Experience (1968)

DVD Cover (MCA Home Video)
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Overall Rating 77%
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Peter Neal's documentary short looks at the career of The Jimi Hendrix Experience up to late 1967. Featuring live concert footage (at the Blackpool Opera House in November 1967), promotional videos, exclusive interviews with Hendrix and an in studio solo acoustic performance. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: January 25, 2006
This DVD reissue of the 1968 Experience documentary on Jimi Hendrix features the thirty-minute documentary itself, of course, as well as a slew of never-before-released live performances and other assorted videos.

Starting the disc is the feature presentation - the documentary. Now, this isn't so much a documentary (as it claims to be) as it is more of a mish-mash of various interviews, comments, and performances. There's not a whole lot of insight into his life to be gained here, there's no biography of him, and there's actually not a whole lot in the way of interviews. Therefore, if you're looking for something along those lines, this would not be the disc to pick up. What this feature does present, however, is a number of performances (both live and studio) with some home-video footage of Hendrix. We get to watch Hendrix and some band-mates go skydiving, there's a silly question-and-answer session - featuring such gems as "Do you smoke?", to which Hendrix replies "No" as he blows smoke into the camera - and there's also a small bit about his Indian heritage set to a backdrop of a cowboys-and-Indians movie of some sort.

The main draw to this feature is the music, of course, and a number of items are included dealing with that. There's live versions of "Purple Haze" and "Wild Thing" which were filmed in Blackpool, England, as well as a twelve-string acoustic rendition of "Hear My Train A-Comin'" and a video for "Foxy Lady." The two song performances from England were my personal favorites here, although the acoustic performance was very nice and was one of the better examples of how talented this man was with a guitar in his hands. The audio and video quality on these performances doesn't make for a top-of-the-line home theater experience as some have bitched about, but one has to remember that this footage was filmed back in the late sixties. In my eyes, things were cleaned up nicely and looked about as good as it's going to get. The only complaint that I had about this feature was the video for "Foxy Lady" due to the fact that it seems as though the producers couldn't decide what to do with it. It wasn't an actual music video, as it only featured Hendrix playing the song live; however, we hear the studio version of the song instead of the live performance that we're watching. Had this been an actual music video or another live performance, I'd have been perfectly content... but you really can't mix the two things, in my opinion.

Once the feature presentation is over, the disc immediately moves into the bonus features; you don't even have to return to the menu to access them, although you can skip to them if you like. Included in this section is the following:

"The Wind Cries Mary" and "Purple Haze" - live and never-before-released, recorded on May 24, 1967 at Popside in Stockholm, Sweden for Swedish Television.

"Red House" and an instrumental cover of Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" - live and never-before-released, recorded on January 9, 1969 at Number Nine in Stockholm, Sweden for Swedish Television.

"Wild Thing" - live, recorded on October 9, 1967 at The Olympia in Paris.

"Hey Joe" - original promotional film from 1967.

"Dolly Dagger" - 1997 music video.

The first four song performances are great, but my personal favorite of the bunch is their version of "Sunshine Of Your Love." Hendrix and crew nailed that song to perfection, and even though they didn't sing the lyrics to the song, it was an excellent performance and (for me, at least) was the highlight of the disc. The live performance of "Wild Thing" in Paris is great as well, up until it cuts off prematurely. From what I saw, it appeared that Hendrix started to do some obscene gestures involving his guitar between his legs. After he started doing this, the camera shifted away to the amps and such, and at that point, the video (not the song) ended. Moving onwards, we have the promotional film for "Hey Joe", which mainly consists of concert footage set to a studio recording of the song. I can't gripe about this one as I did for "Foxy Lady" up above, as this video features a decent amount of backstage footage and home-video recordings of Hendrix goofing off. It's enjoyable, but certainly not a selling point of the DVD. The final piece of the DVD is the 1997 music video for "Dolly Dagger", which drew a lot of undeserved heat in other reviews. While I can't say that it's groundbreaking or the best thing on the disc, it was a pretty good video and a nice little tribute to Hendrix, especially towards the end.

If you're looking for an actual documentary about Hendrix's life and death, or if you want an insightful look into his career, then you'd probably want to check out one of the many other discs dedicated to that subject. However, if you'd like a good amount of live performances and just want to see the man doing what he's best known for, then this would be a damned good disc to pick up. 8/10.
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