This four-CD box set illustrates again how the seed planted by Hendrix created a whole tree of rock guitar that still flourishes, although not at the level of creativity it did with Jimi. The music here is all alternate takes and previously unreleased stuff. And, it all re-establishes Jimi as the rock guitarist.
There’s too much here to break this down song-by-song, but here are some highlights. A live version of “Hey Joe” from Paris in ’66 is nothing short of awesome. An alternatate take of “Third Stone From the Sun” highlights Jimi’s great sense of humor in the spoken intro, and then his great playing in the jazzy instrumental. It’s hard to believe the tongue-in-cheek blues of “Taking Care of No Business” has never been released. Throughout are alternate takes of clasics like “Purple Haze,” “If 6 was 9,” “Fire,” and more that show all of these as works in-progress. There’s some really cool unreleased stuff like “It’s Too Bad” with great playing and uncharacteristically political Jimi commentary.
All in all, there’s over four hours of great music here. Put it with a beautiful purple velvet box and a comprehensive booklet, and you’ve got a winner. If you’re remotely interested in rock guitar or Hendrix, this is a must-have. Run – do not walk – to your nearest CD shop.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’01 issue.