The show that makes up the new live set Live In Maui by The Jimi Hendrix Experience was recorded a mere two months before Jimi Hendrix’ death in September of 1970. On July 30th, 1970 Jimi and his second iteration of his Experience, which consisted of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox, flew to Maui, Hawaii and played two fiery sets. Despite extremely strong winds, the trio turned in two amazing performances, showing the true genius of Jimi Hendrix and his desire to push his music into a more soulful, funky direction. In 1971 Mitch Mitchell went back into the studio and re-recorded his drums due to the wind and technical issues that day, but only bits of this show were ever released on various posthumous Hendrix albums.
Now we have Live In Maui, a complete portrait of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at a time of great change and sonic exploration. It’s a raw set that shows Hendrix and the Experience in fine form. It’s also a sad reminder of what we lost in this incredible artist.
“Welcome, cosmic brothers and sisters of Maui to the Rainbow Bridge Laboratory Color Sound Experience” is the first thing you hear when you hit play. It’s the Experience’s introduction by music promoter Chuck Wein, and a far out introduction indeed. I feel that all the hippy dippy free love and psychedelics tend to take away from the real artistic heft that was behind Jimi Hendrix. Sure, he postured in paisley pants and groovy silk shirts, but I feel that was the gimmick that got him into the door(along with his guitar playing, of course.) But behind all of that was an amazing musician, songwriter, and soul. And the best way to see who Hendrix was becoming was to hear him live. Live at The Monterrey Pop Festival, Live at Woodstock, Band of Gypsies, and now Live In Maui are the gateways into Hendrix the artist. Live in Maui is a little rough due to the band playing in a windstorm, but that only adds a manic energy to the set.
There’s not a bad song on here, honestly. But some of the highlights are “Hey Baby(New Rising Sun)”, “In From The Storm”, “Hear My Train A-Comin'”, “Voodoo Chile(Slight Return)”, and that’s just within the first six songs. Hendrix, Cox, and Mitchell lay into both classic Experience tracks like “Foxey Lady”, “Fire”, and “Purple Haze”, while also giving a glimpse into what that fourth record could’ve been. Tracks like “Dolly Dagger”, “Villanova Junction”, and “Freedom” were a preview of the funky, soulful nature of the work Hendrix was digging into.
Hendrix really brought in the sound of 70s blues and funk, stuff that cats like Sly Stone, Herbie Hancock, and even Miles with Jack Johnson and On The Corner would help to define that decade.
I can only imagine what that collaboration between Hendrix and Miles Davis would have been like, and my imagination says it would’ve been mind-blowing. Or even the kind of albums we had to look forward to from Jimi Hendrix had he not crossed the Rainbow Bridge so soon. If you want a look into what could’ve been, put on some headphones and drop the needle on Live In Maui.
9.2 out of 10