Winterland

Jimi Hendrix Experience

Are you experienced? Have you ever been…? Would you like to be? Well, you are going to get the full frontal blast from one of rock's legendary guitarists when you listen to Winterland, a four-disc box set of the Jimi Hendrix Experience live at San Francisco's famed Winterland ballroom from October 10, 11 and 12, 1968. This set includes many tracks out-of-print or never heard before. These special performances celebrated the two year anniversary of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and came just as Electric Ladyland was released.

Hendrix's resonant style and stage presence reaches out with furious fingers, gripping the listener, dragging them far from today and back to the sweat-soaked stage that the left-handed guitar God and his band of sound saints ruled over for three days and six shows. The first disc begins with a 14-minute jam session of "Tax Free." What follows after are two tracks of pure instrumental Hendrix, including a cover of Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love," which Hendrix mournfully introduces with the news that Cream had announced its break-up - a bullet in history that makes you feel the mood of Hendrix as he plays. A manic version of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" featuring Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady is an arousing treat that will shift you from zero to 60 without tender warning.

I enjoyed the cover of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone," featured on the second and third discs (the latter is my favorite) with a sort of rock gospel ballad sound. "Fire," of course, burns like a sun flare and "Little Wing" will have you soaring. You can feel the energy exploding on stage in these live tracks; they never seem to lose momentum throughout the recording. Each disc has as much force as the last. The jewel of this collection may well be a recorded interview with the guitarist, which appears as the final track on the fourth disc. He talks about his influences, early life, and how he wished to make his mark. Listening to the four-disc Winterland, it couldn't be any clearer that Jimi Hendrix made his mark and then some.

~ Justin Lee Fox

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