Picks and Pans Review: Bbc Sessions

updated 07/27/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/27/1998 01:00AM

The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Experience Hendrix/MCA)

This recently unearthed trove exists because of a 1960s agreement between a musician's union and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Fearing that audiences wouldn't buy records they could hear for free on radio, the union negotiated limits to on-air record playing. That prompted the BBC to begin presenting live performances of top acts, including Stevie Wonder, who shows up here playing drums as Hendrix reinvents Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her" as a high-speed guitar jam. Even now Hendrix's playing sounds incendiary; these live performances (recorded between 1967 and 1969) must have set teacups rattling throughout the Empire. Hendrix turns in fine versions of his hits ("Purple Haze," "Foxey Lady") as well as startling covers, including the Beatles' "Day Tripper" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." Captured on only three studio albums before his death at 27 in 1970, Hendrix's sound finds new life on these two CDs.

Bottom Line: Pure gold from the BBC vaults

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