Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys Fillmore East Concert Review (1970)

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SKF NOTE: I was barely sixteen years old when the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album was released. Jimi Hendrix on guitar/vocals, Mitch Mitchell on drums, and Noel Redding on bass. Theirs was such a great unique sound that stretched across three albums: Are You Experienced? (May 1967), Axis Bold As Love (December 1967), and Electric Ladyland (October 1968). The Experience disbanded in 1969 and Hendrix died, age 27, in 1970.

Tucked in between the demise of the Hendrix Experience and the guitarist’s death, Hendrix, drummer Buddy Miles, and bassist Billy Cox performed and recorded a New Year’s Eve concert at the Fillmore East (January 1970), released a few tracks from the concert in March 1970 as the Band of Gypsys. Six months later Jimi Hendrix was dead.

I was never a great fan of Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys album. An unfair comparison, perhaps, but to my ears the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a tough act to follow. An impossible act to follow, really. But, almost a half-century later, I would like to give the Band of Gypsys another listen. The original album has since been released with added songs. Also, there are two more albums from that concert: Machine Gun Jimi Hendrix The Fillmore East 12/31/1969 (FIRST SHOW), and Live at The Fillmore East.

Chris Albertson, a respected music writer’s, review of the Band of Gypsys New Years’ Eve concert, was published in Down Beat March 5, 1970, providing us an interesting man-on-the-scene report. I will let Albertson’s review stand on its own — with one exception. Based on my limited listening to Band of Gypsys — this was not Buddy Miles’s finest hour. Perhaps it is the trio format. But Buddy Miles was exceptional on The Electric Flag A Long Time Comin’ album, and on his own, Them Changes. Comparing Miles playing to jazz drummers is pointless. (Plus, this has nothing to do with music, but Buddy Miles’s classic six-piece American Flag drumset remains a classic.)

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