The rights to the Royal Albert Hall 69 recordings initially belonged to the film makers Steve Gold and Jerry Goldstein, who had been commissioned to film The Jimi Hendrix Experience on their January European tour. According to John McDermott (in Setting The Record Straight), Gold & Goldstein reportedly filmed “a number of concerts”! 90,000 feet of film, including many off stage moments at Vienna, Berlin, Strasbourg and Stockholm).
However, Gold & Goldstein only used the Royal Albert Hall footage (from the 24th February 1969 performance) for their doomed movie which was titled simply “Experience”. That movie was screened once before disappearing forever. Apparently, Mike Jeffery didn’t like the movie and had got Warner Brothers to halt its distribution altogether.

Noel said in his book that Warner Bros. were ready to go with the album and film in the early 70s but things came to a halt because of his and Mitch’s claims. Then the filmmakers went their own way and some soundtrack recordings were released as “Experience” and “More Experience” on the Ember label (see below).
The Hendrix estate didn’t have rights to use any of these recordings without agreement from Gold & Goldstein but Mike Jeffery included the brilliant Little Wing and Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) on Hendrix In The West – and he got sued for it in 1974! Then in 1982, the Hendrix estate sued Gold & Goldstein to prevent them from releasing the movie! Then in the late 90s, duplicate tapes of the February 24th performance leaked and were unofficially released on a multitude of labels. What a mess!

Here is a run-down of the releases of the recordings over the decades.

The two OFFICIAL 70's releases:

“EXPERIENCE” – (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) ♥♥♥

Released July 1971 (Ember)

SIDE 1: Sunshine Of Your Love (Bruce/Brown/Clapton), Room Full Of Mirrors
SIDE 2: Bleeding Heart (Jones/Bell), Smashing Of Amps

This was an official release (Gold & Goldstein owning the rights to the recordings). It was the very first JHE live album, featuring the band during their last UK performance at the Royal Albert Hall (24/02/69). They had also performed a week earlier on the 18th at the same venue but that gig was disappointing according to some. Chas Chandler said that if he had been their manager at that time, he would have sacked the rhythm section on the spot ! Evidently the band got it together for this concert which was one of, if not the best Experience performance captured on tape. Monterey of course presents the band at their most spectacular and energetic, but here, in their last months, they rose to the occasion with some breathtaking performances.

It had been announced to the press before Christmas 1968 that The Experience would be splitting up in 1969, though not on a permanent basis. These concerts were obviously of great importance to the band, seeing as London was where they had begun, so it was decided that the event should be filmed. After the two gigs there, Jimi had mentioned to the press that the recordings would be released at some point in time. The movie was screened once, before disappearing because of contractual problems, and has hardly ever been seen since.
This album however, had a strange selection of tracks in an effort to present songs that were previously unreleased. “Sunshine Of Your Love” is Jimi’s fast instrumental version of the famous Cream song (1) incorporating the basic riff from “Outside Woman Blues” (also part of Cream’s repertoire) and it soon goes into a heavy Noel Redding bass solo. The embyonic “Room Full Of MIrrors” is an exciting jam featuring Traffic members Chris Wood on flute and Dave Mason on guitar plus percussionist Rocky Dzidournu(2) and on the night it was the continuation of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” towards the end of the set. Jimi’s cover of Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart” (sometimes called “Peoples, Peoples, Peoples” or “C-Sharp Blues”) is just fantastic, with his vocals and guitar locking together perfectly. “Smashing Of Amps” is rather pointless on record and on the night, Jimi went wild for the cameras, for old times sake, with a brief reference to The Star Spangled Banner. He had really abandoned this sort of thing by then. In fact I think it was his very last guitar smashing exercise. Goodbye to the “Wild Man”.

Deleted

Tracks reissued:
Bleeding Heart – Jimi Hendrix Concerts
+ tracks spread across the unofficial Charly albums “Experience-Soundtrack” (1 CD), “Albert Hall Experience” (2 CD), “The Last Experience” (3 CD).

