Wednesday 29 January 2020

#136 JIMI HENDRIX - The LA Forum 1970 (Flac)

The article below is from a magazine feature about Jimi Hendrix, it has great relevance to the blog and reviews in depth one of Jimi’s greatest live performances. I have edited certain aspects from the article that are no longer relevant.

The sound quality of this post is a lot rougher than what you may be used to, but Hendrix’s guitar playing is so incendiary that it is a must hear.

HENDRIX '70: Clearing the Haze
by Michael Fairchild

In the summer of  1970 "Bootlegs" - unauthorized vinyl albums - were the new thing. The first one I recall seeing is of Bob Dylan's outtake recordings, called The Great White Wonder. In September 1969 Rolling Stone published interviews with the people who produced that album.

In the summer of 1970 there were two record shops in my hometown that sold bootleg albums. I recall seeing a bootleg of The Beatles at Shea Stadium, and a Jethro Tull bootleg.
I still remember the day in August 1970 when I walked into one of the record shops and saw two new bootlegs: Led Zeppelin at Blueberry Hill, and Jimi Hendrix - Live at the Forum 1970. I had enough money for just one of them, and I stood there with a friend for several minutes trying to decide which one to get. We finally decided on the Hendrix bootleg. This was the album I was listening to all through September 1970, then on the 18th we heard Jimi had died.

The bootlegs of Jimi that I saw after I got the L.A. Forum album were from Maui, and then the BBC radio sessions came out on a bootleg titled Live Experience (I saw a version of this same album with the title Goodbye Jimi) - these were out in 1971. I was actively looking for any bootleg album from 1970 on, especially after Jimi died, and I know for sure these were the first three Hendrix bootlegs widely circulating in northeast USA: LA Forum 1970, Maui, and BBC Sessions - I still have these three vinyl albums from four decades ago.

The Lifelines CD box set contains an April 1969 Los Angeles Forum concert with bassist Noel Redding and the original Experience. One year later, Jimi returned to L.A. for the first date of his Cry of Love tour. Bassist Billy Cox replaced Redding, but Mitch stayed on drums. It is this later "unknown" L.A. gig, on the heels of the first Earth Day bash, that warrants scrutiny by serious Hendrix listeners. In an interview prior to the gig, Jimi spoke of intentions to record the early shows of this first tour with the Mitchell/Cox rhythm section. But excellent quality multi-track tapes of the L.A. 70 concert have yet to be found.

A good quality copy of the L.A. 70 bootleg album sounds like the tape deck was sitting directly in front of Jimi's amps. Guitarwise, this specific L.A. '70 recording features the most crisp and dense Strat-blast ever to thunder from an audience-made tape. Cox's bass is heard, but like many Hendrix bootlegs, Mitchell's drums are audible as if from a distance, like blasting caps in an avalanche.

Two decades and 130 Hendrix bootlegs later, I'm convinced that the 1970 L.A. Forum concert is the single greatest Hendrix performance I've ever heard. Only the Berkeley sets rival its importance. The Forum was Jimi's first gig with Mitchell in seven months, and his first concert following the January 1970 disbanding of A Band of Gypsys. After a three-month hiatus, Jimi was ripe for the stage. At the L.A. debut of his new Cry Of Love band, he reached a peak of electrically-charged concentration. Not the slightest trace of fatigue or hesitation is present. The amps sound like they were just overhauled fresh off the assembly line, and the guitar tone is immaculately crisp, full and taut. Not yet strained from weeks on the road, Jimi's singing is powerful and expressive, delivered with sage-like authority. By the middle of the first solo this gig attains mythic proportions. Jimi burns with solar brilliance. Sparklers light up every synapse in his brain. Strings snap off the maple neck Strat like tree trunks cracking in thunderclaps. L.A. '70 captures Jimi's miraculous attack at the max.

The 1970 Forum version of Foxy Lady is in a class by itself. Jimi carves out hollow clusters with lyrically sweet Django Reinhardt delicacy. And if you want to hear what Lover Man is supposed to sound like in concert, L.A. '70 contains the masterpiece of more than two-dozen versions. Jimi whips up layers of ultra-quick rock 'n' roll rhythms. Hear My Train a-Comin' is as dense as it gets. Jimi plays billiards with a series of black holes.

Only the Berkeley version (on the 1971 Rainbow Bridge studio LP) compares with the sustained perfection of this April '70 blues. And of 16 live Ezy Ryder recordings, this L.A. cut tops the heap. Chugging along in locomotive bursts, its massive blocks feel like granite slabs slapping the earth. A sci-fi horror-blues, Machine Gun, staggers from mortal wounds and erupts. We hear the most extreme screech in the catalogue of western music. Jimi's hambone back-beats next hurl Room Full of Mirrors through tangible soundwaves. It could be the best take of an inspired studio session. No other concert version matches it. Complicated grace notes glisten with computer precision. A final chord is mounted with the ceremony of a matador positioning for the kill. Jimi lets the open A-string reverberate and pulls-off a top-string trill. Unaccompanied Baroque scales unravel and dissolve into the very first and most serene performance of Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun). Every ornamental tone is placed with ultra finesse. A theater-of-the-absurd Star Spangled Banner doubles as the soundtrack for Frankenstein Runs Amok. Then Jimi lets it all hang out with the shining white knight of all live Voodoo Child versions. Slippery-slick guitar growls anticipate fluid synthesizer effects heard years later.

