Maui 1970 (No Label)
Haleakala Volcano Crater, Maui, Hawaii, USA – July 30, 1970
Disc 1 (62:42) The Gemini Twins, Introduction By Chuck Wein, Spanish Castle Magic, Lover Man, Hey Baby (New Rising Sun), In From The Storm, Message To Love, Foxy Lady, Hear My Train A Comin’, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Fire, Purple Haze
Disc 2 (54:46) Introduction, Dolly Dagger, Villanova Junction, Ezy Rider, Red House, Freedom, Beginnings, Straight Ahead, Hey Baby (New Rising Sun), Midnight Lightning / Race With The Devil, Drum Solo, Stone Free incl. Hey Joe
In the summer of 1970 Jimi Hendrix played his final American concert on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii as part of the Chuck Wein’s movie about the Hawaiian Islands counterculture entitled Rainbow Bridge Vibratory Color/Sound Experiment. There was a small crowd of approximately 500 hippies present supposedly all by invitation only. Of course the site picked for filming was not at the actual Haleakala Volcano, the volcano is 10,000 feet above see level, it is sparse of vegetation, rocky and quite chilly as well, hardly a place for hippies to congregate and enjoy music. The final movie would feature only 17 minutes of actual footage of Jimi mostly due to issues with the recordings, it was extremely windy and Mitch Mitchell’s drums were not properly mic’d. At some point in time Alan Douglas had Mitch overdub drums to the recordings, reportedly he watched along with the footage to get as close as possible. Curiously, the posthumously released RainbowBridge album did not feature any material from the movie, but studio outtakes cultivated by Michael Jeffries and Eddie Kramer.
The Hendrix Maui recordings have long been in circulation on the bootleg market, vinyl releases were Incident at Rainbow Bridge Maui Hawaii (UDP 1310701), Hendrix Live In Hawaii (Hen Records 37-WCF), Last American Concert (Jupiter 444), Last American Concert (21465), Last British Concert / Last American Concert (Postage Records), Maui, Hawaii (TMOQ 71018), Rainbow Bridge (CBM 3213), and You Can’t Use My Name (Q9020). It also made a splash on the CD market as Last American Concert Vol. 1 (The Swingin’ Pig TSP CD 062), Last American Concert Vol. 2 (The Swingin’ Pig TSP CD 072), Voodoo Chile (Oil Well RSC 014 CD), The Rainbow Bridge Concert (Purple Haze Records HAZE001), Maui Hawaii (Scorpio JH-07010), and most recently Rainbow Bridge Colour-Sound Experiment (No Label). I do not have any version of this concert so was pleased to see this title released as it is basically a pressed CD version of a fan made project referred to as “Maui Wowee – Bob Terry Tapes”. Some enterprising fan took the most complete version of the soundboard recording and patched the missing parts with an audience recording making for the most complete version to date.
The main two soundboard sources are excellent, albeit with overdubbed drums, it’s easy to tell them apart as one is just a bit sharper and brighter. There are occasional low vocals due to Jimi’s proximity to his vocal mike and the high winds. There is also a very small bit of hiss but nothing distracting and a wonderful range of frequencies making it easy to turn up and enjoy at loud volumes as well. The audience source is good at best, clear with all instruments discernible yet very lo-fi, the fact that someone recorded the concert is amazing. It also sounds like the version of Hey Baby / In From The Storm from the 2013 Jimi Hendrix Experiment box set was used, the sound of the two songs is more crisp and clean that the rest of the soundboard. The patches are well handled, seamless and well done, not jarring making for a nice sounding transition.
Jimi was in fine shape and good mood for the two performances on Maui, four days prior he played his hometown of Seattle, Washington and had a chance to spend a few days with his family. This rest and relaxation certainly helped Jimi and for the two concerts on Maui, plays very well, inspired psychedelic improvised Blues Rock at its best. The first disc has two patches, first being 1:38 to 1:45 during Lover Man then as that song ends at the 2:35 mark the audience recording is used for the subsequent applause and the first 1:35 minutes of Hey Baby. There is also a small 10 second patch between Fire and Purple Haze, the audience patches between songs is quite illuminating as you can hear comments from the audience and how much they are digging the concert.
The first set is well played and features more of Jimi’s existing hits, from the blistering opener Spanish Castle Magic and the unique paring of Hey Baby and In From The Storm to an electric version of Voodoo Child, Hendrix bristles with creativity in his playing. Only the usually incredible Hear My Train A Comin’ falls into the average category, being the only slow blues in the set I would have expected Hendrix to soar rather than sound a bit bored.
The second set features Jimi playing a set of mostly newer material he was working on and were currently included in his 1970 concerts. Jimi’s playing on the five minute instrumental Villanova Junction is ethereal followed by the band exploding on Ezy Rider, the band is ripping and Hendrix has an aggressive tone in his voice. While Hear My Train of the first show failed to deliver, Red House during the second makes up for it, far more inspired and with Jimi’s love of the blues coming through. A 10 second patch between Red House and Freedom is present giving us Jimi playing a snippet of Freedom’s main riff, the next patch is the first 35 seconds of Beginnings. It is from here that the next several songs become a long jam session done in front of a live audience and they end the concert with a unique version of Stone Free and at the 3:41 mark Jimi breaks into Hey Joe then after 15 seconds abruptly goes into a frenzied riff without skipping a beat.
This unique performance by Jimi was reviewed by Ken Rosene, a reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser with a write up in its August 10, 1970 edition:
“The Jimi Hendrix Experience came on next and we were really ready. Joints were being passed all around us. Hendrix seemed ready too. He was in a much better mood than last year’s Waikiki Shell performance. Unfortunately the sound system wasn’t. From where I was sitting (middle front) all you could hear when Jimi was powering his guitar was just his guitar. Maybe Hendrix plans it that way, but if he does – it’s sure a big waste of talent in Mitch Mitchell and bassman Billy Cox. I was hoping it was only the first song but it lasted through the whole show, hearing Mitch only when Hendrix was playing soft (a rarity) and during his solo (fantastic – wasn’t it?). We had a little better luck hearing Billy Cox. He was only silenced when Hendrix was on a heavy power riff. Well, you may say, “His guitar was the only thing I came for,” then I’m sure you really enjoyed the concert because his guitar was right on. But we feel Jimi’s voice adds a lot to the sound and that too was only heard when he wasn’t on one of his power trips. All ’n’ all it was still a fine concert with Hendrix really getting it together for the standing ovation.”
The two picture disc CD’s are housed in a jewel case with inserts adorned with pictures of the concerts themselves and some copies come with a numbered sticker. No Label has been putting out some very nice Hendrix titles as of late, I have bought a couple and have a few more on my list to get in the near future. This title is an easy listen and will appeal to the casual buyer as well as the seasoned Hendrix collector.