Jimi Hendrix @ Fillmore East (Nearly) Complete: Review

Share This:

The new Jimi Hendrix release, Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts, isn’t the first album—or even the second, third or fourth—to result from his four-set engagement at the New York venue on Dec. 31, 1969, and Jan. 1, 1970. Band of Gypsys, which came out only a few months after the shows, whetted appetites with six tracks. Then came Band of Gypsys 2 (1986), which included three more numbers (all of which also surfaced as bonus tracks on a 1991 Japanese and European version of the original album). The Fillmore East Concerts, a two-CD 1999 set, culled 16 performances from all four sets; and, in 2016, we got Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show, which delivered all 11 tracks from the initial New Year’s Eve set.

Watch the album trailer

Now, nearly half a century after the concerts took place, we finally have the whole enchilada. (Well, almost: the recordings of a few numbers from the second New Year’s Eve show evidenced technical problems and were deemed not releasable.) This five-CD (or eight-LP), 43-song box features a new mix and no edits and presents all of its material in the order that Hendrix and his band originally performed it. The package incorporates eight performances that have never before been issued in any form; three that had been available only as part of a concert film; 12 that are back in print on CD and LP for the first time in a decade; and another four that represent longer, unedited versions of previously released material.

The material fully justifies the multiple releases, including this comprehensive new set. Hendrix was at a turning point when he gave these concerts with the recently formed Band of Gypsys, which found former bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell replaced by Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, respectively. The Fillmore shows were the new group’s first live gigs, and they produced the first and only concert LP authorized by Hendrix during his lifetime.

Related: This collection is included in our 2019 box set gift guide

The sets include a few nods to earlier material, including one performance each of “Fire,” “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Wild Thing,” and two explorations of “Foxey Lady.” The guitarist also celebrates the arrival of 1970 with a version of “Auld Lang Syne” in his inimitable style. For the most part, though, these performances focus on new Hendrix material, including “Machine Gun,” “Message of Love,” “Power of Soul” and “Stone Free,” as well as two tracks by Buddy Miles that feature him on lead vocal: “Changes” and “We Gotta Live Together.”

Listen to “Ezy Rider” from the second New Year’s Eve set

This music is less jazz-influenced, less psychedelic and less melodic than earlier releases; instead, it offers large doses of funk and soul. But as on prior LPs, Hendrix’s guitar pyrotechnics rarely leave the spotlight. He works wonders with his instrument throughout, and absolutely dazzles on tracks like “Machine Gun” (a highlight of all four sets here), where he coaxes sounds from the instrument that no one had ever quite heard it make before.

Listen to “Foxey Lady” from the second set on Dec. 31

You’re more than a little late to catch these historic shows at the Fillmore. But now at least you can nearly hear every note.

Listen to the previously unreleased “Message to Love,” from the second New Year’s Eve performance

Jimi Hendrix – Songs For Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts 5-CD Track Listing
12/31/69 1st Set:
Disc One
1) Power Of Soul
2) Lover Man
3) Hear My Train A Comin’
4) Changes
5) Izabella
6) Machine Gun
7) Stop
8) Ezy Ryder
9) Bleeding Heart
10) Earth Blues
11) Burning Desire

12/31/69 2nd Set:
Disc Two
1) Auld Lang Syne%
2) Who Knows%
3) Fire
4) Ezy Ryder*
5) Machine Gun%
6) Stone Free
7) Changes*
8) Message To Love*
9) Stop*
10) Foxey Lady

1/1/70 1st Set:
Disc Three
1) Who Knows
2) Machine Gun
3) Changes+
4) Power Of Soul%
5) Stepping Stone%
6) Foxey Lady+
7) Stop%
8) Earth Blues+
9) Burning Desire%

1/1/70 2nd Set:
Disc Four
1) Stone Free%
2) Power Of Soul#
3) Changes#
4) Message To Love#
5) Machine Gun%
6) Lover Man*
7) Steal Away*
8) Earth Blues%

Disc Five
1) Voodoo Child (Slight Return)%
2) We Gotta Live Together#
3) Wild Thing%
4) Hey Joe*
5) Purple Haze*

*previously unreleased
+first time on CD/LP/streaming (previously only available as part of concert film)
#longer, unedited versions of previously released material, and newly remixed
%back in print on CD/LP for the first time in a decade, and newly remixed

Jeff Burger

1 Comment so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Amazing Shows
    #1 Amazing Shows 25 December, 2019, 00:41

    I went to all of these shows (4) & Hendrix was at the top of his game. He was more relaxed, more bluesy & played new material with new musicians. The sets were a bit different but for all intents & purposes Jimi played the same music. I remember Bill Graham stating that of all the shows he put on at the Fillmore East & West, this was the best by far. My only complaint was Buddy Miles. He wanted (at times) to take over the spotlight. At one point he wanted us up and clapping which annoyed the shit out of me but Jimi was fucking amazing those 2 nights….truly unforgettable.

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.