In their three years together, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played more than 300 shows together. And in the 54 years since they broke up, it feels like they’ve released nearly as many live albums.
But the new Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 (CD, vinyl, digital) is somewhat unique in being that it comes from a show where most of the attendees, if not all, were unfamiliar with the band, let alone the music they were about to, well, experience.
Photo Credit: Brian T. Colvil /
© Authentic Hendrix LLC
Recorded, obviously, on August 18, 1967 at the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, the cleverly titled Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 happened just five days before The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their first album, Are You Experienced?, in the U.S.
Now, the album was already out in England at that point (since May 12, 1967, to be exact), and the band had already played nearly two dozen shows in the states, including at the nearby Whiskey-A-Go-Go on July 2nd. But this was a very different time, and without the benefit of the Internet, YouTube, or Spotify, it’s unlikely anyone who came to the Bowl that night knew who The Jimi Hendrix Experience were, or what kind of music they played, especially since it wasn’t their show; they were opening for The Mama’s & The Papa’s.
Which would be the least appropriate band for them to open for had they not, a month earlier, opened for The Monkees.
Despite this, playing to a crowd who’d come to see a harmonizing folk group didn’t seem to faze The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as the show presented on Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 is as fiery and feisty as any of the live recordings from shows where someone was opening for them.
It’s also not to say that people in the audience that night were completely unfamiliar with the songs The Jimi Hendrix Experience played…just that they might not have recognized them.
Of the nine songs the Experience played that night, five were covers, and as you know having listened to their version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” when The Jimi Hendrix Experience played a cover, they made it their own.
This is obvious from the get-go, as The Jimi Hendrix Experience opens Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 with a quick but funky cover of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (which itself was only a few months old).
They then blasted through Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” going back to the blues later on for Muddy Waters’ “Catfish Blues,” which they took it from smoldering atomic blues to something soulful to a blast of hard rock.
Finally, they ended the show by tearing through a fiery version of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
As for the fifth cover on Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967, this, interestingly, would be Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” which they oddly played rather Dylan-ly…save for the guitars having Jimi’s signature rough tone.
Photo Credit: Chuck Boyd /
© Authentic Hendrix LLC
As for their own songs, that starts after “Killing Floor” with “The Wind Cries Mary” from what was then the upcoming Are You Experienced? (And specifically, that version of the album; it’s not on the British edition).
This was followed by “Foxey Lady,” “Fire,” and “Purple Haze,” which, true to form (if other recordings from the time are to be believed), sound very much like they did on Experienced?
It was, suffice it to say, an impressive show from a band who would go on to play 300+ more of them.
It’s also an impressive recording of that show. While it has some of the roughness that soundboard recordings have from back then — it doesn’t sound as good as, say, a soundboard recording from one of Beyonce or Taylor Swift’s recent concerts, which benefit from improved technology and having modern audio engineers who know how to record shows better — Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 still sounds really good; clear and crisp.
It sounds as good as other live albums from the late-’60s, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 or the live disc in the Electric Ladyland: Deluxe Edition 50th Anniversary box Set (which, interestingly, was also recorded at the Hollywood Bowl, albeit 13 months later, and with Big Brother & The Holding Company and The Chambers Brothers opening for the Experience).
Now, along with presenting a great show, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 is also, as I mentioned, one of their earliest live recordings. The only one that proceeds it is Live At Monterey, which documents the aforementioned first U.S. show on June 18, 1967, while Stockholm ’67, from the now out-of-print Stages boxed set, happened less than a month later, on September 5th.
Not surprisingly, all three have many of the same songs, with “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Foxey Lady,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze” appearing on all three. In fact, the biggest difference between them is the length: Live At Monterey and Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 are both around 43 minutes long, while Stockholm ’67, which has one less song (and no one introducing them), is just over half-an-hour.
This brings me to the only real bummer about Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967, though it’s not something that could’ve been avoided: its length. Which makes sense, given that they were the opening act, not the headliner. And, as I just noted, was not out of character, either. But it’s still a bummer we couldn’t hear them play more than just nine songs.
Still, given when this happened,
where, and the circumstances (with the Experience as the opening act, not the headliner), and, most importantly, the music itself, Hollywood Bowl, August 18, 1967 is still a great live album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. While the crowd that night didn’t know what to expect, you can be damn sure they remembered what they experienced.