Jimi Hendrix showed a near capacity audience Saturday night at the Forum that he has lost none of his box office appeal and raw excitement. Hendrix drew an enormous opening response from the audience as he went through such early hits as Foxy Lady...he generates a charge of electricity that virtually ignites the huge arena. Hendrix is a powerhouse of sex and sound...reaching new levels of communication and emotion, levels far beyond that which most guitarists and vocalists once felt were possible. On Saturday, he seemed freer of gimmicks, more serious of purpose...his bombing raid version of the Star Spangled Banner and Purple Haze brought the audience to its feet for an ovation that lasted several minutes. 
Robert Hilburn - Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1970

At the huge Forum last Saturday, about 20,000 people crammed in to see Jimi Hendrix in his first appearance here in almost a year...He was relaxed, cool as ever, and did an almost casual set. He teased us with a few erotic movements during Foxy Lady, but after that he just stood there and played that guitar...I was in the second row, directly in front of him...Jimi went right into Purple Haze and all hell broke lose. It was as if the song were the pre-arrangeed signal. The aisles spilled forward, and in less than one minute the entire area was solid humanity - waving, shouting people, some sitting on their friend's necks, some perched precariously on the backs of seats...As Purple Haze ended and the closiing number, Voodoo Child, began, there was an incomprehensible (and terrifying) backward thrust. Everyone up front was somehow invisibly thrown back with sledge-hammer force. Chairs went over, people went down. Like a fool, I'd been standing on my chair trying to see Jimi through the crowd, so I went over the back of the chair and stayed there, suspended like a trapeze artist. I like Jimi Hendrix; I think he's one of the very few real innovators and a most incredible performer. But it'll be an icy day in hell before I'll see him at the Forum again. I'm afraid of his audience.
Judy Sims - Disc, May 5, 1970

These insights and research by Hendrix scholar Michael Fairchild

Hendrix '70: Clearing The Haze was originally published in GUITAR Magazine in March 1992.

The May 1992 issue of GUITAR ran two letters from readers who added more insight:

Thanks for the article on Hendrix 1970 (March, 1992). I was at the Forum concert in April of '70. It was a different atmosphere from previous rock concerts, very spiritual. Jimi played a few favorites, but mainly jammed. He also made the audience "Stand up for once in your life," before The Star Spangled Banner. Lastly, in reference to whether there was a videotape of the concert, there was a large-screen projection of Hendrix throughout. The camera remained mainly on Jimi. This was delightful to those of us far away. This was the first time I had ever seen this used at a concert. Dennis Watts,  Tehachapi, CA

Special thanks to Michael Fairchild's article about Jimi Hendrix (Clearing the Haze). I hope it sets a few records straight about this amazing artist. I was fortunate to attend the L.A. Forum 1970 concert. I also possess a copy of the live bootleg. Inferior recording aside, there is no live album that captures the unbelievable guitar sound of Jimi Hendrix than the one that is etched in that vinyl. Drugs plagued his later years, but his playing was always over-the-top, inspired, and way ahead of most guitar sounds, even today. Peter McKibben, Los Angeles, CA

Jimi Hendrix
April 25, 1970
The L.A. Forum, Inglewood, California, USA

This is an upgrade over the shorter, lower quality monophonic-only source

This show has been seeded before but not this length and quality as a combination of two really nice sounding masters (one monophonic and the other a more edited stereo recording). The previous share of this was monophonic and also much more edited and lower quality. The splices between these master sources are almost entirely during the tuning and talk between songs, with the exception of a little more than a minute during Ezy Rider. I received this version in a CD trade complete with the splices but cleaned it all up a lot by doing level adjustments and gradual pans between the segments to make the transitions much less obvious. I've listened to it all very closely and am very happy with how it turned out.

CD1 - 46:00
01. applause, talk and tune ups [2:04]
02. Spanish Castle Magic [4:18]
03. Foxy Lady [4:23]
04. Lover Man [3:01]
05. tune ups and talk [2:22]
06. Hear My Train a Comin' [9:36]
07. talk [0:35]
08. Message to Love [4:21]
09. talk [0:47]
10. Ezy Rider [4:10]
11. Machine Gun [10:23]


CD2 - 39:53
01 talk [0:29]
02. Room Full of Mirrors > [4:01]
03. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) > [4:16]
04. Villanova Junction > drum solo > [6:42]
05. Freedom > [5:22]
06. talk [0:23]
07. The Star-Spangled Banner > [3:00]
08. Purple Haze [3:50]
09. talk [2:42]
10. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) [8:29]
11. final thanks and applause [0:39]


The Band:
Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell

Lineage - stereo and monophonic sources combined on CD's received in trade (via Dave White) > Pro Tools (minor "nip and tuck" edits, added gradual pans between stereo and mono sources, normalized and re-tracked - no equalization or noise reduction) > AIFF > xACT (Flac level 8 files with sector boundaries verified).

