The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Live In Maui’ Serves Up Least Pleasant Sounding Of Hendrix Archival Releases (ALBUM REVIEW)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience concert played on July 30th, 1970 during The Cry of Love tour dubbed Rainbow Bridge has always been a bit confusing for Hendrix fans. The 1971 film only contained a bit of Hendrix playing while the album titled Rainbow Bridge actually had no music from this concert at all. Now a new archival release, Live in Maui, captures everything the band played on this date. 

The second to last concert Hendrix ever delivered in America, Maui offers a chance to hear the maestro play with the new Experience, substituting Noel Redding on bass by bringing in Billy Cox who is more grounded in his rhythm allowing both Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell to truly get out there. The show begins with Chuck Wein’s straight-up flower power hippie introduction delivering the listener straight back to the strange year of 1970. 

When the trio took the stage the musicians faced the problem of playing on an unprotected windswept pasture elevated on the side of a volcano. The sound quality on bootlegs of this show from years past is dreadful, and while there is a sonic upgrade here, the fact remains it is one of the least pleasant-sounding Hendrix archive releases. Mitchell re-recorded his drums a year after the live show and while the low end’s improved, Jimi is muffled and distant throughout Live in Maui.

Even with the B grade sound, fans will still eat this up as any live Hendrix is good Hendrix. The two sets recorded on this date find the band driving through fast versions of old singles and toying with new songs/arrangements/jams that didn’t even have agreed upon titles yet. 

One of those, “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)”, kicks things off with great group interplay, Hendrix vocals are muffled while his guitar work is mellow and exploratory before more scattered playing from the trio drips into “In from the Storm”.  A dispassionate run-through of “Foxey Lady” leads to a solid “Hear My Train A Comin'” which is cooking but doesn’t live up to the soaring Live at Berkeley version. 

The highlight of the early show is the dynamite “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” where Jimi pulls out laser-like effects blazing a fiery path that bleeds conveniently enough into “Fire”. Cox had mentioned that he wanted to really dive into Hendrix’s back catalog on this tour, but Jimi was clearly moving forward and the best example of this mindset is the “Dolly Dagger” > “Villanova Junction” > “Ezy Ryder” trio of tunes in the second show. Hendrix, Cox, and Mitchell are locked in and flow through these new songs with ease and confidence, while frantic riff work starts off the run a smooth grove dominates and points towards a funkier direction Hendrix may have traveled had he lived longer. 

The versions of “Freedom” and “Jam Back At The House” aren’t as successful with the “Jam” in particular not really going anywhere over its eight-minute run time. The set-closing “Stone Free” is wound up and Hendrix seems to want to blaze forward even pump faking “Hey Joe” before ending the set abruptly. 

Live in Maui is an average show, with below-average sound, which has taken on a higher standard coming so close to Hendrix’s untimely death and the hippie nonsense surrounding it. However, Live in Maui is still an interesting listen for long-time fans and completists just not a place new listeners should start. In truth, any Hendrix concert is worth hearing, but this one doesn’t contend with many other fantastic releases already out there. 

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4 Responses

  1. Terrible review, terrible depiction of how the concert really went. Will certainly never read on this website again.

  2. With any archival classic rock release, I think you should always be curious why it’s been left in the vaults for so long.
    From the documentary footage that has already come out over the years, I’d always suspected it was the sound quality from the wind and it seems like that’s confirmed by this review. Very helpful for deciding whether or not to purchase this. Thanks.

  3. What a horrible review. This is the holy grail live album for true Hendrix fans……his playing was awesome……..Fuck this nerd…..

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