The Magician With The Guitar (Rattlesnake RS 254)
Halle Munsterland, Munster, Germany – January 14, 1969
(59:43) Come On, Spanish Castle Magic, Red House, Fire, Foxy Lady, All Along The Watchtower, Hey Joe, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Purple Haze
The Jimi Hendrix Experience finished up 1968 with some live dates in the USA. After about five weeks off they resumed touring in Europe starting in Sweden on January 7th, 1969. This would be the final European tour to feature Noel Redding on bass.
Rattlesnake, a label that has provided Hendrix collectors with many quality products in the past, is back again with this latest offering. There are at least two recordings for Jimi’s show in Munster on January 14th, 1969. The first source to surface was incomplete missing the first two tracks. A second source started circulating in 2007 and is complete and is presumably what is being used for this new Rattlesnake title.
The audience source is good but a bit uneven as far as the mix goes with the occasional dropout and dip in volume from time to time. Thankfully, for Jimi fans, his guitar is the loudest in the mix with the bass and drums pushed to the back. Hendrix’s vocal is also distant in the mix as with a lot of Hendrix audience sources from this time period. No doubt the PA had a hard time keeping up with the sheer volume the Experience was putting out.
Jimi’s opens the Munster show with his cover of Earl King’s “Come On (Part 1)”. This has been recently added to the set and they perform a blistering version very similar to the version from Electric Ladyland only with extended solos. Hendrix’s vocal can be faintly heard in the breaks in the verse but his guitar playing is totally on tonight. “Spanish Castle Magic” follows. Jimi’s aggressive playing style sees his guitar going out of tune during the track, something Hendrix collectors are no stranger to.
Hendrix announces “something that we recorded about two and a half years ago…it’s called Red House”. Jimi’s vehicle for a total blues exploration, he would often stretch the track out to great lengths with tonight’s version reaching about 13 minutes. The verses are interspersed with call and answer between his vocal and guitar allowing his vocals to be heard a bit easier. There is a slight cut at 8:38 that doesn’t appear to be missing very much. The track gets very dynamic with Jimi playing by himself for a few moments in the middle but soon after Mitch and Noel join back in and Hendrix proceeds to wail beyond belief.
After overwhelming audience chants for “Fire”, Jimi asks “What song do you want to hear right now?” Jimi obliges and delivers a quick smoking version (no pun intended) of his classic. “Foxy Lady” is dedicated to all the girls here. You can hear Hendrix playing part of the solo with his teeth as the track proceeds to destroy the crowd.
A cut in the tape (no music lost) leads us to the first known live appearance of “All Along The Watchtower”. A track that seems like it would be difficult to reproduce in a live environment, they do an admirable job with Hendrix successfully touching on all the themes in the song. More tuning precedes a standard reading of “Hey Joe” and Jimi is thanking everyone for coming tonight.
He tells the audience that they will be playing two more songs and the chukka-chukka from Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal leads into “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. The band cuts loose and continues to pulverize the German crowd with pure Experience. He includes a reference to “Gypsy Eyes” in his guitar melody. Jimi thanks the crowd again before unleashing his closing song, “Purple Haze”. Preceded by lots of noise and feedback, the song delivers as it should no doubt sending the crowd into a hysterical haze. There are several cuts/drop outs but we still get most of the track here including Jimi’s destructive ending.
The aptly titles The Magician With The Guitar is another important Hendrix title documenting another piece of Jimi’s history. The sound quality may not be perfect but is certainly good enough to get a good picture of what the concert had to offer with Jimi’s guitar high in the mix. With such a superb performance this is definitely another recommended Rattlesnake title for the Hendrix collector.