Note: This show has been tracked to fit on two audio CD's but will play seamlessly through the disc change. 


There are some superb photos of Jimi in great quality from this show, that can be found on the excellent French Jimi Hendrix forum:


Use Google Translate to understand the posts in French.



Sunday 5 January 2020

#135 PINK FLOYD - Too Late For Mind Expanding 1970 (Flac)

The Montreux 40th Anniversary Series
Too Late For Mind Expanding (HRV CDR 036)
Montreux Casino, 21 November 1970


Mastertape by Victor
Remastering by MOB
Quality Control by EdP
Artwork by RonToon
Produced by Harvested Records

Disc One
01. Astronomy Domine (11:45)
02. Fat Old Sun (13:20)
03. Cymbaline (12:37)
04. Atom Heart Mother (17:35)
05. Embryo (12:36)

Disc Two
01. Green Is The Colour (4:14)
02. Careful With That Axe, Eugene (12:04)
03. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (14:02)
04. A Saucerful Of Secrets (20:29)
05. Just Another Twelve Bar (6:00)
06. More Blues (9:06)

*Original Notes*

This is a rare case where all the stars were aligned: we have the best audience recording from that era, and at the same time the Floyd performance was really magic that night. All five songs of CD1 were delivered with fire and passion (including the most powerful rendition of Funky Dung ever recorded). And on CD2, the first part of A Saucerful Of Secrets (Something Else) shows the Floyd sounding like King Crimson would sound three years later. Another highlight of CD2 is Just Another Twelve Bar: even if not too interesting from a musical point of view, this song is a true rarity in Pink Floyd live repertoire (even if it's mainly based on the bass riff from Biding My Time).

This new Harvested release provides the first of the two Montreux 1970 concerts in the most complete form and with the best possible quality. The main source was Victor's raw master transfer already shared last year. The ending part of Green Is The Colour and the following track Careful With That Axe, Eugene, not present on Victor's master, were taken from "The Good" recorder that surfaced some years ago on "The Good ... The Bad" RoIO ref. FA033.

Victor's raw transfer shared in November 2009 was first thought to be from the second concert, mainly because it matched "The Good ... The Bad" RoIO that was labelled from 22 November 1970. However, based on Victor's recollections of the two shows and some pictures from his reels, it now appears that the present show with the two "blues" encores is actually from 21 November 1970 (this show ended late, forcing the band to finish with a quiet blues). The second concert was added at the last minute for the next afternoon at 2.30pm (Roger sarcastically said "good morning" to the audience) and at this second show the encore was Interstellar Overdrive.

Victor's master is a superb audience recording and a compilation cassette he did in the past from both concerts was copied by someone and ended up on the 1995 "Smoking Blues" bootleg ("Smoking Blues" is therefore at least 1st or 2nd gen, and even with that lineage some people thought it was from soundboard or from some EMI acetates that are most probably pure legend). Embryo, Just Another Twelve Bar and More Blues from "Smoking Blues" are from 21Nov70, but the versions presented here are upgrades, coming directly from the master and with an uncut More Blues (fading out on Smoking Blues).

Despite its fantastic quality, Victor's master had some flaws that needed to be corrected. The speed was not consistent throughout the show: for some tracks, speed was absolutely perfect, while for others speed gradually slowed down (probably an "end of reel" effect during the play-back). Fat Old Sun, Atom Heart Mother and A Saucerful Of Secrets suffered from that slowing-down phenomenon and speed was corrected for these three songs. There were some channel loss and level fluctuations, the most obvious being during the first verse of Fat Old Sun. These were repaired. There were also drop-outs here and there, especially during the first 2 minutes of Cymbaline (one drop-out every 862ms, thus 140 drop-outs were manually corrected one by one in order to fully restore these first minutes of Cymbaline). The right channel became slightly weaker during Set The Controls and A Saucerful Of Secrets, where more drop-outs were present on that channel. These flaws were attenuated as much as possible. Last but not least, there were several cuts on the master: the very first chord of Fat Old Sun was missing and has been restored, a short cut during Mother Fore (AHM) was carefully patched, and the central part of Celestial Voices (ASOS) that was missing due to a tape flip, was restored from another show in order to save the continuity and progression to the climax of the song.

The end of Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe, Eugene and the first 30 seconds of Set The Controls were taken from "The Good" source. A lot of work was needed in order to restore that part, because of abrupt speed fluctuations during Careful, and also because "The Good ... The Bad" RoIO comes from a "tweaked" tape: the original audio capture is pure mono (there is absolutely no stereo separation between the instruments), but someone found funny to play with the faders during the analogue transfer, introducing artificial panning in order to fake stereo effects (these tricks were clearly done during an analogue mixing of the recording, not in the digital world). Speed was corrected segment by segment, and levels were carefully adjusted in order to restore the original music as it was on the master, i.e. in the centre of the stereo image, before the artificial panning ruining most parts of "The Good ... The Bad".

So there you are. The 21 November 1970 Montreux concert in all its glory!

MOB (November 21, 2010)
Harvested Records


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