Songs For Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts (5-CD Box Set)
Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsys
Review by David Bowling
You can always tell that the Christmas season has begun by the increase in Box Set releases. One of latest is Songs For Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts by Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsys.
By mid 1969, Hendrix had disbanded the Experience quickly assembled his Band Of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. Their live debut was a series of four concerts, December 31, 1969-January 1, 1970, at the legendary Fillmore East in New York City. It was a rare Hendrix concert that was professionally recorded as he owed the Capital Record Label an album due to an old contractual issue and planned to fulfill that contract with a live recording.
Some of the music has been released but this is the first time all four sets are presented in their entirety and in chronological order. In addition to the 43 performances, there is also a 40 page booklet with photos and informative essays.
The gem of the release is the first disc that contains the afternoon concert of December 31. The 11 song set consisted of material that had not been previously released at that time. It was a leap of faith for Hendrix and his new band. Songs such as “Machine Gun,” “Isabella,” “Power Of Soul,” “Ezy Rider,” “Lover Man,” and “Burning Desire” pointed toward a new musical direction and that set remains unique in the vast catalogue of live Hendrix performances.
The other three performances, spread over four discs, are a mixture of newer and older material. One of the constants in all four concerts was the song “Machine Gun.” They remain some of Hendrix’s finest guitar performances. Material such as “Stone Free,” “Foxey Lady,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze” have been included on dozen’s of live Hendrix releases but with Miles and Cox and with the passage of time they take on new textures.
The Fillmore East Concerts were a unique interlude in the musical life of Jimi Hendrix. A couple months later, The Band Of Gypsys was gone and Hendrix would spend the remaining months of his life playing with Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and Cox as his primary bassist.
Songs For Groovy People: The Fillmore East Concerts is the best example of a style of music Hendrix was willing to explore but ultimately would not commit to long term. Nevertheless it remains an important statement by Hendrix and its nice to have the music back in circulation.