In 2005 the unofficial Purple Haze Records released “An Evening With The Jimi Hendrix Experience” (Purple Haze Records) which was the best presentation yet of the recordings.

(1)It is said that Cream wrote “Sunshine Of You Love” as a hommage to Jimi just after his arrival in London !
(2)You can see Rocky performing with The Stones in the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus” film, in which Mitch also appears.

THE COVER
This certainly looks like a film soundtrack ! The image of Jimi is from the film. 7/10

MORE “EXPERIENCE” ♥♥♥

Released March 1972 (Ember)

Little Ivey (Little Wing), Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Room Full of Mirrors(remix), Fire, Purple Haze, Wild Thing (Taylor), Bleeding Heart(remix) (Jones/Bell)

More recordings from the superb Albert Hall 1969 show and evidently Ember mustn’t have had rights to enough tracks for a substantial second album, so two tracks from “Experience” reappear in a clumsy collage mix. In trying to squeeze two albums out of the tapes, Ember missed the chance to issue a killer of an album. The fantastic versions of “Little Wing” and “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” are identical to those on “In The West”. Fire” is just perfect.

This is 1969 and Jimi was long since tired of putting on his “Wild Man” show and the band made an effort to really explore their music on stage, with almost every number becoming a long jam. Jimi’s playing was impeccable throughout this concert but tuning problems at the end of the gig threw him a little off mark on the final “Purple Haze” /”Wild Thing”.
Deleted

Tracks reissued:
Little Wing, Voodoo Chile – “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” purple box set
+ tracks spread across the unofficial Charly albums “Experience-Soundtrack” (1 CD), “Albert Hall Experience” (2 CD), “The Last Experience” (3 CD).

THE COVER
A nice live shot of Jimi at the 24 February gig
7/10

The unofficial releases

“EXPERIENCE” ♥♥♥♥

Released June 1979 (Vogue)

Opening Jam (Sunshine of your Love), Little Ivey (Little Wing), Room Full of Mirrors, Fire, C Blues (Bleeding Heart), Purple Haze, Wild Thing, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

I’m not sure how this French label release came on the market. Did Vogue strike an official deal with Gold & Goldstein? It’s a superb album which nicely combined the previous Ember Records albums “Experience” and “More Experience”. This is really the album that Ember should have put out in the first place!

Deleted

THE COVER
The photo is the wrong way round, showing a right handed Hendrix. Zut alors! 0/10

 

THE LEAKED COPY TAPES!

Somehow, Gold & Goldstein’s accountant Bernard Solomon got hold of some copies of the tapes and proceeded to lease them to other labels without permission! It’s thought that Eric Burdon leaked the copy tapes as he had strong connections with Goldstein who had previously managed Eric Burdon & War. This was of course a big problem for Gold & Goldstein (who called themselves The Last Experience Incorporated) and of course for the Hendrix estate(s).
Even up to 2008, both parties and were still chasing after various labels which continued to release the Royal Albert Hall recordings illegally. The labels themselves believed they had legal rights to release the recordings!

Original Soundrack To The Motion Picture “EXPERIENCE” ♥♥♥♥

Released 1997 (Charly Records)

Sunshine Of Your Love, Bleeding Heart, Fire, Little Wing, Voodooo Chile ( Slight Return), Room Full Of Mirrors, Purple Haze, Wild Thing, Smashing Of The Amps

Like with the French release on Vogue back in 1979, this is a combination of the old “Experience” and “More Experience” albums, without the stupid remixes that spoilt the latter. This makes a great CD, it’s just a shame that other tracks from this landmark gig weren’t added. With “Hendrix In The West” deleted at the time, this was a valuable source of the tracks “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Little Wing”. More songs from the Albert Hall would follow from Charly and other labels in the years to come.

