This richly rewarding four-CD, one- DVD set with 60-page booklet traces Hendrix’s rise from sideman with the Isley Brothers, Little Richard, and King Curtis, to rock-guitar god. The tracks, recorded between 1964 and 1970, are laid out chronologically, illustrating the sweep of Hendrix’s rapidly developing artistry.
Disc 1 spans his work as a sideman; Disc 2 has his breakout sessions with the Experience; Disc 3 includes often funkified jams with organist Larry Young, drummer Buddy Miles, and bassist Billy Cox; and Disc 4 finds Hendrix continuing to experiment and includes “Everlasting First” with Love’s main man Arthur Lee on guitar and vocals. There are 45 previously unreleased or commercially unavailable (but widely bootlegged) tracks in all, both live and studio recordings, including demos from Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland, as well as a rare version of Bob Dylan’s “Tears of Rage” and acoustic renditions of “Long Hot Summer Night” and the epic “1983 (A Merman I Shall Turn to Be).” The remastering is excellent, and the documentary DVD offers an intimate, insightful portrait told through Hendrix’s own words and music with narration by Bootsy Collins. Essential for any serious Hendrix fan.