Title: Jimi Plays Berkeley
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix L.L.C./SonyLegacy
Formats: DVD, Blu-ray
Release date: July 10, 2012
Jimi Plays Berkeley splices archival footage of Jimi Hendrix’s 1970 concert performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre with documentary footage of the Berkeley street scene. While video of Jimi’s 1970 Berkeley show has already been commercially released, Jimi Plays Berkeley boasts an expanded, digitally remastered edition for ardent collectors of the Hendrix catalog. It is more or less a reissue with some new bells and whistles—5.1 surround stereo sound and 15 minutes of previously unreleased concert and documentary footage.
The documentary contextualizes Hendrix’s stage act within Berkeley’s political scene in hippiedom’s last lap, and gives a snapshot of what his life was like on any given day: riding around town with his backseat groupies, wearing magisterial dress (on stage and off), and captivating his audience with the flamboyant guitar antics for which he is so well known. In fact, the street interviews remind viewers that Hendrix was considered a rock god even then, without the 40+ intervening years of musical nostalgia. And yet, the interviews and B-roll footage of Berkeley scenesters are gratuitously used throughout, making for a boring distraction from our headlining act (in the liner notes, the producer admits to a lack of good concert footage). But like so much of the recently released items from the Hendrix vaults, Jimi Plays Berkeley proves that a mediocre document of a larger-than-life figure can still make for enjoyable viewing.
Following is the official trailer:
Reviewed by Betsy Shepherd