[Album Review] The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Live In Maui

OK, let’s get it out of our system. 

I agree, the Jimi Hendrix releases will never stop.  

OK, now the comments will only be about the quality of this release, right?…

…Well, I guess the fact that he died 50 years ago and how his estate keeps finding ways to dip into the well of his short 4 year career is an extraordinary circumstance. 

Ok, you guys are right.  Comment away.   

For me, I’m a fan.  And I really do enjoy the effort the family is making to comprehensively release his material. 

Live in Maui began as part of Rainbow Bridge, a film that was described at the time as “Counter Culture”.  Think Hair or Woodstock… The Movie.  The architect of the film was Chuck Wein, who without any professional actors or a script involved was having trouble getting it financed.  That was until he had a loose agreement with Jimi Hendrix to provide the soundtrack.

It was Jimi’s new manager, Michael Jeffery who attached him to the film.  Jeffery got a million dollars out of Jimi’s label, Warner Bros. to complete Jimi’s Electric Lady Land recording studio, but he only used half of it.  The rest was put towards Jeffery’s ambition to break into the film business.  The film that caught his eye was Rainbow Bridge.

Since Jimi’s tunes were prominently featured in the latest indie darling Easy Rider, which cost $400,000 to make and went on to earn $60 million worldwide, finding investors to finance the rest of the film became a lot easier. 

One of Wein’s ideas for Rainbow Bridge was to have Jimi perform by a volcano in Maui.  I guess that one line in Voodoo Child (Slight Return), “I’m gonna stand right next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand” really had an effect on him.   Jimi would perform two short 40 to 50 minute sets over two days to provide the footage needed.

Unfortunately, Jimi’s untimely passing hit before he could begin work on the soundtrack, so some of Jimi’s previously unreleased (at the time) studio work was used instead.  This only aided to make Rainbow Bridge even more convoluted than it already was.  Instead of having Jimi write something appropriate for a scene, they just used whatever they could find.  If you ever wanted to see hippies doing yoga to Hey Baby (New Rising Sun), Rainbow Bridge has you covered. 

Only 17 minutes of the Maui shows made it into Rainbow Bridge, while the accompanying soundtrack mostly featured those studio cuts.  Live in Maui is the complete audio recordings of the live performances on 2 CDs, and a Blu-ray that includes a current 90 minute documentary on the event and every piece of video that was captured during both shows. 

See?  Comprehensive. 

I do really like the packaging for the set as all of the folds are all held together with a magnet.  My only problem is how the included booklet is left loose once you have it all open.  They could have at least given it a sleeve to hold it in place.

As for the content, the majority is worth owning. 

The audio recordings on the CDs are quite excellent.  These shows were recorded just two months prior to his passing, so this is the version of The Jimi Hendrix Experience that features Billy Cox on bass and they are in a fantastic groove.  Amazing considering the circumstances under which these were recorded.

The biggest issue the band had with recording on the side of a volcano was the wind.  This meant large pieces of foam were used as windsocks over all of the microphones.  

Despite the effort, the wind made none of Mitch Michell’s drum recordings useful.  Mitchell had to overdub his parts months after the fact.  Despite the praising of the job he did by several people in the doc, much of his playing doesn’t precisely match his movements that day.  It hardly matters though since he finds the groove and what he records is 100% appropriate.

And no matter the amount of professionalism that is apparent on stage, you can catch the band struggling in a few spots.  Jimi over sings at times like he does during Ezy Rider and the performances of songs like Dolly Dagger get a little low key.

But really, it was a near miracle these shows were pulled off at all.

The 90-minute documentary featured on the Blu-ray is a bit dry.  It has good info on the Maui shows, a lot of which you have just read in this review, but too often it shifts its focus on the failure of Rainbow Bridge.  As someone who is here for Jimi’s music and not interested in the boomer culture of the time, I found those parts dragged.  Overall, I think this doc would have made for a better fit on a Blu-ray for Rainbow Bridge instead.  

The Blu-ray’s real prize are the two performances themselves.  These are hardly complete as the crew either ran out of film or stopped recording both shows before they finished.  There were also times when “no cameras were rolling”, so the video cuts to this slate:

20201219_125741

Really weak, guys.  I know the crowd at the show was small so there probably wasn’t a ton of options for cutaway shots, but maybe some trivia on the slates would have been nice. 

When the cameras are rolling, you are in for a treat.  Watching Jimi perform like a pro while facing the wind and singing into a foam mattress is impressive.  The entire Blu-ray sports a phenomenal 5.1 DTS mix done by Eddie Kramer himself, and Jimi uses a Gibson Flying V for the 2nd show.  I think it might be the only time he has done this on film.  I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong.

I will keep buying these sets as long as the quality remains good, and Live In Maui does not disappoint me.  Despite the few gripes I have, overall this is a set that is well put together.  Worthy of my time, money, and collection.  

3.5/5

 

40 comments

  1. Cool info the history of this show and the drum dubs are interesting. It does seem crazy that they are still pulling stuff out of the hat after all these years. Glad some of it is still pretty good quality too. Great informative review.

    Liked by 1 person

                    1. My family always had one going at the cottage. We would even hang some of the more difficult ones on the wall. Some people had deer heads and the big fish they caught. We had completed jigsaw puzzles!

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  2. Your right about 50 years later still digging out stuff on Jimi’s 4 year career! This looks like a cool set and at least they let everyone know about the drum dubs! Amazing that this stuff is out there in 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the detail into this review and I get mad when there’s no sleeve for the booklet too, so I feel you! Jimi’s career was only four years and they’re still putting out material 50 years later? And I thought it was nuts that the Sex Pistols still had material put out, despite only having a two year career!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, Jimi never stopped recording so there was a ton of unreleased material after he died. Wikipedia even separates his posthumous disography. His label Reprise half ass most of the catalog for a few decades though. His estate has being doing a much better job since the mid-90s.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The man must have recorded most of his professional life which I’m thankful for. I’ve met Billy Cox a few times…he would hang out at my guitar techs business. No telling where Jimi would have gone with his guitar playing had he lived.

    Liked by 1 person

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