The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Miami Pop Festival
Sandwiched between the more famous Monterey and Woodstock music festivals, the Miami Pop Festival of May 1968 was notable for being the first major event of its kind on the east coast of the US. Co-promoted by Michael Lang, who would later bring Woodstock to the flower children of the Catskills, the two-day festival was hampered by bad weather, with the Sunday schedule cancelled due to heavy rains. Nevertheless, the original line-up read like a 'Who's Who' of late 60s counterculture, with headliners The Jimi Hendrix Experience supported by, among others, Blue Cheer, The Mothers of Invention and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Having already spent most of the year touring the States, TJHE were well rehearsed and this live recording of their set was captured by pro-engineer Eddie Kramer, who would go on to work on Electric Ladyland.
Given the amount of Hendrix material that already circulates, it's easy to take him for granted but Miami Pop Festival is a fine, exciting record of what he, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell could get up to on stage. There's always a playfulness to Hendrix's demeanour ("Move over Rover - and let Jimi take over!") but that never disguises the energy and aggression at the heart of familiar numbers like 'Hey Joe' and 'Foxy Lady'. The decent soundboard recording really gives Mitchell the chance to shine; while Keith Moon still attracts the plaudits, Mitchell's Muppet-like way round a kit gets less notice - which is a shame, as it's often the frantic nature of the rhythm section that underpins Hendrix's six-string fireworks. The slow blues of 'Hear My Train A Comin'' gets only its second ever live airing and is still slightly tentative (you can hear Hendrix talk off-mic with his colleagues, reminding them of the rhythm) yet showcases the roots of Hendrix's music. Two bonus tracks come from The Experience's afternoon set, rounding out a really worthwhile package for the Hendrix aficianado.