- Hendrix in the West finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- This is a fun live album with stellar performances by Jimi – the best of his many posthumous releases
- The awesome version of Little Wing is just killer on this copy – it’s Jimi’s best performance of the song
- 4 stars: “. . . it’s a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it’s a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. . . In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix’s late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance.”
We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is. It takes a pressing like this to really show you the live Jimi Hendrix magic Eddie Kramer got onto tape. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED.
The size and space here are really something, miles beyond most. The resolution and clarity of the open live sound of this copy bring out all the instrumental textures and details of the recording like few we played. More importantly, the extended top keeps the highs from getting hard or harsh the way they do on so many pressings we’ve played.
As these performances are culled from different concerts the sound varies a bit from track to track, but every track on here sounds good and the best tracks sound amazing.
This vintage Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of Hendrix in the West Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
It’s hard to understand why this album isn’t more widely known. The performances are great and the sound is excellent for a vintage live recording.
Naturally not every copy sounds as good as this one. We heard a lot of pressings with too much grit and grain, and many that badly lacked presence. When I play a live album, I want to feel like I am there at the show (and to do that I set the volume accordingly, of course) but with most copies that just isn’t possible.
Thanks to Eddie Kramer’s amazing engineering, this album will have Jimi playing live in your listening room, and what a thrill it is to hear it all these years later (and on dramatically better equipment).
What We’re Listening For on Hendrix in the West
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
The Queen (British National Anthem)
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Johnny B. Goode
Blue Suede Shoes
AMG 4 Star Review
There were a lot of terrible album debacles in the wake of Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970, but there were a handful of keepers. The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge were both excellent, but now the material from both albums has been officially released as part of First Rays of the New Rising Sun or on another compilation. Even the best material from the really bad albums like Midnight Lightning and War Heroes, has now been officially released without the egregious posthumous overdubs. But somehow, In the West, one of those keepers, remained basically out of print until 2011.
Yes, it’s a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it’s a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. The opening sequence of “God Save the Queen” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is rare and excellent in itself, and Hendrix’s intro is hilarious (he was a truly funny guy). “Little Wing” and “I Don’t Live Today” (not on the original LP) were also live rarities for Hendrix, but not as rare as him covering “Blue Suede Shoes” or “Johnny B. Goode” (an absolutely blistering version that might top Chuck Berry’s). “Lover Man” was a live staple, but in this version, Hendrix slips in a quote from “Flight of the Bumble Bee,” and listen for a quote from “Tomorrow Never Knows” in “I Don’t Live Today.” Fans familiar with the original vinyl should note some differences. The versions of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Little Wing” (recorded at Royal Albert Hall) have recently been released elsewhere, so they’ve been replaced with versions from San Diego 1969 and Winterland 1968 (oddly enough, this very same version of “Little Wing” was also released on the Winterland box set the same day). In addition, to “I Don’t Live Today,” “Fire,” and “Spanish Castle Magic” are added as bonus tracks, also from the San Diego show.
Old vinyl fetishists may quibble that the tracks have been resequenced, but most listeners will have no idea. In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix’s late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance in the digital world.