The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Box sets as catalog ghetto

Collector's Disease

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Winterland (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

Given Jimi Hendrix's improvisational virtuosity, it's no wonder the late guitarist's vaults continually belch forth product. Even for casual completists, however, Winterland is likely too much. This expanded version of 1987 Rykodisc showstopper Live at Winterland bulks up into four discs of recordings from San Francisco's titular venue in October 1968, a week prior to the release of Electric Ladyland. The Seattle southpaw sounds playful and relaxed, having not yet succumbed to road burnout, but the six sets over three nights consist of the same tunes he'd been doing for nearly two years straight – hits ("Fire," "Hey Joe") and covers ("Like a Rolling Stone," "Wild Thing," "Sunshine of Your Love"), with the occasional deeper cut ("Manic Depression," "Spanish Castle Magic") and the noodling jam "Tax Free" – all of them repeated over the different sets. They're all solid performances with plenty of Hendrixian fireworks, but they rarely have the spark needed to lift them above previously released takes. Winterland comes down to this: How many versions of "Red House" (three in this box), "Foxey Lady" (three more), and "Purple Haze" (four) do most folks really need?

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