West Coast Seattle Boy [CD+DVD]
The single-disc version of West Coast Seattle Boy is a career-spanning collection of Hendrix material, but it's far from a greatest hits or career overview, and is probably not intended for the casual Hendrix fan. It's an interesting collection of (mostly) officially unreleased but high-quality material ranging from studio outtakes and alternates to home-recorded demos.
There are some fascinating alternate mixes or takes of several tunes from Are You Experienced? in perfect sound. But these aren't actually "lost mixes" that Chas Chandler had stashed away all these years, they're recent remixes by Eddie Kramer (the original engineer for most Hendrix recordings) using the original multi-track recordings for the first time. Remember, Are You Experienced? was recorded on a four-track and there were multiple bounces down to two tracks to make room for overdubs. Using the original multi-tracks results in a clarity to the instruments we've never heard before. This is particularly evident on "Fire" and "Love or Confusion," where no elements have been added or taken away, just the original multi-tracks remixed without the bounce down. The take of "Are You Experienced" is just the original instrumental basic track (and structure for the song), but we get to hear the backwards guitar solo from the LP version played as it was originally before being flipped around on the tape. "May This Be Love" has a double-tracked lead vocal on this version, and the guitars are mixed differently. "Room Full of Mirrors" and "Shame Shame Shame" are performed as a medley with additional percussion from Rocky Dzidzornu, who recorded with the Rolling Stones and Nick Drake. "Mr. Bad Luck" is a fine studio outtake while the cover of the Band's "Tears of Rage" is something Jimi recorded himself in a hotel room with old friend Paul Caruso contributing harmonica and vocals. "Hear My Freedom" probably isn't much more than a studio jam with Buddy Miles and (probably) Lee Michaels on organ joining the Experience, but it's a hot one. Traffic's Chris Wood plays sax on their take of "Hound Dog" ("Hound Dog Blues"). "Lonely Avenue" is an unfinished studio jam with Buddy Miles and an unknown percussionist, and "Burning Desire" was originally part of the Loose Ends compilation. This version of "In from the Storm" is actually a mix that Jimi prepared with Eddie Kramer prior to his death, has more prominent backing vocals than the version released on The Cry of Love and First Rays of the New Rising Sun. "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" was a live-in-the-studio track that was included on both Rainbow Bridge and First Rays, but that tune actually flowed right out of an unreleased instrumental called "Bolero" in the original studio take. This is a restoration of that original medley.
The DVD is excellent. It's 90 minutes of Jimi in Jimi's own words, along with some great performance footage. What isn't Jimi's voice on tape is from his own words via letters and journals, voiced by Bootsy Collins. Actually, William Collins is probably more appropriate, since there isn't a trace of Bootsy's persona present. In fact, Collins did an excellent job of getting inside Jimi's words and his speaking voice even has a similar, soft-spoken quality. In addition to footage of Jimi, there are lots of photos, letters, and handwritten lyrics on display. The packaging also has dozens of great photographs.