February 16, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-02-16

Jimi Hendrix - Live At Berkeley

* Biber: Mensa Sonora (Musica Antiqua Köln/Goebel) (Archiv Prod. CD)
* Corelli: 12 Concerti Grossi, Op.6 (English Concert/Pinnock) (Archiv Prod. 2CD)
* Satie: Oeuvres pour Piano (Ciccolini) (d1-2) (EMI Classics 5CD)
* John Coltrane: Fearless Leader (d.1-4) (Prestige/Concord 6CD)
* Sun Ra: Fort Dupont, Washington, D.C. 1977-08-14 (AUD CDR)
* Sun Ra: Unity (Horo 2LP>CDR)
* Sun Ra: The Soul Vibrations of Man (Saturn LP>CDR)
* Grant Green: Idle Moments (Blue Note CD)
* Curtis Mayfield: Super Fly (Curtom/Rhino LP)
* Isaac Hayes: Shaft (Enterprise 2LP)
* D’Angelo: Brown Sugar (EMI CD)†
* D’Angelo: Voodoo (Virgin CD)
* Frank Ocean: Nostalgia Ultra (Frank Ocean MP3)†
* Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (Island/Def Jam CD)
* Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA CD)
* Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At Berkeley (Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy 2LP)
* Jimi Hendrix: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy 2LP)
* Grateful Dead: Compton Terrance, Tempe, AZ 1983-03-25 (selections) (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, NY 1983-04-15 (selections (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Brendan Byrne Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ 1983-04-17 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Sports Arena, Indianapolis, IN 1984-06-30 (selections) (SBD 2CDR)
* Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Expanded Edition) (d.2-3) (Warner Bros. MP3)†
* Stevie Nicks: Bella Donna (Modern LP)
* Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra/Rhino LP)
* Sonic Youth: Smart Bar, Chicago 1985 (Goofin’ 2LP)
* Sonic Youth: EVOL (SST LP)
* Sonic Youth: Sister (SST LP)
* Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (Deluxe Edition) (d.3-4) (Geffen/Goofin’ 4LP)
* Robert Pollard: Silverfish Trivia (Prom Is Coming EP)
* Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard (GBV, Inc. 2LP)
* Lambchop: Damaged (Merge CD)†
* Lambchop: Mr. M (Merge CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Octane Twisted (KScope 2CD)
* Steven Wilson: Get What You Deserve (KScope 2CD/DVD/BD)
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner CD/BD)
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/Sony CD/DVD)
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner CD/DVD)
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD/DVD)
* Riverside: Shrine Of New Generation Slaves (Inside Out 2CD)
* Grails: Take Refuge In Clean Living (Important CD)
* Grails: Doomsdayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence CD)
* Agalloch: The Mantle (The End CD)†
* Agalloch: The Grey EP (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC>CDR)†
* Agalloch: The White EP (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC>CDR)†
* Agalloch: “Fragments” (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC>CDR)†/‡
* Agalloch: Ashes Against The Grain (The End CD)†
* The Sword: Warp Riders (Kemado LP)
* The Sword: Apocryphon (Razor & Tie LP)
* Wild Nothing: Nocturne (Captured Tracks CD)†/‡



I’m not sure how I missed this. Last summer, Jimi Hendrix: Live at Berkeley was reissued by Sony/Legacy on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and—most significantly—vinyl. Of course, that might not seem like such a big deal since this stuff was issued by MCA back in 2003. But I recently learned that the new 2-LP set was mixed and mastered all analog this time, pressed on 200-gram vinyl at QRP, the world’s premier record-pressing plant. Intrigued, I picked up a copy at my favorite local record store—a limited, numbered edition for only twenty bucks! How could I lose?

I was not familiar with the previous CD or the DVD, so the music is new me. In fact, as much as I love Hendrix, I am no expert. I have some live stuff and most of the posthumous compilations, but the core albums are where it’s at for me. While a lot of the live recordings suffer from rough sound, this LP sounds tremendous, with a wide, deep soundstage, superb instrumental and vocal balances and that rich, warm all-analog sound we all love. I thought it would sound pretty good, but not this good! Wow!

