Jimi Hendrix 4th wave awash in riveting live Winterland sets — and more

Can we ever get enough of Jimi Hendrix? Fortunately, it’s a question that’s credible and not just rhetorical, given the voluminous live recordings of rock’s greatest guitarist during his brief career. They include Legacy’s new releases in its fourth wave of the Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project, due Tuesday Sept. 13.

The biggie is a four-disc box set of Jimi Hendrix Experience — Winterland (also available on vinyl as an eight-disc 12-inch set and in a single-disc CD of highlights). The handsomely packaged box set features music from six 1968 concerts performed over three dates at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. And talk about a historic venue, which went on through the Band’s “Last Waltz” concert and an eight-hour closing show headlined by the Grateful Dead on New Year’s Eve 1978.

In the early ’80s I lived eight blocks from Winterland, and recall peering into the shuttered building, almost sensing I could hear the echoes of great rock ‘n’ roll. In 1985 it was torn down and replaced by apartments. Perhaps, lying in their beds at night, those tenants hear things too.

Hendrix’s shows were Oct. 10-12 1968, and featured some incendiary guitar playing for his own classics (Foxey Lady, Purple Haze) and his customarily fierce renditions of other artists’ songs (I won’t call them “covers,” since the likes of Like a Rolling Stone and Sunshine of Your Love were far more than that).

The four discs feature 35 song performances, mixed with some nice stage talk from Jimi, whose voice and “hey, it’s all cool” talk I’ve always loved. Many songs are getting their first formal release by Legacy. Oh, and Jack Casady, bassist for Jefferson Airplane, sits in.

Also new is Jimi Hendrix — Hendrix In the West, on a single CD or two vinyl discs, culled from various 1969 and 1970 shows. It’s previously released material but has been out of print for decades. We’re talking 11 tracks, including an incredible 13-minute rendition of Red House and 10-minute Spanish Castle Magic and Voodoo Child performances. Lately, this disc has been my commute music. It gets me there!

And since we can’t truly get enough of Jimi, there’s also the DVD Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix At the Isle of Wight. It includes a first-ever look at Jimi’s performance of Hey Joe during the 1970 show, notable because the song helped establish him in the UK in 1966.

Finally, there’s the DVD Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show, with live performances, interviews and a new 90-minute documentary.

I’m in no haze, purple or otherwise. I’ve got perfect clarity. And it tells me Hendrix fans have more to celebrate than the same tracks we’ve heard all these years. Thanks, Legacy –and thanks, Jimi. With releases such as these, you’re still rocking.

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