Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin' - DVD

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin' - DVD
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        Let's see.... (sigh), Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin'. This is a mixed bag. Some interesting footage, from Miami Pop Festival '68 and Randall's Island '70, snippets of Hendrix jamming with Mick Taylor backstage at the Stones '69 Madison Square Garden concert, as well as joking and hanging out with the other Stones backstage. {For a wealth of related photographs Go to the Internet Archive  Type  into the Wayback Machine Click Browse History and choose 2005} The Miami Festival with The Experience, and Randalls Island with Billy and Mitch, are both performances where you catch Hendrix at his improvisatory best, interacting with both groups. That said, the time is pretty much wasted with David Fricke and Bob Santelli. Santelli repeating stuff you already know and have heard other people say before, and David Fricke, who needs a history lesson himself. (Y'know Mitch Mitchell mentioned in his book, 'Inside The Experience', that there was interest among the young Black Audience in New York in The Jimi Hendrix Experience when they first visited New York in 1967, that could have been cultivated back then. Mike Jeffrey's handiwork again?) What Dweezil Zappa is doing in this documentary is a mystery to me. Is there no archival footage available of Frank Zappa being interviewed about Hendrix?
        Unfortunately, as circumstances turned out the way they did, for different reasons, three very important people who could have illuminated and lit a fire under this thing, are missing. They are Caesar Glebbeek, Dan Foster, and David Henderson. Caesar Glebbeek was the brilliant brainchild behind the original Hendrix Information Centre in Amsterdam Holland, the model for which, just about all subsequent versions are copies. Glebbeek is someone who should have gotten his due back in the early 1970s. He was assisted at the Hendrix Centre back then, by a highly knowledgeable American named Dan Foster, who as fate would have it, in a well timed visit to America, shared the very informative original version of the Hendrix Information Centre Booklet with Guitar Player Magazine, before their very first Tribute Issue was published; which was the Jimi Hendrix Special Issue in Sept. of 1975. (Guitar Player had 'never' done anything like it before. - For some great photographs by Ron Raffaelli of The Jimi Hendrix Experience {e.g. from the book, ' Electric Church-A Visual Experience'} go to The Internet Archive:  Type in  Click Take Me Back/Browse History Then choose 2003)
        Most of the "never before seen" footage "uncovered" by Alan Douglas during the latter 1980s, things like The Experience's promo films, 1967 UK Tour, footage of the 1969 European Tour, the crystal clear black and white footage of the Band Of Gypsys at Fillmore East (all with sound by the way), were screened for me by Dan Foster in 1981. {Of course what we're still waiting for are the Albert Hall concerts, one of which ended with a wild jam with Chris Wood and Dave Mason (of Traffic), and Rocki Dijon/Kwasi Dzidzornu (whose hypnotic drumming nailed 'Sympathy For The Devil' on Beggars Banquet) on percussion.   And someone is sitting on the footage of the Experience's Nov. 1968 concert at Lincoln Center at (what was then) Philharmonic Hall, {Hendrix appearance on The Tonight Show (guest hosted by Flip Wilson) here in New York, (shortly after the Experience broke up) with Billy Cox, is lost to history (like John and Paul's appearance announcing Apple 'eh.... apart from the brief interview footage that you can clearly see and hear in Tony Palmer's BBC documentary All My Loving, that is,' and Bob Dylan's appearance in 1966 a few weeks before Blonde On Blonde was released) as the tapes were not saved. As someone who was lucky enough to have been switching channels that night and saw it, it was fascinating to watch. Along with Jimi blowing up a studio amp during Lover Man, and his comical waltz across the stage with Flip Wilson, after which Jimi chased him back across the stage from behind the curtains, the interview segment was interesting to watch; as it was obvious that Flip and Jimi were good friends. Pity that no one ever bothered to interview Flip Wilson on film, about his friendship with Jimi Hendrix.}, Hendrix playing 'If Six Was Nine' using a Magic Bag, on the Dick Cavett Show, which was during Cavett's two weeks of shows following the Woodstock Festival, and Hendrix being interviewed by Ellis Haizlip when he appeared as a guest on Haizlip's program 'Soul' on PBS  .} And finally, David Henderson whose book, 'Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child Of The Aquarian Age' (partly researched at the Hendrix Centre), was the first book with a sweeping scope of it's kind (this was the late 1970s, and from going through the Acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, makes it painfully obvious that Henderson through sheer determination and unrelenting hard work, got the bulk of the interviews that mattered). A groundbreaking biography of not only Jimi Hendrix, but '60s history. That none of these people were interviewed is a shame.
