(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
Band Of Gypsys is a collection of highlights from Jimi Hendrix's December 31st/January 1st dates which he performed with friend bassist Billy Cox and great R&B drummer/vocalist Buddy Miles in the eve of 1969/70.
To many Hendrix fans, most were shock if not appalled by the fact that he had a new rythtym section and that he also was playing a more looser, funky jazz oriented style of music which most loyal fans found hard to listen to. Gone was the tight vituoso drumming of Mitch Mitchell and the loose, but effective bass playing of Noel Redding which provided the rythym section for one of the electric guitar' s greatest innovators. This line-up would produce three timeless classics such as the seminal debut Are You Experienced, psychedelic gem Axis: Bold As Love and opus, Electric Ladyland.
With such a pedigree, it is a wonder why most did feel slighted by this line-up or the Band Of Gypsys, both Cox and Miles settled more on infectous grooves instead the experimental improvisations of Hendrix's prior rythym section, but on these tracks and later revealed on a more a more thorough Live At The Fillmore East, Hendrix would work perfectly with Miles and Cox as flawlessly as he did with Redding and Mitchell.
Of all the songs performed during this four set concert, only six were selected for this album, and the song selected were thrusted into legendary status over time influencing many bands like Living Colour, Material, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Butthole Surfers, Fishbone etc. but of all the songs on the album, the album's second track, "Machine Gun" set the barameter for not only guitar virtuosity, but the guitar excess that many of the later Heavy Metal speed demons would later be villified for. "Machine Gun" is a 12 minute plus tour-de-force, that some have called the pinnacle guitar rock, if some do not agree with that, It can definitely be called his "magnum opus". Never has Jimi played with more emotion, a song eliciting such fury, by the three musicians, one can wonder what the audience was thinking about while this song was being performed.
The other songs are great, but not as phenomenal as "Machine Gun" which transends time. "Changes" a Miles song, on which he also sings on, is a funky tidbit remniscent of Sly And The Family Stone. "Who Knows", the album's opener, set the mood for everything else that follows. The piledriving "Power To Love" with some great soloing by Jimi , and the last two songs, "Message To Love" and "We Got To Live Together" are also wonderful, but can get a bit annoying with the over-singing of drummer Buddy Miles.
Jimi Hendrix would later embark on a disatrous date at New York's "Madison Square Garden", which would destroy the band, and later in the year with Jimi set to involve himself in many projects, would leave many unfinished, as for on a fateful day in September of 1970, Jimi Hendrix would die of an overdose, leaving Band Of Gypsys the only live album that he would actually be alive for when it was released.