Friday, March 19, 2021

1970 Album of the Week, March 19-25: Band of Gypsys, by Jimi Hendrix

If you've been reading my 1970 album reviews (or pretty much anything else I write about music), you know that guitar is my thing. That, in turn, means that I treat Jimi Hendrix as like unto a god. I'm not going to argue against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's characterization of him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music."

Band of Gypsies, released on March 25, 1970 was several things: Hendrix's first live album (and the only one released before his death); his first album without The Jimi Hendrix Experience backing him; his last non-posthumous full album (he appears as one act on the Woodstock "soundtrack" and as a sideman on Timothy Leary's You Can Be Anyone This Time Around, both released between Band of Gypsys and his death); and more the incidental product of a pressing need to give Capitol Records an album to settle a contract dispute than a project undertaken for its own sake.

Is it Hendrix's best album? I don't think so (I'm partial to Electric Ladyland). Roger Bannister's 3:59.4 mile on May 6, 1954 wasn't his best running time, either (he ran 3:58.8 that August),  but that doesn't mean it wasn't remarkable.

Another bit of conventional wisdom I'm not going to dissent from is that "Machine Gun" is the standout track:

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