Performance: Live Concert
Released: April 24, 2003 || Format(s): CD
Released: December 4, 2004 || Format(s): 2LP
Live At The Olympia Theater
Paris, France (October 9, 1967)
1. Stone Free 3:40
2. Hey Joe 4:22
3. Fire 3:29
4. Rock Me Baby 5:03
5. Red House 7:49
6. Purple Haze 7:26
7. Wild Thing 5:56
Live At The Winterland Ballroom
San Francisco, CA (February 4, 1968 – Second Show)
8. Killing Floor 4:05
9. Red House 5:42
10. Catfish Blues 11:43
11. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Part 1) 5:10
12. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Part 2) 7:34
13. Purple Haze 5:00
The sixth release in the Dagger Records collection presents two impressive performances from Paris and San Francisco.
We begin in Paris at the famed Olympia Theater. These raw, direct to two-track live recordings made for French radio document the Experience’s triumphant return to Paris almost one year to the date of their 1966 showcase as a support act for Johnny Hallyday. By the time of their October 9, 1967 performance, the Experience had captivated Europe via Are You Experienced and such memorable singles as “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze”. An exuberant, sold out house roared their approval throughout the evening.
This Paris performance came just eight days after sessions for what would become Axis: Bold As Love had resumed at London’s Olympic Studios on October 1, 1967. The Experience was in top form on this evening. Two superb examples of this spirited performance were included as part of the 2000 Jimi Hendrix Experience box set. “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Catfish Blues” made perfectly clear the appeal and historical value of these Paris radio recordings.
The Experience roared out of the gate with “Stone Free” and followed, much to the frenzied delight of the audience, with vibrant renditions of “Hey Joe” and “Fire.”
Beyond the songs already set aside as part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience box set, two additional Paris performances have not been included on this release. Technical problems commenced during the latter half of “Catfish Blues” and a malfunctioning microphone rendered “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp” and “Foxey Lady” unusable.
Thankfully, Jimi’s vocal microphone was restored just prior to the start of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby.” A compact “Red House” prefaced a grinding, muscular take of “Purple Haze.”
Jimi then followed with “Wild Thing,” replete with incomprehensible feedback swoops and a rousing, tongue in cheek lead vocal that emphatically closed the show.
From Paris we move to San Francisco and The Winterland Ballroom. In the interim, the Experience had completed Axis: Bold As Love and had come to San Francisco to kick off their US tour in support of the album. Impresario Bill Graham had booked the group to perform eight concerts over four consecutive nights. The Experience performed at the Fillmore Auditorium on February 1st while The Winterland Ballroom hosted the performances on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Each of the eight performances were sold out.
Sadly, none of Jimi’s San Francisco performances in February were professionally recorded. Eight months later, all six of the Experience’s October Winterland appearances were preserved on tape but no such plans had been set in place for these concerts. Fortunately, an amateur stereo recording drawn from the stage monitor soundboard provides us with another compelling chapter in Jimi’s rich legacy. This rough hewn, two-track recording documents Jimi’s second show on February 4th, the eighth and final performance of his four-night stand.
Bill Graham had organized an extraordinary roster of talent on this evening. The Experience topped a bill that included renowned blues guitarist Albert King and local favorites Big Brother & The Holding Company, fronted by Janis Joplin. Albert King was a favorite of Jimi’s. The left-handed blues giant wrenched stinging single notes from his trademark Gibson Flying V. Although King like Hendrix played a right-handed guitar flipped over, he did not restring the instrument, leaving the high E string at the top in reverse order. King had refined his distinctive guitar technique over years of performances in taverns, hardscrabble juke joints, and occasional package tours. By the time of this Winterla appearance, King was just beginning to enjoy wider critical and commercial success. The guitarist had been signed to Stax Records, the R&B based recording home for such popular artists as Otis Redding. His most recent album, Born Under A Bad Sign, had a marked influence on a younger generation of guitarists such as Eric Clapton whose group Cream covered the title track on their best selling Wheels Of Fire double album later that summer.
Perhaps in homage to King, Jimi revised his set list for this Winterland performance. It is not known what other songs, if any, were performed apart from those preserved on this recording. Nonetheless, seemingly in place of such Experience favorites as “Fire” and “Foxey Lady” came three consecutive blues numbers. “Killing Floor” was throttled back from the furious tempo Jimi had employed at the Monterey Pop Festival the previous summer. This Winterland rendition was more in keeping with the pacing of Howlin’ Wolf’s original 1966 Chess Records arrangement.
Jimi followed “Killing Floor” with “Red House,” his own blues masterwork. “Red House” stands today as one of the guitarist’s finest achievements, yet the song was virtually unknown to everyone in the venue on that evening. “Red House” had yet to be released on disc in the United States. Much to Jimi’s disappointment, Reprise had elected to hold “Red House” back when the company issued its US version of Are You Experienced in August 1967.
Jimi’s version of “Catfish Blues,” an early Experience stage favorite, came next before the proceedings took an unusual turn. Mitch Mitchell invited Buddy Miles onstage to take over his drum kit prior to the start of the next number. “We’re going to muck things up even further and have Buddy Miles from the Electric Flag come up and play drums,” instructed Mitchell humorously. Mitchell’s invitation was completely unscripted but it was the type of gesture, he explains, that both challenged and stimulated the respective members of the band. “What it comes down to with Jimi, with myself, and even with Noel to some degree, was that it always felt good and it was agreed that we’d try to play with as many people as possible,” explains Mitchell. “That was a really important thing to the members of the band. Buddy Miles was with the Electric Flag at Monterey and there came a time when I thought, ‘Christ, I’d like to hear what Jimi would sound like with him.’ So we were playing in San Francisco at one of the Experience gigs and Buddy was there. I said to him, ‘Do me a favor, swap seats with me and play.'”
With Miles in place, Jimi launched into a loose, extended instrumental reading of “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” the title track of Traffic’s second album. The Experience, and Hendrix in particular, had befriended the group in London and thoroughly enjoyed their music. Dave Mason, Chris Wood, and Steve Winwood would all later contribute to Jimi’s Electric Ladyland. Buddy Miles was based in San Francisco at that time, as the city was home to the Electric Flag. The drummer always relished the opportunity to play with Jimi no matter what the occasion. “My goodness, let me put it this way,” explains Miles. “Playing with Jimi Hendrix was probably my greatest musical achievement. I would think to any musician it would be the ultimate compliment, because you know your playing with the world’s greatest musician.”
“Dear Mr. Fantasy” is presented here in two separate parts. When the recording was originally made, the first side of the tape ended abruptly and came off the spool. The amateur tape operator then hurriedly flipped the reel over, rethreaded the tape and snapped on the record button. The recording resumed, preserving the balance of the jam complete with Jimi’s bagpipe like guitar effects near the close.
Mitch Mitchell returned to the stage as Miles exhorted the audience to make their approval for the Experience drummer heard. Jimi then apologized for not being able to play longer. He offered “Purple Haze” in grateful recognition to an audience and a city that had so warmly embraced him in the eight months since Monterey. As “Purple Haze” built to its crescendo, the recording that had been documenting the concert came to a sudden close. Perhaps Jimi continued with another number or returned to provide an encore. Unless additional documentation or a second, separate recording should ever surface, we may never know. Until then, listen and enjoy!
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