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“Jimi Hendrix: Guitar Hero”
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Image
Genre:
Music
Release Date:
10/26/10
Special Features:

Extended interviews, footage of Jimi Hendrix and The Experience playing “Hey Joe”, footage from The Monkees tour Rated: NR

Review:

If any dead rock star’s back catalog has been exploited as poorly and completely as Elvis’ and Jimi Hendrix’s I can’t think of them. ***

The two good things that came out of Jimi’s dad suing the major labels for control of Jimi’s music is that there has at least been some consistently, better quality releases of late and less “fly-by-night releases. While “Jimi Hendrix: Guitar Hero” certainly is worthier than many of these releases, it lacks one thing that truly is important to a film about one of the most important guitar players and most influential musicians since Robert Johnson—footage of Hendrix playing on stage. ***

I’m sure that the producer/director had some licensing issues which may play into the lack of footage of Hendrix but it would be more effective to SEE him play rather than hear all of his peers TALK about how he played. There certainly is a lot of worthwhile interviews with contemporaries that knew Hendrix (the usual suspects such as Clapton, Dave Mason, Peter Townshend, Ginger Baker, Lemmy of Motorhead and more unusual ones such as Slash who appears but doesn’t narrate the entire documentary as the box states). So context isn’t the issue here nor really is perspective but a lack of physical evidence for those who never saw Hendrix on stage or the previous films that featured him performing. ---

Image & Sound:

Considering the multiple sources for “JH:GH”, the DVD looks quite good. We have vintage footage as well as current video interviews that look as good as possible. Detail is good for the newer footage while the vintage material depending on source varies from soft to decent looking. ***

The stereo soundtrack is quite nice and, given that Hendrix’s material was recorded for mono and stereo presentation it’s more than adequate. ---

Special Features:

We get extended interviews with Dave Mason, Stephen Stills and others in addition to a pair of stills galleries. We also get silent footage shot on the tour with Hendrix opened for The Monkees (!). Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork were both huge Hendrix fans at the time and the band arranged for Hendrix to be their opening act which probably bewildered and enraged the hormone enhanced teenage girl audience that were the target audience for The Monkees at the time. Hendrix came as a shock to both the girls and their parents as to whether or not they appreciated him let’s just say that after a few dates Hendrix dropped out as opening act recognizing that he was playing to the wrong audience. ***

The Monkees footage is silent and runs about 11 minutes and, quite honestly, I didn’t see Jimi hanging with them but I could have missed his cameo in the proceedings. Actually the footage would be more of interest to Monkees fans than Hendrix fans. ***

We also get to see Jimi with The Experience play “Hey Joe” which although not a big hit for Jimi on AM radio got quite a bit of airplay on FM stations at the

Final Words:

I wouldn’t characterize this as a bad biography/retrospective looking at Hendrix’s impact on music just incomplete. The director for reasons of licensing no doubt couldn’t get more footage of Jimi playing live and there IS footage of him on TV and from films that could have been used and intercut more to illustrate the points made in the interviews by Jimi’s peers that are interviewed. It also might have been interesting to hear from younger players as well to see how Jimi’s influence continues to resonate with them as well. I’d recommend renting rather than buying just to see if this is going to be something you’ll watch multiple times.

 

 
 
 
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