This incendiary set – recorded at the second Atlanta International Pop Festival on July 4, 1970 – captures Hendrix playing to 400,000 people in a field near the small town of Byron, Georgia. Though billed as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, it was Band Of Gypsys’ bassist Billy Cox, rather than Noel Redding, who took to the stage after midnight alongside Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell.
Opening with a loose Fire, only Message To Love is played from Hendrix’s then-current album Band Of Gypsys. Instead, he mixes The Experience’s hits, such as Purple Haze and Hey Joe, with new songs released posthumously on Cry Of Love and Rainbow Bridge in 1971.
Eleven tracks were released on 1991 box set Stages, but the sound here is massively improved and the five previously unreleased tracks rank among the highlights. An amazing eight and a half minutes of slow blues on Red House confirms what a towering guitarist Hendrix was and a raw, rocking take of All Along The Watchtower hits hard.
Hendrix sounds most engaged on the new songs. The psychedelic Room Full Of Mirrors is followed by the superb blues Hear My Train A Comin’. A powerful Star Spangled Banner rivals the Woodstock performance and segues into a stomping Straight Ahead.
Tragically, just 10 weeks later, Hendrix was dead, but this performance confirms him as far from a spent force.