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The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969
The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is an integral component of one of the earliest posthumous Jimi Hendrix anthologies, the four x CD set Lifelines: The Jimi Hendrix Story (Reprise, 1990). Yet it appeared there in slightly truncated form, and until this standalone release, the entire concert has never been issued in its entirety. With various selections having been packaged in something of piecemeal fashion over the years, it is only now, in 2022, complete with its attendant impact heightened by its availability close to the eightieth anniversary of Hendrix's birthday.

However much friction had begun to manifest itself within the Experience trio at this point of their existence, this top-of-the-line recording by Wally Heider and Bill Halvorson—mixed by Eddie Kramer and mastered by George Marino to noticeably improved effect—suggests its adverse effects do not seem to have carried over to the stage. If anything, the frustration bassist Noel Redding began to feel during the sessions for Electric Ladyland (Reprise, 1968) prompted him to play with greater authority and, in some cases, as on this frenetic reading of "I Don't Live Today," with out and out aggression.

Yet even such notable improvement in what was otherwise borderline nondescript musicianship (he was a guitarist hired for bass in this group) left him a notch or two below the brilliant drummer Mitch Mitchell. A staunch compatriot of Hendrix's for the duration of his tenure in the Experience and beyond, the latter is not so coincidentally allowed a solo on the very opening number. Mitchell's spotlight (his first of two) close to the end of nearly sixteen all-instrumental minutes of "Tax Free" adds panache to the performance, further indication the Experience came with the express intent to play hard, not to just dole out familiar fodder like "Foxy Lady."

Digging deep may well have been the means to placate an unruly crowd cautioned about its behavior more than once here from the stage. No question there is more than a hint of ennui during the reading of that number off Are You Experienced? (Reprise, 1967). But the pounding the trio applies effectively deconstructs the number, the finishing touch of which is the twisting, turning guitar work by which Hendrix declares he will not allow himself to get bored.

And, if that were not the case, his return to roots, via the pulsating twelve-bar blues that is "Red House," would also seem to stipulate that very point. A clear-cut demonstration of the late guitar icon's grasp of dynamics, his soft touch on the strings early on in that selection sets a tone for Mitchell and Redding to adopt and maintain on their respective instruments, a shared feeling that morphs savage maelstrom around the seven minute mark. Playing with the material, not just playing it straight, The Jimi Hendrix Experience is taking its time here, in specific and in general, on Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969.

The nine-count setlist belies the threesome's hour and a quarter presence on stage. The trio reconfigures another cull from the debut album, including the slightly-dated "Purple Haze," plus one from the sophomore LP Axis Bold As Love (Reprise, 1968), "Spanish Castle Magic." Extended to over eleven minutes, the latter also resides comfortably next to a truncated take on "Star Spangled Banner." "Here's a song we got brainwashed with..." says Hendrix in one of his few between-song asides.

In a gesture of combined respect and self-confidence, the Experience close by sandwiching the cover of seminal power trio Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," between two passages of what had at this point become a latter-day signature cut for Hendrix and company: "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" thus transforming the heavy riffer into a tour-de-force of modern psychedelic blues, albeit a good-natured one that makes it worth waiting for decades to hear it in its entirety and in the proper context.

At least that is how it sounds and much like ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons describes it in his essay within the twenty-four page booklet here. Los Angeles Times staff writer/critic Randy Lewis' dissertation places the occasion in a more broad historical context, a perspective worth recognizing but which, like the stilted cover photo of the Experience (in marked contrast to the kinetic stage shots inside, any one of which might better have graced the front cover), ultimately pales in the face of the force of the music that inspired the writing.

Track Listing

Introduction:Tax Free; Foxy Lady; Red House; Spanish Castle Magic; Star Spangled Banner; Purple Haze; I Don’t Live Today; Medley: Voodoo Child (Slight Return); Sunshine Of Your Love; Voodoo Child (Slight Return).

Personnel

Jimi Hendrix: guitar, electric; Noel Redding: bass; Mitch Mitchell: drums; The Jimi Hendrix Experience: band/orchestra.

Additional Instrumentation

Jimi Hendrix: vocals; Noel Redding: backing vocals.

Album information

Title: Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings/Experience Hendrix


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