By Gillian G. Gaar
Band of Gypsys: Live at The Fillmore East
Experience Hendrix/Legacy (88697 86944 9)
This DVD was originally released in 1999. There’s only one upgrade in this new edition, but if you’re an audiophile, it might be an important one for you. The Band of Gypsys footage is presented with two audio tracks, one in stereo, and one in a new 5.1 stereo surround mix by Jimi Hendrix’s original engineer, Eddie Kramer.
The DVD’s other feature is a documentary on the Band of Gypsys themselves. The documentary never digs too deeply; despite having the cooperation of both Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, their departure from the Jimi Hendrix Experience is skimmed over in seconds. And while black interviewees says the Band of Gypsys was part of Hendrix’s efforts to be more aligned with the black community, white interviewees say racial issues weren’t of much concern to Hendrix, a contradiction left hanging. It is interesting to hear Hendrix say after playing the same songs for so long he feels free to improvise, much different from performers today who focus on performing each song exactly as it sounds on the record.
Though much of it is used in the documentary, the live footage section presents all the existing footage from the Jan. 1, 1970, show, a total of eight songs. While it’s not the full set, as the only known footage of the Band of Gypsys in action, the Hendrix fan will find it well worth having.