THE COVER
Here we see the band at the same photo session that produced the group shot for the back of the US “Electric Ladyland”. Slick typo
8/10

ALBERT HALL EXPERIENCE ♥♥♥

Released 2002 (Charly)

CD 1: – Stone Free, Getting My Heart Back Together Again I Don’t Live Today, Red House, Foxy Lady, Sunshine Of Your Love, Bleeding Heart

CD 2: Fire, Little Wing, Voodoo Chile (slight Return), Room Full Of Mirrors, Purple Haze, Wild Thing, The Star Spangled Banner & Smashing Of The Amps, The Star Spangled Banner & Smashing Of The Amps (bonus Track), Bleeding Heart (edited Version), Room Full Of Mirrors (edited Version)

Soon after the above CD came this double release. Great new tracks from the 24th of February Albert Hall concert surfaced here (well they had appeared on another obscure label a little before but it is clearer to introduce them this way). The “Red House” had appeared previously on the rare “Red House – Variations on a theme”. Charly could have brought us the complete show here but for some stupid reason, “Lover Man” was left off and some useless bonus and “edited” versions were tagged on at the end! “Lover Man” was to appear on the following release from Charly. What a mess they made of all this great material. Still, there is some fantastic music here.

To make matters worse:

WARNING !
There are two versions of this double CD out there ! One (the more recent edition I imagine) features the actual Albert Hall tracks but another edition has these versions instead:
“Getting My Heart Back Together Again” (Winterland 10/10/1968) – previously on “Jimi Hendrix Concerts”
“Red House” Randalls Island, New York, (07/17/1970) – previously on “Jimi Hendrix Concerts”
“Foxy Lady” (Los Angeles Forum (4/26/1969) – previously on “Jimi Hendrix Concerts” (CD version only)
“I Don’t Live Today” (San Diego Sports Arena (05/24/1969) – previously on “Stages 69”

The CD with the real Albert Hall tracks carries the serial number SNAF 822 CDX. I was able to verify all this thanks to tracks that people sent me to settle the argument.
Thanks to Hendrix fans Pauli, Glenn and Bob for information which helped me get to the bottom of this !

THE COVER
The same photo that was used on the 1979 French Vogue release, but the right way round this time ! Not a good cover however
5/10

THE LAST EXPERIENCE ♥♥♥

Released 2002 (Charly)

CD 1: 24 February – Lover Man, Stone Free, Getting My Heart Back Together Again, I Don’t Live Today, Red House, Foxy Lady, Sunshine Of Your Love, Bleeding Heart

CD 2: 24 February + soundchecks – Fire, Little Wing, Voodoo Chile (slight Return), Room Full Of Mirrors, Purple Haze, Wild Thing, The Star-spangled Banner & Smashing Of The Amps, Bleeding Heart (edited Version), Room Full Of Mirrors (edited Version), Hey Joe (soundcheck ), Hound Dog #1 (instrumental – soundcheck), Hound Dog #2 (soundcheck), Hound Dog #3 (instrumental – soundcheck), Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (soundcheck), Getting My Heart Back Together Again (soundcheck)

CD 3: 18 February : Tax Free, Fire, Getting My Heart Back Together Again #1, Foxy Lady, Red House, Sunshine Of Your Love, Spanish Castle Magic, The Star Spangled Banner/Purple Haze, Voodoo Chile (slight Return) – poor recording

A triple CD box which features the complete Albert Hall 1969 tapes (at last!) . This is the real thing, the complete Royal Albert Hall performance. This came just after the above silly 2 CD release! Just what were Charly up to? One wondered if the next release would be a 4 CD set complete with backstage chat added. Here again unfortunately, the stupid edited versions are included. Was anyone sober while compiling these things?

