Five months after Hendrix offered Experience for all, the alien who might as well have wielded a raygun instead of a guitar, set fire to Paris’ Olympia Theatre on 9 October 1967. Not literally, of course, but, with broken Strat and all, The Jimi Hendrix Experience left les garçons et les filles with third-degree audio burns following a 40- minute set of Experience-era material that, if you’ve heard any live Hendrix from this period, lives up to all high-octance expectations, even with the over-familiarity.
Three-and-a-bit months later, the Experience invaded again. Despite Axis: Bold As Love’s release the same month, Hendrix’s January ’68 gig offers a bit of the-same-but-different. He may have mastered studio trickery for his second LP but, live, Hendrix hadn’t forgotten how to pull out the old magic with just his power trio. Phatter-sounding overall, Catfish Blues in particular comes with added swampy bass grooves threatening to GBH L’Olympia, until Hendrix’s fingers make it sing and Mitch Mitchell’s drum solo brings his unexpectant sidemen into a vortex largely unheard since The Big Bang. By the time Hendrix hit Ottawa in March, however, the cold must have been getting to him. Three cuts here from the first show aren’t uninspired as such, but flawed, with little in the way of out-and-out alchemy.
With the earlier Parisian gig coming on sexy splatter vinyl, it’s a mild psychedelic feast for the aged eyes and ears of anyone who was there (and can or can’t remember it). Padding the set out, though, is a Woodstock T-shirt, badges, poster and postcards, iPod cover and fake backstage pass that gives you access to online booty. It’s kinda cool – if you’re that way inclined; but if you’re shallower of pocket, the £60 price tag does nothing to help fans on the hunt for “official bootlegs”. And – caveat emptor – doesn’t “Fanpack” sound like something you’d find geared towards an Avon catalogue reader? We hope, for the love of god, that this doesn’t herald a return to the marketing ploys behind the over-priced, trinket-packed VHS box sets of the mid-90s… Trainspotting with lighter, Rizla holder and orange-tinted “granny glasses”, anyone?