Reviews

That's All Right, I've Still Got My Guitar: 'Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight

The standouts of this set are the 15-minute rendition of "Machine Gun" and the ten-minute-plus "Red House", both of them swaggering, apocalyptic tunes that push the limits of what is expected in a guitar-based "pop" song.


Jimi Hendrix

Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight

Label: Sony Legacy
US Release Date: 2011-09-13
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

In 1970, Jimi Hendrix headlined the Isle of Wight festival in the UK. It was, by common consent, not his most outstanding performance, and was overshadowed by any number of earlier performances, including his Woodstock set three years earlier. Nonetheless, it was an interesting performance that featured older hits ("Purple Haze", "Foxy Lady") as well as newer tunes ("Machine Gun", "Dolly Dagger") and some out-of-left-field entries (the one-two opening salve of an instrumental "God Save the Queen" followed by a truncated "Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band".)

Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight presents this performance in its entirety, and there is plenty of note here, whether the viewer is a casual Jimi fan or a more rabid variety of follower. The song selection, as mentioned, is varied, and the band—Mitch Mitchell on drums, Billy Cox on bass—provide rock-solid backing. Sure, there are a couple of drum solos, but what the hell. Sign of the times and all that.

The performance footage is preceded by 20 minutes of scene-setting, featuring footage of concert organizers growing increasingly panicked at this festival that almost never happed—it ended up having twice the attandence of Woodstock, with a list of performers as long as your arm—interspersed with talking-head snippets of people waxing verbose about Jimi's greatness and the historic nature of the event. Get through this and then you can settle in for an hour and 40 minutes of glorious noise.

Jimi himself appears in a less-than-joyous mood at times; he grows visibly impatient with the audience's dull reaction to some tunes, and appears reluctant at times to trot out the old hits. But he's nothing if not game, and the guitar wizardry is very much in evidence, so there's little reason to complain.

Without a doubt the twin standouts of the set are the 15-minute rendition of "Machine Gun" and the ten-minute-plus "Red House", both of them swaggering, apocalyptic tunes that push the limits of what is expected in a guitar-based "pop" song. Given their greatness, the audience's apathetic response is all the more bewildering. Yes, the set started at one in the morning, but wake up, people! Or maybe the crowd noise just doesn't come through on the soundtrack?

"All Along the Watchtower" is an early highlight, and a well-received one, while "Dolly Dagger" and "Message to Love" provide plenty of uptempo kick. The set ends with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "In From the Storm", marred only by one of those drum solos—the shorter of the two, as it turns out. Jimi thanks the crowd quickly and leaves in a rush.

The sound on the DVD is excellent; played through an ordinary TV, there was a thinness to the bass which isn't unexpected, but when higher-quality headphones are used, the sound is CD quality, mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound. The source film is crisp, with bright colors, but also occasional lines on the film stock. Given that the event occurred over 40 years ago, it's difficult to get too upset about this.

The DVD contains a number of extras, some of which are less than compelling—a ten-minute talking-head interview with director Murray Lerner, and some snapshots of related memorabilia. These are faintly interesting but hardly crucial. By far the most valuable extra feature is something that hardcore Jimi fans will love. Seven of the songs in the set are presented using alternative footage from that used in the main film, ammounting to what is essentially a bonus performance of such masterpieces as "Red House", "Foxy Lady", and many others. Much of the bonus footage focuses on Jimi's fretwork, an element that was unaccountably minimized in the main film in favor of facial expressions and widecreen stage shots.

The big standout here is "Hey Joe", which isn't included in the original film, perhaps because there is only one camera angle for the duration of the song. Has the rest of the footage been lost? If so, that's a shame, as the performance is a scorcher. This is the first time it has been made available.

Blue Wild Angel was last released on DVD in 2002, and fans who have that disc will have to decide whether the new features make it crucial to invest in the new release. Guitar lovers -- or classic rock lovers, or Jimi fans of any stripe—who don't already own the concert would be well advised to pick it up. The combination of a strong performance coupled with innovative use of DVD technilogy (in the form of the bonus performance angles) make this a concert well worth having on hand.

9

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image