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Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

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Album Review

As part of the numerous compilations issued in conjunction with the major television documentary series The Blues, this is a collection of blues-oriented Hendrix recordings. A couple of considerations conspire to make this one of Hendrix's less essential releases. First, the blues were just a part of Hendrix's musical mix, though an important one. Second, there was a previous compilation of Hendrix's blues-oriented work in 1994, simply titled Blues. There's little repetition between Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues and Blues, though, and it works as a decent grouping of some of his bluesiest recordings for those listeners who want to plunge especially deeply into one facet of his repertoire. "Red House" and "Voodoo Chile" are by far the most celebrated tracks here, but the accent is on lesser-heard performances that first came out on other archival compilations. In fact, the fine Earl King cover "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" (from Electric Ladyland) is the only other song that came out in Hendrix's lifetime. The other selections vary from inspired ("Hear My Train a Comin'," recorded in early 1969 with the original Jimi Hendrix Experience lineup, and a solo "Midnight Lightning") to rather routine jams, though Hendrix's imaginative virtuosity and affinity for the blues is usually evident. This being a posthumous Hendrix release, it couldn't be complete without a couple of previously unissued tracks to tempt the completists, though these aren't too exciting. Those are the 1969 outtakes "Georgia Blues," on which Hendrix is actually more like a backing musician for Lonnie Youngblood (who takes lead vocals), and "Blue Window," a nearly 13-minute outing that gives vent to his jazzier tendencies, the arrangement also featuring organ, three saxophones, and two trumpets. The liner notes about Jimi's blues record collecting habits by mid-'60s girlfriend Faye Pridgon, by the way, are pretty cool.


Born: 27 November 1942 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Jimi Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Hendrix was a master at coaxing all manner of unforeseen sonics from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced astral-quality feedback and roaring distortion. His frequent hurricane blasts of noise and dazzling showmanship — he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth and set...
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