        Trixie Sullivan and Jerry Stickells say just what you would expect them to say in this documentary. Nothing.
        It is good to hear the important interviews with the people who were left, Jimi's father Al Hendrix (without whom), Jimi's cousin Bob, Billy Cox, Eddie Kramer, Linda Keith, Fayne Pridgon, Collette Mimram, Paul McCartney (great footage of the Experience playing 'Sgt Pepper' at Epstein's Saville Theatre, with glimpses of Paul and John in the audience), Chris Welch (the Melody Maker music journalist who wrote  the first Jimi Hendrix biography in 1973, and did a wonderful job), Chas Chandler (without whom), Mitch Mitchell, Buddy Miles, Stevie Winwood, Noel Redding etc...
        You really begin to get the spiritual direction of where Hendrix' music was heading (whether some people liked it or not) when you see and hear him perform the versions of 'Message To Love' at Woodstock, and at the Randalls Island New York Pop Festival in Bonus Features. In both versions you can hear his lyrics very clearly. The Randalls Island footage from 1970 by the way, was originally part of a film named (if I remember correctly) 'The Day The Music Died' aka 'Free Or Freedom', which was a poorly distributed documentary about the 1970 New York Pop Festival; that was circulating around the same time as 'Sweet Toronto', the documentary about the 1969 Toronto Peace Festival.
        Bob Smeaton, the Director of Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin', did a wonderful job on The Beatles Anthology. What happened here?
        This is now the wee hours of the morning and I've just woken up. There's something else I feel needs to be added as an Epilogue to this piece.
        Jimi Hendrix seems to me to have been touched by something very deep. There was something that endeared him to women, which is touched on in Hear My Train A Comin'. I think it came from his mother, who he never really got to know that well; similar to John Lennon with his mother. Both were beautiful women who imbued their sons with something special that lasted their whole lives. Without trying to be too cosmic, it's something that caused a Jimi Hendrix to write a Little Wing or a Drifting, and in between, a Message To Love. The snatches of brilliance in improvisatory inspiration in performance like a Star Spangled Banner and a long and beautiful Villanova Junction Blues (both from Woodstock - Villanova, the entire uncut version (which ended the festival) in the VHS or DVD 'Woodstock: The Director's Cut'), the long and absolutely gorgeous improvisation on Land Of The New Rising Sun, from one of Hendrix' concerts in Scandinavia in 1970, that was played for me on a tape by Dan Foster.  In John Lennon's case, there are of course his songs which I've covered previously when I remember him on his birthday. When my cousin first played me her brand new copy of the album, 'Are You Experienced' (she had called Jimi Hendrix to my attention earlier in the year in a news dispatch from England that was in Crawdaddy Magazine) in Sept. of 1967, immediately the song that impressed me was 'The Wind Cries Mary'. I was able to recognize there was something special about Jimi Hendrix that was in direct connection with what Wes Montgomery was doing at the time. It was the same type of thing that caused Wes to leave us with beautiful versions (I imagine Wes who was considerably older, looking around him at the Vietnam War raging and all of those young men being drafted to go fight what ended up being a losing war, while another horrible war for basic human Civil Rights was raging at home; as the cities began burning.) of poignantly, 'Down Here On The Ground' and Pete Seeger's, 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone'. All of this ends up being about not wasting time. Look around you and don't waste any time. Time is precious. Peace.