The Jimi Hendrix – Blue Wild Angel Live at the Isle of Wight Festival DVD is a pretty essential purchase for Hendrix fans, the boxset contains the concert on two cds, a DVD film with extras and a great booklet with detailed linear notes.
The CD version of the concert boasts three extra songs: ‘Hey Joe,’ ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)’ and the excellent rare blues number ‘Midnight Lightning.’
The main reason to buy the set however, is for the almost 2 hour DVD, which begins as the band wait to take the stage and features the tracks:
“God Save the Queen,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Spanish Castle Magic,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Machine Gun,” “Lover Man,” “Freedom,” “Red House,” “Dolly Dagger,” “Foxey Lady,” “Message to Love,” “Ezy Ryder,” “Purple Haze,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and finally “In From the Storm.”
The sound and visuals are pretty great, and look a little better than the other Hendrix DVDs and have a more balanced set of shots of the whole band and the individual members. There has been a lot of talk about the two occasions on which security walkie-talkie signals can be heard over the main speakers but it is so for so short a period of time and is inconsequential that potential buyer needn’t worry about it.
The performance begins excellently and the band are on top form, nailing every second up until the very end of ‘All Along the Watchtower,’ when Mitch keeps a beat going instead of playing the floor toms, which seems to cause Jimi to lose confidence.
The 20 minute version of ‘Machine Gun,’ is mostly excellent and features a drum solo from Mitch, some lengthy improved sections and would be pretty flawless if it didn’t end to abruptly and had the transition from Drum Solo back into the song been smoother.
From then on, the show is mostly fantastic.. especially on the newer songs like ‘Freedom,’ ‘Dolly Dagger,’ and closer ‘In From the Storm,’ where the only breaks in quality are when Jimi will mess around with the amps or the volume dials on his guitar.
Some fans claim that this is a terrible show, however there are a only few bad mistakes, like on ‘Foxey Lady,’ when Jimi leaves the stage to check he hasn’t ripped the crotch of his trousers and leave a noisey guitar feedback coming out of the speakers while Mitch and Billy continue on, or at the end of the drum solos when, like at Woodstock the band are unsure how to get out of the drum solo and back into the song and make a few stumbling attempts before getting back into the swing of it.
Overall this is a pretty good performance and in places a very good one, plus its the only film with the Billy, Mitch, Jimi trio and features a lot of material from ‘First Rays of the New Rising Sun,’ as well as a 20 minute version of ‘Machine Gun,’ all of which are reasons to give this set a chance.
To summarise, this is a well shot and edited film with an interesting and lengthy set list and is full of improvisations and you shouldn’t be too put off by the ‘bad show,’ claims if you enjoyed the other Hendrix dvds.