This is the fifty first of the “50 Albums to Christmas 2019” series.
What does everyone think about “double dipping”? You know, when you find a new version of the same product in slightly different packaging or with a smidgeon of something new that frustratingly might just be really interesting? Movie companies are really good at this thanks to DVD, then Blu-ray, then Steelbooks, then 4K, then digital then box sets and so on. Personally I’m on the fence about it but will happily agree to re-buy something I love. I’m still waiting for the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions 4k Boxset for instance or frankly any non-DVD copy of The Gumball Rally before mine wears out.
Songs for Groovy Children is a musical double dip. Well, triple. Before he died in 1970, Jimi Hendrix released one last album. Called Band of Gypsys, it contains live highlights of his residency at the Fillmore East theatre in San Francisco at New Year’s celebrations in 1969/70. He’d disbanded the Experience and replaced Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums and had written a number of new songs with the trio. Of the forty three tracks over four shows, there were numerous “issues” with a lot of the recordings and only six songs were released. At the time, it was a contract filler - something for Hendrix to keep his record label happy - and mostly ignored. Of course, this being Hendrix, Band of Gypsys became one of the most influential live recordings ever made with highlight Machine Gun providing a masterclass in what is possible with a single electric guitar that is still held aloft today. Live at the Fillmore East appeared thirty years later with another 16 tracks restored from the original tapes but still edited out of order and now finally for the fiftieth anniversary of the original concerts, Songs for Groovy Children completes the release, a 5-CD box set of all four concerts in their entirety.
I wasn’t intending to review new releases. I wasn’t even aware that this was being released until Spotify threw it into view. But now I am, all I’m going to do for at least a week is have this on constant rotation. Hendrix is always a pleasure to listen to but listening to him play live, improvising, extending and just having fun with musicians who can keep up with him is so satisfying. The question becomes why wouldn’t you buy this?