Fillmore East 1968 2nd Show (No Label)
Fillmore East, New York City, NY, USA – May 10, 1968 (2nd Show)
(62:30) Lover Man, Fire, Foxy Lady, Red House, Hey Joe, Sunshine Of Your Love, Hear My Train A Comin’, Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?, Purple Haze, Wild Thing
Jimi Hendrix’ concert schedule for May 1968 was pretty light and much of his time was spent in the studio working on music that would be released on the iconic Electric Ladyland record. Hendrix would spend much of the month at the newly opened Record Plant in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City with Chas Chandler producing and famed engineer Eddie Kramer twinkling the knobs so to speak. It was therefore convenient for Jimi to play two concerts on the 10th at the famed Fillmore East, promoter Bill Graham’s famed 2,600 theatre in Lower Manhattan, the late show is the subject of this new release from the folks at No Label.
The recording from the Fillmore East 2nd show has been circulating for years and has been found on at least three CD titles, It’s Only A Paper Moon (Luna Records LU 9420), Miami Special (Rattle Snake RS 190), and City To The Sticks (Shout To The Top STTP 166). All three are incomplete and feature a common version of the tape that featured applause edited between songs from another recording of unknown origin. This new release features the original recording with no overdubs and is the most complete version circulating.
The source is a very good, near excellent audience recording, sometimes this circulates as a soundboard but this is merely false advertising. The sound is clear with all instruments being heard but like many Hendrix recordings, the guitar and vocals are in the foreground. There is a bit of hiss present as one would expect, there are cuts between songs and Wild Thing is incomplete fading out at the 3:13 mark. When compared to the Shout To The Top title City To The Sticks, the sound is much better, clearer, better dynamics featuring an improved upper end while maintaining its bottom end and is a wonderful upgrade to the older title.
Jimi’s performance is very good, he is in a great mood and while he is harassed by equipment issues the Experience turn in a really good show for the Big City crowd. The band open with Lover Man, a reworking of B.B. Kings Rock Me Baby and where he usually starts with his vocals, he rips into a searing solo, yup he is in one of those moods. He takes a minute to apologize for the sound and one can hear his amplifiers buzzing, this leads right into a furious version of Fire, one can still hear the buzzing with no regard from the band as they play a fast version of the song certainly to address the situation. There is a tape cut while they sort out the issue and we get to hear some fun banter between Jimi and Noel as they fill in some of the down time, they seem unfazed by it and after all is remedied they get into a nice and fat version of Foxy Lady. Jimi’s solo is again superb and seems to soar to the upper reaches of the old Village theater.
The buzz is mostly eliminated for Red House, mainly because Jimi switches from his Strat to a Les Paul, the sound is fat and mean sounding now and Jimi slowly gets into a beautiful version of the Blues. Clocking in at nearly 17 minutes the song has the feeling of Jimi not knowing how blue he his, sometimes focused, sometimes meandering in the best way, feeling his way through the Gibson like she was a new woman. Mitch plays a short drum solo and Hendrix uses this as a cue to go back to his Strat and comes out with a wah pedal whammy bar workout, too late as the focus is gone, interesting version with some hot moments but not killer.
Hey Joe is an average version and Sunshine Of Your Love is nothing but a 30 second tease after which Jimi says they’ll next do something by The Monkees, again the jovial mood is evident. While Red House never really gets off the foundation, Hear My Train A Comin’ makes up for it, Jimi says they’ve never played it before and he had just written it. He is back to playing the Les Paul and if anything seems like he is again feeling his way around the guitar but his blues is far more focused than Red House and has some really fine moments. A fun version of Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? is played fast and ends with a bit of Shave and a hair cut two bits.
Purple Haze follows with a feedback driven wall of sound as only Jimi could do, fuzzed out goodness ensues as the Experience plays one of their biggest hits. Wild Thing finishes the concert, drenched in acid driven feedback, a thing of beauty clocking in at just over three minutes, Jimi seems headed for the upper reaches when the recording sadly cuts.
The packaging is very nice, the front cover features the concert poster art by David Byrd, the inner and back inserts feature mainly live shots of Hendrix in full flight. Yup there is a picture disc and numbered sticker, yes it’s all here. Another fine Hendrix release, a great upgrade to the older versions and as complete a recording as we’ll ever get make this title a winner.