By the end of 1969, Jimi Hendrix had disbanded the Jimi Hendrix Experience, performed at Woodstock and assembled a new group, the short-lived Band of Gypsys, which debuted at New York City’s Fillmore East on New Year’s Eve. They played two sets that night and two the next, with the January 1st sets serving as the basis for 1970’s famed Band of Gypsys LP. But now the first night’s first concert, which showcased the guitarist playing with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles together on a big stage for the first time, will be getting a proper release as Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 on September 30th.
A recording of the first song they played that night, “Power of Soul,” premieres here. It opens with some crisp blues playing by Hendrix before locking into a fluid groove with the rhythm section. Hendrix gets a handle on the song’s unwieldy guitar lines, breaking into expressive solos and some speak-singy verses before hitting on the song’s message – “With the power of soul anything’s possible” – which his bandmates join him in singing. It’s a fiery performance that shows the potential the group had before it broke apart within a month.
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“We decided that we couldn’t do any songs that had already been released,” Cox said in a statement about the concert. “We wanted to give them something different. So we went at the project in a joyous, creative posture and ultimately developed the repertoire of the Band of Gypsys.”
Engineer and producer Eddie Kramer, who worked on all the major Hendrix recordings during the singer’s lifetime, mixed Machine Gun from its original 8-track master tapes for release on CD, double-vinyl and SACD as well as a digital edition.
Jeff Beck recalls what it was like to see Jimi Hendrix live and his new LP. Watch here.