Jimi Hendrix's Fire Burns Bright On New Legacy Releases

For a guy who died at 27, Jimi Hendrix left behind a massive body of work, from finished studio efforts and live recordings to experimental noodlings and jams.

Since taking over the estate's affairs, Janie Hendrix has overseen a number of projects to preserve and promote the music and legacy of her half-brother under the banner of "Experience Hendrix." This includes a massive campaign of reissues and new releases with Legacy Records.

The latest goodies to leap from the vault include several CDs and DVDs. Back in print after a long absence - and remastered by original produce Eddie Kramer, with five bonus tracks - Hendrix In the West cherry-picks selections from shows at various California locations and the England's Isle of Wight Festival from 1968-70. Backing Jimi are Mitch Mitchell on drums and either Noel Redding or Billy Cox on bass.

It includes exciting, offbeat covers of "Johnny B. Goode" and "Blue Suede Shoes" (hardly recognizable from the originals), a more melancholy version of "Little Wing" than fans would be used to, and a heavier, hard jamming take on "I Don't Live Today."

The disc also includes some of Jimi's often-famously unintelligible stage banter. "When I say, toilet paper," he tells one fan who has produced (What? A joint? A Banner?), "then you can roll it out."

"Fire" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" offer variations appealing only to the diehard fan, and while the liner notes say that this version of "Red House" is "arguably the finest ever version" by Hendrix, to Rocks Off it unfurls like a slow, meandering, slightly yawn-inducing exercise in the blues.

Also out is the four-CD box set Winterland. With material drawn from six shows the original Jimi Hendrix Experience (Hendrix, Mitchell, Redding) performed from Oct. 10-12, 1968, it boasts 35 tracks and a bonus interview. Winterland is also remastered and greatly expanded from a single-CD that was issued briefly in the late '80s.

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However, as many of the songs repeat and the set lists are similar, the box set is really geared toward the hardcore fan. More accessible is a single-disc compilation, though it would have been nice to include "Tax Free" from the box set. And while from a 2011 perspective, it has an overabundance of familiar early-Experience numbers, standouts include heavier-than-the-record versions of "Foxey Lady" and "Are You Experienced."

Also of note are a couple of epic covers - an 11-minute take on Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and a heavy instrumental version of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love."

Two DVDs are also part of this latest Hendrix vault-spewing, Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight and Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show.

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