, not which songs from the trio were popular and charting at the time. It really is an example that few bands today follow when they tour. To that end, this set list is such a joy in its own right, giving audiences something familiar and lesser so.
Staying on the topic of the concert itself, the collective performance put on by Hendrix and company makes the show even more enjoyable. That is because it proves to be so natural and “organic.” Jimi seems to relaxed as he tries to get the audience at the famed forum to not rush the stage, actually noting at one point that the band couldn’t perform until the crowd settled down. The trio’s performance of ‘Tax Free’ lasts more than 15 minutes (15 minutes, 34 seconds to be exact), with much of it being a jam session. The band takes the same style approach through each song that follows, simply enjoying being in the moment and bringing the audience into the moment. The result is a general effect between the songs and performances thereof that makes for so much engagement and entertainment for audiences.
The content featured in this recording is itself more than reason enough for audiences to own the concert. It is just one part of what makes the recording so deserving of applause, too. The companion booklet that accompanies the recording builds on the foundation formed by the concert and makes for even more enjoyment and engagement. That is because it features not just one but two separate sets of liner notes. The first set of liner notes was crafted by ZZ Top front man/bassist/founder Billy F. Gibbons and the second by Lewis. As already noted, Lewis points out in his writing, that the concert featured in this recording was an example of Hendrix caring less about which of the band’s songs were performing well on the charts and simply being more in the moment and making the concert enjoyable for everyone. The jam sessions that grow out of each song make that completely clear. Lewis also points out in his notes, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance at the Forum was important because prior to its presentation the only rock acts that had preceded the group’s came from Deep Purple, Cream, and The Doors. Prior to those concerts (and that of The Jimi Hendrix Experience), the Forum’s concerts were much more in another direction in terms of genre. Audiences will be left to find out more about that topic for themselves when they buy this recording.
Gibbons’ liner notes meanwhile offer their own engagement and entertainment. Gibbons reminisces at one point in his comments, about having actually been there at the Forum for the band’s show. He writes in his liner notes that Hendrix actually came back stage after the concert and asked Gibbons what he thought of the show. Gibbons’ response in his recollection is humble and in its simplicity, shows the respect that even someone of Gibbons’ status had and has even today for Hendrix as a person and musician. Gibbons also points out his amazement at and respect for Hendrix’s talents on the guitar, writing, “What unfolded thereafter was firsthand evidence of how Jimmy Hendrix had figured out how to do things on a Fender Stratocaster that had obviously never been imagined by its designers.” That is a strong statement of pure respect from one now famous musician to one who remains among the most influential in the music community in whole. It is just one more of so many insights shared by Gibbons that make his comments just as entertaining and engaging as those crafted by Lewis. Gibbons even shares a brief anecdote about Hendrix requiring a record player in any hotel room where he stayed. That is one more story that audiences will be left to enjoy for themselves when they buy this recording and even more example of the importance of the recording’s liner notes. When the comments shared by Gibbons and Lewis are considered collectively, they make the overall liner notes even more reason for Hendrix fans to own this recording.
The production that went into this concert recording rounds out its most important elements. That is because it surprisingly immerses audiences in the experience, making listeners really feel like they are right there. The production isn’t some spit-shined presentation. It is raw and organic. Audiences can hear the audience noise “in the distance” while the band’s performance sounds so natural. There is a certain richness and warmth to the sound quality in its approach. It is a tribute to those who were charged with bringing the master tapes back to life for this presentation. The result of the overall audio production is a positive general effect here, too. Keeping that in mind, the effect of the production pairs with the effect of the band’s performance and the set list itself to make the whole a complete presentation that every Jimi Hendrix fan and rock fan will find enjoyable.
Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, the brand new live recording from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, is another thoroughly enjoyable presentation from the band, even with the band no longer being around. It is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. That is due in no small part to its featured set list and the band’s performance thereof. The set list features plenty of familiar songs and some that are less common place on live Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings that have already been released. The band’s performance of said set list feels so natural that it makes for its own enjoyment. The liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet make for even more entertainment and engagement. That is because of the background that they offer from both Gibbons and Lewis. The recording’s production creates a sound quality that is organic and natural in its own right that makes for its own immersion in the experience. Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of this recording. All things considered they make Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 one more of the best of this year’s new live CDs if not the best so far.
Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is scheduled for release Friday through Sony Music and Experience Hendrix, LLC. More information on Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 and other Jimi Hendrix releases is available online at:
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