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    Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsies

    This is one of those that rises above what a live album is supposed to be. It’s Jimi Hendrix’s first live album, the only one released while he was alive and actually the last thing he released while alive. And it has no previously released material on it.

    In 1969, having broken up the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix formed an all-black power trio with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles; the former an old Army buddy and the latter a ringer with prior experience with bands like the Electric Flag (he’d later serve as lead singer of the California Raisins). Owing one record to a former manager as the resolution of a legal dispute, Hendrix decided to record this Band of Gypsies live.

    The resulting album, recorded on New Year’s Eve 1969, debuted six songs that displayed a new, more socially conscious, funk-and-soul-influenced direction from Hendrix. Miles wrote and sang two songs, a privilege Hendrix rarely offered his former Experience bandmates. The centerpiece here is “Machine Gun”; a guitar work-out by Hendrix that runs over 12 minutes and served as an influence on later black psychedelia of the ‘70s like Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain.” The album’s impact was still being felt two decades later, when Digital Underground sampled its opening song, “Who Knows,” on their 1990 debut Sex Packets. It’s a testament to Hendrix’s creative power that this casually-arrived-at final creative statement planted seeds for future development by other artists.