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4.8 out of 5 stars23
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 20 October 2003
It's a fantastic concert.
This is the latest in a series of wonderful releases from Experience Hendrix over the past few years. It is clear that the Hendrix Estate aren't sure of the best way to market Jimi's live concerts, and they've tried a range of approaches. "Live at Fillmore East" was a 2CD compilation from four concerts - a great set for the casual fan but the serious completists complained that they would rather have had a box set of all four shows in their entirety. The Isle of Wight concert ("Blue Wild Angel") was released in two formats, a single CD of highlights for the casual fan and a 2CD set for the serious completists - so everyone was happy. Now the second of the two Berkeley concerts has been released in its entirety, and I would suggest this is good news for both the casual fan and the completist.
Personally I would have preferred a complete set of both concerts, perhaps marketed like "Blue Wild Angel", but on balance I'm pleased that Experience Hendrix have opted to issue this concert in its entirety. Perhaps the first show will follow in due course.
The second concert was the better of the two shows and altogether a much tighter show. OK, the two most famous Berkeley recordings "Hear my train a coming" and "Blue Suede Shoes" were highlights of the first show and need to be in any Jimi collection, but most fans will already have them already on the "Voodoo Child" set or the "Experience" Box Set anyway. The first show peaked early with those two fantastic tracks and rambled a bit in the second half when Jimi was suffering from tuning problems.
But let's concentrate on this new release of the second show. First of all, the sound and the mix are fantastic and knock spots off the bootleg tapes that have been circulating for years. The performance is tight, enthusiastic, energetic and a joy from beginning to end. There's a killer sequence of tracks at the opening - "Pass it on" (a fascinating work in progress), followed by "Hey Baby" (new to both the band and the audience and sounding as fresh as a daisy), "Lover Man" (the definitive version previously available on "In the West", complete with the "Flight of the Bumble Bee" solo"), and tight renditions of "Stone Free" and "Hey Joe". You are halfway through the concert before Jimi even pauses for breath! The rest of the concert is largely Jimi's standard 1970 show closers but - with the possible exception of "Foxy Lady", where Jimi has a tuning problem and changes guitar half-way through - all are close to definitive performances, with "Machine Gun" and "Voodoo Chile" particular standouts.
The proof of this CD is in the listening. It is a fantastic concert for the newcomer and the completist. It's certainly not a wasted opportunity. A compilation of both Berkeley concerts definitely would have been a wasted opportunity, and the Hendrix Estate should be congratulated for not going down that easy route. Maybe one day we'll get an official release of the first concert, but I suspect we'll still play this one more.
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on 19 October 2003
Let me clear up a few inaccuracies with the rather lamentable one-star review of this live disc. This is the second show Hendrix (with Mitchell and Cox) played at the Berkeley Community Centre on his final US tour in 1970. Unlike patchy shows at Atlanta and Hawaii which have crept onto the market, the Berkeley concerts represent a glorious slice of the live Hendrix experience (the pun was stubbornly not intended). Hendrix and co's first show included the aforementioned 'Johnny B Goode' and 'Hear My Train', two epochal slices of Hendrix's inimitable technique and the astonishing interplay of this tight and innovative band. These are both available for the record on other Experience Hendrix titles. Aside from an astonishing 'Machine Gun' and an inspired take on 'Red House' (2 songs which rarely let Hendrix down in concert) that first Berkeley concert is not the equal of the second show this disc presents. 'Hey Baby' features one of Hendrix's greatest live guitar tones, and a robust vocal; 'Lover Man' is presented in its definitive version (fans will recognise it as the version on the 1971 LP Hendrix In The West); 'Hey Joe' and 'Purple Haze' were frequently tossed off by Hendrix with minimal emotional involvement, but these readings are an exception to this rule. It is immensly rewarding to hear Hendrix in such fine and confident singing voice on these numbers. 'Machine Gun' is an aural hurricane, and Voodoo Child boasts some of Hendrix's most lyrical playing. One could concoct a whole songbook using the tunes and motifes Hendrix pulls out of the bag on this lengthy reading.
The accompanying film, 'Jimi Plays Berkeley' is frustrating due to the rough editing of tracks, but just because that film is a poor document does not in any way diminish the stature of this disc. Woodstock and Isle of Wight were released, I believe, out of necessity by the Hendrix family. EVERYONE knows Hendrix played Woodstock so it was bound to sell, and the Isle of Wight of course had the coup of being the last soundboard recording of a Hendrix show. Finally, with this disc, it seems that the Hendrix family are unearthing tapes and releasing them (as with 'Hendrix at the Fillmore East') on the merit of the music. On this night, the music most certainly worked.
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on 21 October 2003
This is an indispensible show in great sound. It doesn't have the superb tracks from the earlier Berkeley concert, but it's a record of the second show, OK?
Of course, it escapes me why on earth Experience Hendrix didn't release the first show as well. Perhaps they were afraid of putting two double sets on the market one after the other (the other was last year's Isle of Wight set), but most Hendrix fans will buy everything anyway.
The most likely explanation, unless they've lost the tapes (oh no!) is that the Experience Hendrix is saving the first show up for another day.
Anyhow, I really like this show, from its loose beginnings, to the great versions of Hey Baby, Machine Gun and Voodoo Chile.
The sound, helped by the fact that this was an indoor show, is warm, full and you can hear the drums properly for a change.
The band is really tight, more so than some of the other bootlegged shows of this era, or the Atlanta show a few weeks later.
The cover and notes are a bit lacking and also confusing in that they have photos from the first and second shows. Overall, but, a good package and a good intro to the enjoyment within.
But, EH, please please please give us the first show as well!
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on 7 November 2011
Great to have this as the companion to the official 2nd show release from a couple of years back. Yes, some individual tracks have already seen the light of day over the years, most noticably the classic Johnny B. Goode and the definative Hear My Train a Comin', but it's great to have them all together as one set. I believe only Star Spangled Banner and Purple Haze have been omitted, and that's probably due to the running time of the hole show not being able to fit onto the one disc but it's good that this disc has had other songs included instead,like Ezy Rider and Freedom. Although not an official release, the sound quality is remarkably good. You could play the 1st & 2nd show back to back and have a fantastic night of Jimi playing a whole host of different songs from his repatoire with some fantastic playing besides. Such a shame the dvd will never be re-released in full to accompany the shows cd releases.
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on 4 June 2004
I think this is the first complete set of Jimi I've owned, after piles of old vinyl releases knocked up from various nights and setlists. Makes a big difference, hearing Jimi put a whole set together, his focus coming and going, but mostly coming.
I love this period of Hendrix's music. Never got much out of the Experience. Too focused in the studio on a commercial three minutes for my taste, and most of the live stuff is a bit compromised. Jimi searching for a balance between the showman and the musician, and not quite finding it. Things really get going for me with the Band of Gypsies stuff. All the time in the world for Jimi to stretch out and just play, and finally with Billy Cox a bass player who can lay down a groove.
Berkeley brings Mitch Mitchell back on drums, keeps Cox on bass, for Jimi's greatest working band. He's in good voice here for a change and the live sound is excellent. His guitar playing is at the same level as the Band of Gypsies concerts and he sounds like he's actually enjoying playing Foxey Lady and Purple Haze for the thousandth time.
I put this just ahead of the Band of Gypsies releases for the presence of Mitch Mitchell, and for keeping the full running order of the set. By the way, after some research I discovered that if you have Band of Gypsies and the Fillmore concert (and a multi cd changer!) you can program the whole of 1.1.70 set2 minus the encores. Which is very cool, but makes it even more frustrating that those concerts haven't been reissued complete.
One last thing - Experience Hendrix really should follow Sony/Columbia's reissue example and make this stuff mid-price.
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on 2 January 2009
Hendrix seems under pressure in this performance and his vocals are sometimes an octave higher than usual. There is a slightly pursued, excited quality about his guitar too but the flight is still fluent and coherent, albeit without the magisterial quality he sometimes has at his best.
Cox is solid without doing anything particularly interesting or exciting.
Mitchell is more integrated into the texture than usual.
Most Hendrix other concerts available on CD are disappointing but I would say 'Winterland Night' is the best.
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on 18 February 2012
This album will knock your block off!

