The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s two performances at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London on 18th and 24th February 1969 have remained some of the most sought after recordings by Hendrix collectors over the years, and for one good reason – the band were on fire!
And while both gigs were professionally recorded, the release of either show in complete form has yet to materialise, due to legal disputes over who owns the actual rights to the music.
Numerous audience and soundboard tapes have emerged, providing proof of just how spectacular these shows really were, however the only official evidence were two albums released in the early ‘70s. The first of these, Experience, by the Ember Label, was an attempt to highlight at least a portion of the JHE’s second concert, in what was perhaps an effort to present the guitarist in a previously unheard light.
Good idea, in theory. Except the track selection was hardly inspired. First is a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love,” so far so good. The song had been a favourite of Jimi’s since late ’68, performing it regularly in concert, so for him to play it in front of an English audience would have seemed appropriate.
“Room Full Of Mirrors” is little more than a loose blues jam with Chris Wood and Dave Mason of Traffic joining the group. This version is far looser than what would ultimately appear on the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack, recorded just several months later with The Band Of Gypsys.
Hendrix’s interpretation of Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart” is superb, and easily the best track of the LP, like an Albert King on LSD. Although “Wild Thing,” titled here as “Smashing Of The Amps” is a disaster zone of feedback and destruction. Obviously he had learnt a thing or two by watching The Who, or more particularly Pete Townsend, whose penchant for breaking his guitar on stage no doubt left an indelible impression on the young guitarist from Seattle.
So, is this album worth tracking down? Absolutely not. One would be better off with any number of reissues, unofficial as they may be, some of which contain slightly superior sound and greater value for money. Until Experience Hendrix sort out their dispute with Goldstein, albums such as these will have to do.