Jimi Hendrix Experience | Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 – Live Release Review

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Just ahead of what would have been the 80th birthday of Jimi Hendrix on November 27 comes yet another live album from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, produced by Janie Hendrix, John McDermott and Eddie Kramer. At this stage in their storied, short-lived career, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had become one of the hottest groups on the live circuit and were given the opportunity to become one of the first acts to play the Forum in Los Angeles, which, along with Madison Square Garden, would go on to become one of the premier concert venues in the world. The single eight-song (including a three-song medley at the end) disc beautifully captures the night, with the Experience making the most of 18,000-seat arena and blazing the trail for numerous others to follow.

Unbeknownst to many in the audience at the time was that the Experience was undergoing a transition of sorts. Just days before the Forum show, Hendrix had completed what would be his final recordings with bassist Noel Redding; he was already working with his replacement, Billy Cox. Redding left the group for good two months after the Forum show. But listening to the trio at the Forum, you’d never know that anything had changed. The solos don’t skimp, and Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell obligingly go wherever Hendrix takes them. “Foxey Lady,” “Red House” and the ever-so-delightful “Spanish Castle Magic” all get pushed the limit — and who can complain?

A much mellower, more restrained “Star Spangled Banner” than what Hendrix would play four months later at Woodstock segues nicely into “Purple Haze.” At one point, Hendrix oozes out a non-committal “’Cuse me while I kiss that policeman…” revealing a humorous, tongue-in-cheek side of the guitarist that’s always a treat to hear and, when possible, see. Later, before the near flawless “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” he asks the audience to not to rush the stage. “It’s groovy to get high, let’s just relax,” he pleads. “Let’s not start any more trouble…” In 1969, Jimi Hendrix was at the apex of his career. His music tapped into a release of a certain strain of adrenaline, not only for himself, but also for his audience.

In the liner notes of Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who was at the Forum that night, goes into detail about his many encounters with Hendrix, adding that he told the guitarist he was “floored” by the Forum performance. There’s also an essay by former Los Angeles Times music critic Randy Lewis who writes about the year 1969, and where the history of rock, Jimi Hendrix and The Forum as a music venue were at the time. As another live set from Experience Hendrix, this is one you need to add to your collection.

~ Shawn Perry


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