Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Jimi Hendrix waves to a new decade with the release of the full-length album, “Live in Maui.”
Compiled from two live sets originally to be included in the film, “Rainbow Bridge” (1970), the latest of posthumous releases from his estate finds him performing in a field with the East Maui Volcano Haleakalā looming in the background. While still billed as “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” Hendrix’s typical three-man set-up in the form of “EXP” drummer Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, having replaced Noel Redding (bass), play cohesively.
Following a spoken introduction, The trio start the 11-track set with a funky version of “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) Live in Maui, 1970. Known for his innovative, blistering guitar work and creative lyrics, the rocker’s vocals, especially during live shows, were hit or miss. One of the cleaner vocal takes on this album, this track is a good snapshot of the group at the time.
Hendrix’s soaring guitar melodies maintain a tight groove as he and Mitchell lock in with each other. Cox’s bass flourishes throughout, adding to an expansive-sounding jam. Live staples like “Foxey Lady,” “Fire” and “Purple Haze” for even the most dedicated fans, eventually become a chore to sit through given how many versions are constantly repackaged. “Maui’s” iterations, though, beg for one more trial. Even when his voice isn’t the clearest, its sound on this mix is often unique enough. When Hendrix was “on” as he was during the first set, even the most familiar jams become worthy of reliving.
Released Nov. 20, along with a video documentary titled, “Music, Money, Madness ... Jimi Hendrix in Maui,” his otherworldly stage magnetism is on full display, whether dedicating “Foxey Lady” to a girl in the audience or coaxing Sci-Fi sounds out of his instrument on “Voodoo Child (Slight Return) Live in Maui, 1970.”
As a 1960s psychedelic Blues artist, his belief in the power of music raising people’s emotions to enact positive change remains pure 50+ years after his untimely death at age 27. Deep cuts like the side one closing, “Message to Love (Live in Maui, 1970)” is prefaced with a nugget of interactive crowd banter that unintentionally explains the iconic artist’s view on the power of music.
“I’d like to do this tune to everybody that knows about it,” he said on the track. “It’s a thing called ‘Message to Love.’ Everybody knows about that, we’d like to just bathe in it for a second. Well for always, actually.”
Alternate takes of the instrumentals “Villanova Junction,” (Live in Maui, 1970) and “Jam Back at the House” (Live in Maui, 1970), thunder along on the weaker second side, thanks to Mitchell re-recording his parts for the notoriously rough mix after the show.
For such a well-documented musician, “Live in Maui” showcases Hendrix performing his first set with all of the motivation that made him an international star. Even in the colder moments, the new live album has offerings for avid collectors and less experienced fans.