Recorded at the Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970, this version of the Experience features bassist Billy Cox in place of Noel Redding along with original drummer Mitch Mitchell. Cox was a more “in-the-pocket” kind of player and he grounds Mitchell’s busy, jazz-inflected drumming, creating a more solid foundation for Hendrix to soar over. It's not quite the dark funk of the short-lived Band of Gypsies, but close. The band was currently holed up in Electric Ladyland Studios, Jimi’s newly built studio, feverishly working on a new studio album and they open the set with a couple of embryonic versions of songs from the never-to-be-completed record (Hendrix tragically died from drug-induced asphyxia less than four months later on September 18, 1970; he was only twenty-seven years old).

The band sounds somewhat tentative on “Pass It On (Straight Ahead)” and “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” but Hendrix is relaxed and inspired, summoning a universe of tones from his guitar. Meanwhile, the revised rhythm section gives a new perspective on old favorites like “Stone Free,” “Hey Joe,” “Foxey Lady” and “Purple Haze” while the anti-war “Machine Gun” and a deconstructed “Star Spangled Banner” poetically reflect the political tensions of the era, epitomized by the People’s Park demonstrations happening down the street from the theatre. The set ends with a nearly eleven minute “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” a stunning display of guitar heroics from Hendrix. He sounds like he’s having a blast and could play all night but a strict curfew cuts him off. Still, it’s a fairly generous seventy-minute set.

There was some grumbling when Experience Hendrix left MCA for Sony/Legacy and, indeed, the most recent digital reissues contain the exact same mastering as the last round, enticing a re-purchase only for the (brief) DVD content (I passed). But the recent vinyl editions of the studio albums are exquisitely well done: all analog, heavyweight virgin vinyl, beautifully reproduced jackets and nice oversized booklets with new liner notes—and very reasonably priced. Aside from being a more satisfying physical object, vinyl is the way to hear Hendrix in my opinion—none of the CDs (and I’ve owned them all) sound quite right. Add this new reissue of Live At Berkeley to the list of essential Hendrix LPs. Kudos to Experience Hendrix and Sony; this is catalog material done right. Now, where's the early show?

Speaking of Hendrix on vinyl, coming next month from Sony/Legacy are limited edition MONO LPs of Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love, including both the British American versions of the debut, which have slightly different track listings. Now, we’re talking! Original mono editions are impossibly rare and offer a very different perspective on these iconic songs. I expect this vinyl renaissance will eventually fade but, for now, it’s a great time to be a record collector!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Funny, I was reading about "Electric Ladyland" just this weekend. The Berkeley shows are great.

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2013-02-18:

*Haydn: String Quartets op. 64 no. 1-3 (Caspar da Salo Quartett)
*Luigi Nono: Retrospective, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 2005-04 (BBC), disc 2 (CDR)
*Stockhausen: Pierre Boulez/Florent Boffard (Paris 1998) CDR
*Daniel Barbiero: Not One Nor
*Anthony Braxton: Ensemble (Victoriaville) 1988
*Miles Davis: The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (discs 4, 5)
*Mary Halvorson Trio: 2012-09-26 Nuernberg, Germany (CDR)
*Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House: 2012-05-26 Moers Festival (CDR)
*Butch Morris: Testament: A Conduction Collection (disc 9)
*Alphonse Mouzon: Mind Transplant
*Sun Ra: College Tour Vol. 1: The Complete Nothing Is... (disc 2)
*Sun Ra & His Space Arkestra: 1977-08-14 Washington DC (CDR)
*Tag Cloud + New Loft: 2013-02-09 Pyramid Atlantic, Silver Spring, MD (wav)
*Bob Dylan: A Tree with Roots: The Genuine Basement Tapes Remasters (discs 3, 4)
*Jeanne & the Darlings/The Charmels: We’re the Soul Girls! The Complete Volt Recordings
*Mastodon: The Hunter
*Prince: Rock and Roll Love Affair EP
*Residents: Baby Sex
*Rolling Stones: Live in England 1965
*Soft Machine: 1967-10 Paris TV soundtrack (CDR)
*Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel of Love
*Tad Thaddock: Moisture Hole
*Tad Thaddock: Leg Cakes
*Tad Thaddock: Boner Beans
*Tad Thaddock: Waffle Envy
*Tad Thaddock: Enigma Soup

Reading List 2013-02-18:

*Beckett, Samuel. Proust (started)
*Proust, Marcel. In Search of Lost Time, vol. VI: Time regained, transl. Mayor/Kilmartin, rev. Enright (reread/finished)
*The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. Annotated by David Dodd (in progress)
*Saunders, George. The Braindead Megaphone (in progress)
*Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare’s poems (ed. Duncan-Jones and Woodhuysen) (in progress)