The posthumous Jimi Hendrix releases 'keep a comin' ' , and this latest People, Hell and Angels from SONY/Legacy and the Hendrix estate features mostly familiar songs but unreleased versions that will certainly be of interest to the casual to rabid fan of the late guitar god. Produced by Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer, & John McDermott, you just know that the quality of these recordings are going to be presented in the best possible way, and the fact is that this is certainly the case. While some may scoff at People, Hell and Angels as just another cash grab and further emptying of the vaults, there's actually some really cool stuff here that makes it a worthwhile purchase.
"Earth Blues" was recorded in 1969 at the Record Plant in New York City, and features Hendrix alongside bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, the three of them making up the Band of Gypsies. This studio track was recorded in the studio prior to the band playing their historic gig at the Fillmore East on New Years Eve later that year, and signals the funky direction Jimi was moving towards. A different take of this song appeared on the release Rainbow Bridge in 1971 after Jimi's death, but this one included here is the Band of Gypsies trio with no added overdubs. It's a scorching, groove laden funk rocker with some killer guitar work & vocals from Hendrix. "Somewhere" is one of the real treats here, recorded in early 1968, and has remained mostly unreleased save for inclusion on the 2000 Jimi Hendrix Experience box set. Recorded at one of the many sessions for Electric Ladyland, the song also features Miles on drums and CSN&Y member Steven Stills on bass. It's an exciting rocker, with scorching wah-wah laced solos from Hendrix and Miles' crashing drum work. "Hear My Train a Comin' " has made many appearances over the years, and this version, from May 21, 1969, also features the Band of Gypsies trio on their 3rd take of the song from that session. As all other versions of this classic track seem to include, Jimi's guitar work is on fire here. From that same session we also get the slow blues of "Bleeding Heart", a previously unreleased version.
An interesting track is the 1969 recording "Let Me Move You", featuring Jimi jamming with sax player Jimmy Youngblood and his band. It's mostly a R&B/funk rave-up, but Hendrix gets in some great wah-wah licks throughout. "Izabella" also makes an appearance, recorded at the Hit Factory on August 28,1969, shortly after debuting the song live at Woodstock, and he's got his then new ensemble Gypsy Suns & Rainbows with him for this one. While it's a noteworthy inclusion here, the version from Woodstock towers over this one. From that same session we also have "Easy Blues", a jazzy instrumental that is a drastic change of pace from what we'd normally expect from Hendrix at that time. "Crash Landing" from a April 24, 1969 session at the Record Plant also 'lands' in this set, but this is a completely different take than what was seen previously on the album of the same name released in 1975. It's kind of a mellow, jazzy funk piece, but does have some nice guitar licks. "Inside Out" is a basic variation on the "Ezy Rider" theme, recorded during the 1968 Electric Ladyland sessions by Jimi and Mitch Mitchell, with the guitarist later adding the bass part himself due to conflicts rising with Noel Redding. Originally appearing on the 1975 release Midnight Lightning, "Hey Gypsy Boy" was recorded at the Record Plant on March 18, 1969 by Hendrix, Miles, and an unknown bassist, and this slow, groovy take was the eighth of that session. Jimi's guitar work is extraordinary on this brief piece. To round out the set we have a fun R&B/funk jam with vocalist Albert Allen and some other unknown musicians, "Mojo Man", recorded at Muscle Shoals in Alabama 1969, and an early and very short take on "Villanova Junction Blues" , which would just a few short months later debut at Woodstock.
If you happen to have a Target store near you, they have a special edition with a near 20 minute jam "Ezy Rider/MLK Jam (Captain Coconut)", recorded in January 1970 at the Record Plant and featuring the Band of Gypsies. If you love to hear lots of Hendrix guitar soloing, you'll want to get this version. Overall, this is a hot set of some unearthed Hendrix rarities, edited and patched together from the vaults by Eddie Kramer, and well worth your attention. Toss in a great booklet filled with photos and info, and you have a very nice little Hendrix set, which just might be the last we see.
1) Earth Blues
3) Hear My Train A Comin'
4) Bleeding Heart
5) Let Me Move You
7) Easy Blues
8) Crash Landing
9) Inside Out
10) Hey Gypsy Boy
11) Mojo Man
12) Villanova Junction Blues
13) Ezy Rider/MLK Jam (Captain Coconut)-official Target bonus track