But before that you will need a track listing:-
01 Fire
02 Johnny B. Goode
03 Hear My Train A'Comin'
04 Foxy Lady
05 Machine Gun
06 Freedom
07 Red House
08 Message to Love
09 Ezy Rider
10 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

The first 5 tracks at least are as good as anything I have heard of Jimi playing live, if not better. "Fire" and "Johnny B. Goode" gets the concert off to a red-hot start and show that Jimi means business. They are played with such verve and enthusiasm that sets the momentum for the rest of the set. It's simply fantastic rock and roll.

I've always like the acoustic version of "Train" rather than the electric but this is probably the best electric version I've heard with the "magic boy" on top form. "Foxy Lady" is simply great Rock-blues and still there is no let-up. On to a "Machine Gun" that is different from the definitive "Band of Gypsys" version but just as powerful with the great ironic line "even though we're only families apart" leaving you realising that his genius was not just instrumental. I've always thought that it was the beauty of the lyrics set against the dynamism of the playing that held the key to this song.

There is a great version of "Red House", a track that was not originally a favourite of mine but this sounds amazing. But the version of "Voodoo Chile" brings a finale to a great concert with Jimi showing breathtaking controlled power and grace in his playing. There is a section in this song where Jimi decides to get melodic and shows an emotional beauty and expression in his playing before he soars off again leaving you wondering what this guy had that other mere mortals didn't.

For me this beats the late Berkeley show hands down, and even that has some great moments. Anyway that's just my take on it. I'm not a musician but if you play guitar or are a fan of Jimi's then this album is a must buy.
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2012
I bought this on the strength of Here My Train a Comin' which I had on RAINBOW BRIDGE (Original Soundtrack). The opportunity to get the rest of the concert was too great to worry about whether the recording was going to be awful. Howevr, and luckily, it's a great concert and a great recording released by the Michael Jeffery estate, which seems to has the advantage that they left it alone rather than remixed it so you could "experience Hendrix" cf Winterland.
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This CD is an amazing live performance by Jimi Hendrix. Although I love the Woodstock concert, I feel this is a better example of Jimi Live. His playing is more coherent, the sound is better, the band is tighter and the choice of songs are perfect. As usual with Experience Hendrix releases there is an excellent booklet with plenty of information and pictures and the overall packaging is great. 'Stone Free' stands out for me on this CD, but to be honest the whole collection is just superb. If you want to a great example of Jimi's live work then you can't go far wrong with this, well worth a listen.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 19 October 2003
I HAVE listened to this album and it is stunning. For the benefit of the misguided individual who wrote the first (non-) review, Hear My Train was from the first show, Johnny B Goode from the soundcheck. This is a release of the complete second show so it wouldn't be expected to include either. In my opinion, Hear My Train at Berkeley is the best thing Hendrix ever recorded but I still wouldn't expect it out of context (again), I have Rainbow Bridge for that. If you love Hendrix, buy this and buy it now. Then subscribe to Jimpress and Univibes to stay ahead of the game.
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