Title - 'Rainbow Bridge' Vinyl LP (Experience Hendrix)
Artist - Jimi Hendrix
Released in 1971, Rainbow Bridge brought us tracks recorded in 1969 and 1970, during the same sessions that spawned, The Cry Of Love. Often thought of as a "live" album, it is far from that. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the film of the same name features excerpts of a live Hendrix performance in Maui. But that film was never a Hendrix project in any way shape or form. Instead it was a independent vision of his manager Michael Jeffrey.
Moving on and Rainbow Bridge has now been compiled and mixed by Hendrix's longtime engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell - with assistance, as with the other just-released Hendrix album, The Cry Of Love - from fellow Electric Lady Studios engineer John Jansen.
Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, Hendrix is still widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music; and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".
Just released for the very first time CD by Experience Hendrix, and remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog masters, I have to fully admit now that I am actually reviewing the VINYL release of the album! Also just released, this time on 200 gram, remastered vinyl, it contains exactly the same amount of tracks; but I'm old school and love the sound of vinyl. Especially "new" vinyl of old material like this, so do yourselves a favor and check this version out.
Moving on, and Rainbow Bridge explores new guitar styles and textures from Hendrix at the time. Indeed, all the songs, save for a solo studio version of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' are written by Hendrix and mostly performed with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox on bass.
Containing the only "live" track, the incredible 'Hear my Train' (recorded at a performance of his at Berkley Community Theatre in May of 1970), complete with its rip roaring intro it is quite easily the best track on this newly-remastered album. The last track on the album 'Hey Baby' isn't anything more than a demo, although brought together after Hendrix passed you can't help wondering what it might have turned into.
To be quite frank, all the songs on Rainbow Bridge represent material in various stages of development and were never finalized or approved for release by Hendrix. Four of the songs on the album, along with the ten songs from The Cry of Love and three from War Heroes, were planned for Hendrix's follow-up album to the live Band of Gypsys, released in March 1970.
That said, the fact that Buddy Miles and Noel Redding both appear on one track each, and the Ronnettes provide backing vocals on 'Earth Blues' goes to show that Hendrix was already expanding his musical horizons. In short, on CD and now also on this incredible remastered vinyl, Rainbow Bridge is still an insightful, MUST HAVE album for any Hendrix fan.