Yet another compilation, albeit one with a difference
In 2000, Experience Hendrix/MCA released the four CD boxed set The Jimi Hendrix Experience, a then mammoth and unprecedented compendium of previously unheard recordings made by the late guitarist between 1967 and 1970. And then, in 2001, came Voodoo Child – The Jimi Hendrix Collection, a 2CD compilation of studio and live material, aimed squarely at both novice and collector alike, something which begs the question: was this just another cynical ploy to get as many Hendrix devotees to dish out their hard earned dollars? The answer to that could be, well, yes and no, depending on how distrusting you are of record companies.
So, to buy, or not to buy, that is the question. 12 of the first disc’s 18 tracks are all available on Jimi’s original albums, with a further 4 appearing on JHE and South Saturn Delta. All of it amazing, but of course nothing new in the way of rarities.
However the compilers have cleverly added two recordings not previously heard since the early ‘70s – the blink and you missed it Band Of Gypsys versions of “Izabella” and “Stepping Stone,” both of which were issued as a single in April 1970, and are unique in that they are the original mixes (with just slight variations) and contain alternate guitar and drum tracks Jimi would later replace as he continued to work on his fourth studio LP. Anoraks rejoice!
Though it will be the second disc that will make any Jimi addicts palms sweat, in that it includes 12 live tracks, half of them either previously unreleased or unavailable before on CD – pretty exciting, at least in theory. Because what we have is an assemblage of tracks originally heard on albums from the ‘70s and ‘80s. “Hear My Train A Comin” and “Johnny B. Goode,” from 30th May 1970, and “Wild Thing,” from 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival, are as explosive as ever, but hardly revelatory to anyone who has listened to them a hundred times over.
Jimi’s sizzling (and then controversial) 1969 rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” from Woodstock is included, along with strident versions of “Fire” and “Hey Joe” from Winterland in October 1968. Pretty much everything here will already be familiar to long time fans and Hendrix scholars, who’ll no doubt salivate over Hendrix’s performance of “Foxy Lady,” from Maui, Hawaii 30th July 1970, and a passionate “Red House,” captured at The New York Pop Festival July 1970.
Considering that MCA had previously released a compilation in 1998 featuring many of the same tracks, one has to wonder whether The Jimi Hendrix Collection was and remains really all that essential. Well, for a start, this is the only place where the listener can obtain the original “Izabella” and “Stepping Stone” by the Band Of Gypsys, as well as live versions of “Foxy Lady” (Maui) and “Red House” (Randall’s Island), something which will make this compilation extremely desirable to any Hendrix obsessive.