(All Album Reviews by AdmKirk)
It's amazing how much Jimi Hendrix material is available for a man whose recording career lasted from 1967-1970. Live in Berkeley is the latest in what arguably could be the greatest posthumous rock recording artist ever. Since shortly after his death in 1970, Reprise, Capitol, Rykodisc, MCA and Experience Hendrix have kept up a regular slate of live and studio Hendrix recordings. Some were of questionable quality, while some where quite revealing. All had their moments. Since Janie Hendrix (his sister) and the late Al Hendrix (his father) took control, painstaking effort has been put into making the Hendrix catalogue what it should be as well as issuing unreleased live and studio material. While producer Jack Douglas did some things with Hendrix material during the 1970s that many fans didn't care for, Eddie Kramer, who worked with Hendrix extensively while he was alive, has done a great job with more recent projects like Live at Berkeley.
Whether on CD or LP (which I own) the sound is pristine. Kramer makes the show sound like it was recorded last week rather than 1970. By the way, the LP release is a limited run of 10,000 copies on heavy vinyl.
The album features a mix of the new material he was working on at the time ("Pass it On", "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)"), as well as inspired workouts from earlier in his career like "Hey Joe", & "I Don't Live Today". While the album has its rough spots, like when RF interference causes a police radio to be picked up during "Hey Joe", this just adds to the performance. It's a killer show from beginning to end. Hendrix's "aw shucks" personality shines through on between song banter.
Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell and Hendrix all play with the confidence of a band who know exactly what they are doing.
Live at Berkeley was recorded and filmed on Saturday, May 5, 1970 at the Berkeley Community Theatre. Two shows were held that night and this recording is of the 2nd show.
Some of the Berkeley material has slipped out over the years on various albums, but this is the first time an entire show has been released and as long as Janie Hendrix and Eddie Kramer continue to find things like this to release then Jimi Hendrix's enormous legend will only continue to grow.