Anyway here it is in all it’s splendor, the February 24th gig, perhaps the greatest Jimi Hendrix Experience concert of all. Jimi is not as exuberant and bubbly as in the early days of course but his awesome playing and the extended set are tremendous. He’s there, quite humbly, in London’s most prestigious concert hall and at the summit of his career, only a few months after the release of his greatest album. The band had announced before Christmas that they were to split up in order to persue personnal projects. This was therefore a sort of farewell tour and the band must have felt they owed something to Britain seeing as they had only performed one concert on the islands in all of 1968 (Woburn Abbey). So Jimi rewards the gathering with an incredible performance. He is totally concentrated with an impeccable sound system behind him. Only the finale “Purple Haze”/”Wild Thing”/”Star Spangled Banner” is slightly flawed due to tuning problems which throw Jimi off mark a little. The band had indicated that this was their final tour before their (temporary) break up. Hence the title “The Last Experience”.

The soundchecks
CD2 is padded out with some mono soundcheck rehearsals, which are quite interesting, though some songs are incomplete. “Voodoo Child” falls apart after a minute for example whereas “Getting My Heart Back Together” lasts a good five minutes or so, with some great playing along the way. “Hey Joe” is a little raggedy but complete. Interestingly, there are three stabs at the Leiber and Stoller classic “Hound Dog” (which the band had also featured in one of their BBC Radio One sessions in 1967.*). Only one of the takes here has vocals but all three feature some superb rhythm playing and solos from Jimi.
More Albert Hall soundchecks turned up on the unofficial “An Evening With The Jimi Hendrix Experience” (Purple Haze Records 2005)

18th February show
Surprise, surprise, the third CD features the February 18th concert at the same venue! Unfortunately the sound is appalling! If you ever wondered what this gig sounded like from the Royal Albert Hall toilets, then this is for you. It is pretty unlistenable. In contrast to the superb second Albert hall date, Chas Chandler described the February 18th performance as one of the worst he had seen the band play, not entirely due to Jimi but to the rhythm section who he reckoned weren’t together at all. Noel admitted later that he was so fed up with Jimi that he would sometimes deliberately play out of tune to sabotage the gigs! That would obviously throw Mitch off track as well. Noel thankfully quit a few months later after a gig in Denver, Colorado. However, a later bootleg soundboard recording of the February 18th gig revealed a pretty good show!

There is of course some truly great music on those first two CDs, so the album gets a four star rating like with the two CD release, despite the rip off additions here.

*Also, in the unreleased “Experience” movie, there is a short sequence where Jimi improvises an acoustic “Hound Dog” while sitting on a bed surrounded by friends.

THE COVER
Not much off-the-shelf impact here but quite a classy job, with Jimi in outer space above the Royal Albert Hall
8/10

The cover was changed for the December 2006 re-release of the 3 CD “The Last Experience”.

Many other releases of these tapes have also appeared on the market over the years and some Albert Hall recordings have even turned up on dodgy labels, mixed with pre-Experience tracks (eg. “Rare As love”) or 1968 Scene Club tracks (eg. “The Total Experience”) – pictured below.

“An Evening With The Jimi Hendrix Experience”.
The excellent, unofficial and now deleted version by Purple Haze Records.
This also featured three superb rehearsal outtakes that weren’t on the Charly’s The Last Experience.

A re-release of the above CD but on the labels Msi and Spanish Castle Magic Records (Mike Jeffery Estate – see that section of the unnoficial releases).

This Albert Hall CD turned up free with the Sunday Times in 2006 !
The newspaper was subsequently attacked by the Hendix estate.

A hefty bootleg box from Virgin Vinyl Records (nothing to do with Richard Branson’s group)
with this 3 LP/2CD/1DVD limited numbered edition (500 copies).

An official release…when?

After the lengthy legal dispute between the Hendrix estate and Jerry Goldstein, it looked like things were under way to release the film in 2016 across screens all over the world (IMAX 3D) but it never happened.
However on October 21, 2019 there was a one-off screening of the film at the very hall where it was filmed. This is thought to have been simply a way to secure the copyright before the 50 years (since the recordings) were up. Still, it was good news to see that the different parties were talking again. We are still impatiently waiting.

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