Hendrix: Band of Gypsys Live at Fillmore East

It was a departure from the experimental rock of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, in that it featured an all-black rhythm section (as opposed to a formerly all-white one) and had a funky feel to its music. The DVD is a re-release, originally put out in 1999.

The “only known footage of the group in concert” is presented here, as well as a documentary discussing its formation, existence and breakup. The feature presents much of the concert footage between interviews, spicing up the uncharacteristically staid live show from Jimi. (The documentary explains that he knew he was being recorded for a CD, and thus wanted to concentrate on the music instead of a flamboyant performance.)

It’s a fascinating look at the life and times of Hendrix in the midst of his success. All four of his bandmates from The Experience and Band of Gypsys are interviewed, which is quite the coup. Among other notables, Lenny Kravitz and Slash gush over Hendrix (Kravitz for an almost inordinate amount of time). It’s a fascinating doc that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Of the performances in the concert section, “Machine Gun,” “Stepping Stone” and “Power of Soul” are knockouts. The really intriguing reason to watch the concert straight-through is to hear Hendrix’s between-songs banter. The most striking includes him congratulating the USC Trojans for “beating the hell out of Michigan” in the Jan. 1, 1970 Rose Bowl, which happened earlier that day. So much is made of Hendrix’s towering musical persona that it’s easy to forget he had other interests. —Stephen Carradini

Stephen Carradini

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