West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology

[Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy]


At some point the world resigned itself to the idea that every scrap of tape left behind by musical giants like Miles Davis and John Coltrane was worth hearing—that every alternate version was at least a little revealing, and even a seconds-long take that broke down before getting started offered a glimpse into the creative process. It’s time we stop griping about the seemingly endless stream of posthumous releases from the brief but fruitful career of Jimi Hendrix and acknowledge that his genius was on par with that of any jazz luminary whose castoffs ever found a spot on a box set. The five-disc West Coast Seattle Boy demonstrates why, offering a bounty of unreleased and rare material that is at best captivating and at worst still worth a listen.

This set attempts for the first time to integrate Hendrix’s early work as a session player into his canon, kicking off with a disc of numbers by Little Richard, the Isley Brothers and others who employed the budding guitarist in the mid-1960s. When an alternate recording of Hendrix’s own “Fire” kicks off the second disc, we can hear more clearly than ever the Chitlin’ Circuit origins of its frantic R&B energy; by the following cut, a sprawling instrumental take on “Are You Experienced?,” he’s already headed into the psychedelic stratosphere. The fifth disc is a DVD featuring a compelling 90-minute documentary narrated by Bootsy Collins, who reads Hendrix’s own words in a pitch-perfect voice that echoes the late master’s manner while never devolving into imitation. – Chris Neal

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