It's been quite the circuitous route from the second official posthumous Jimi Hendrix release Rainbow Bridge
(Reprise, 1971) to Music, Money, Madness... Live In Maui
. And while video component of the 2020 Jimi Hendrix
archive release seems like much ado about nothing in its examination of the aforementioned film, the concert content of the Experience reminds how endlessly fascinating is/was the late guitar icon on stage.
The audio portion of the package represents the first authorized release of the two sets the trio played in late summer 1970. Ostensibly arranged to rescue the clumsily-conceived and executed movie, Hendrix' chosen mix of (very) old and new material setlists belie the circumstances. The reconstituted Experience the late rock and blues icon on guitar and vocals, Billy Cox
on bass and Mitch Mitchell
on drumsin fact gives two largely fiery performances that belie the muddled atmosphere created by the film project.
As if to make a point of counteracting the surrounding conflicts of interest, Hendrix and company open with the novel likes of " Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" and "In From The Storm" before trotting out crowd-pleasers in the form of "Foxey Lady." Such vintage selections provide a rousing homestretch of the first show for the audience in the form of " Fire" (with a nod to Cream
on a tease on "Sunshine of Your Love"), "Purple Haze," and Spanish Castle Magic." Not surprisingly, on such well-worn material, Hendrix displays a decided love/hate attitude toward the tunes: he seems more than a little inclined to hurry through the vocals in order to literally shred the song, a process by which he invariably finds fascinating nooks and crannies with the stable guidance of his bandmates.
The real substance, however, comes in the form of "Hear My Train A-Comin,'" the blues staple at the heart of the Experience's latter-day shows, along with the seminal heavy riffsong usually used as an encore, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." The iconic guitarist may well have been distracted by extraneous circumstances or more likely aggrieved at having to leave the recording studio, where he was working on what would be issued posthumously as The Cry of Love
(Reprise, 1971). But apart from his obvious boredom with culls from Are You Experienced?
(Reprise, 1967), his interest ignites with the more recently composed songs.
It is quite noticeable how much further he unfurls his imagination on tunes such as "Dolly Dagger" and "Ezy Ryder:" in choosing to so sequence this day, Hendrix imparts a logic to the set it might not otherwise contain and at least gives lip service to the cosmic entreaties with which Chuck Wein regales the crowd in his intro to the performance. There's a palpable sense of play between the leader and the rhythm sectionCox was an ideal choise to lay down a base from which both his old Army buddy and stalwart rhythm partner could roam freeand the threesome is never more exploratory than on "Villanova Junction," a choice hearkening to the Woodstock festival appearance roughly a year before.
As with "Jam Back at the House," "Straight Ahead" and the languid "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/Midnight Lightning," this instrumental finds the threesome taking its time early in the set, as an extension of its earlier show: it's like one two-part concert. Accordingly, closing with "Stone Free" is as deliberate a placement as the early slow-blues from the Experience repertoire: the extent to which Hendrix embroiders his playing belies the age of the song and hints at how playing more recent tunes (re) invigorated his imagination, as did the sympathetic and consistent support of Mitchell and Cox.
Directed by author/archivist John McDermott, the documentary chronicles the Jimi Hendrix Experience's visit to Maui and how the band became ensnared in the movie produced by manager Michael Jeffery. As a story of inept business practices, it is no doubt familiar to devout Hendrix fans, but for more casual followers, this detailed look at the scattered machinations may well serve as a summary on that relatively mundane side of Hendrix's career.
That said, the existence of Music, Money, Madness . . .
in various configuration including CD, vinyl and Blu-raybut notably not DVDmay limit the exposure somewhat. Yet, that's somehow fitting because, notwithstanding the inherent drama of Jimi Hendrix in action, the video veers close to the ephemera that is its dated source material. Still, bonus features of the existing 16mm color film footage heightens how striking is the Hawaiian setting of the two afternoon performances..
As is the custom with such packages, producers McDermott and Janie Hendrix arranged for mixing the film in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound, while the audio proper has been newly-restored and mixed by longtime Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, then mastered by Bernie Grundman. It is an effort especially worthwhile for sake of listening on headphones to savor the stereo separation, but also in compensating for the abrupt endings of more than a few tracks (and for the truly discerning listener, hearing where Mitchell overdubbed at a later date).
Whether or not Jimi Hendrix In Maui
constitutes a definitive clarification surrounding Rainbow Bridge
, it's worth the patience necessary to navigate its multi-fold package design.
CD 1: Chuck Wein Introduction; Hey Baby (New Rising Sun); In From The Storm; Foxey Lady; Hear My Train A-Comin'; Voodoo Child (Slight Return); Fire; Purple Haze; Spanish Castle Magic; Lover Man; Message to Love. CD 2: Dolly Dagger; Villanova Junction; Ezy Ryder; Red House; Freedom; Jam Back at the House; Straight Ahead; Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/Midnight Lightning; Stone Free
PERSONNEL: Jimi Hendrix: vocals.