After the dissolution of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, there was his Band of Gypsys. Featuring bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, the trio was a black powerhouse, creating music that was just as, if not more, important than The Experience-era Hendrix. Unfortunately, Band of Gypsys was short lived, with the trio disbanding as quickly as it was formed.
However, now we’re getting a couple of treats that put the spotlight on the underrated Hendrix trio. One is a vinyl reissue of the iconic guitarist’s Merry Christmas And Happy New Year compilation. The release begins with a medley of “Little Drummer Boy,” “Silent Night” and “Auld Lang Syne,” which were recorded in 1969 as Jimi and his Band Of Gypsys were rehearsing for their Fillmore East show in New York.
“Knowing that this was going to be a special occasion, Jimi readied and recorded this medley of holiday favorites to celebrate both Christmas and the dawning of a new decade,” reads an accompanying press statement. The B-Side features an extended version of the medley recording, while the A-Side track is “Three Little Bear,” which was recorded with The Experience in 1968, but was originally released on the posthumous compilation War Heroes.
The second release is Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69. Where the former is dedicated to the rehearsals that took place prior to this show, the latter is all about the performance, with several of the tracks being released for the first time. One of those, “Ezy Ryder,” can be checked out via The Wall Street Journal.
Although “Ezy Ryder” had been in development for over a year (and ultimately appeared on Hendrix’s first posthumous album, The Cry of Love) the first time the band played the song live was during this performance.
“We’ll just make up the words as we go along. We got about 20 verses of it,” Hendrix can be heard saying at the beginning of the song.
“The band did rehearse, spending days at Baggies Rehearsal Studios in New York City,” producer John McDermott told WSJ about the Band of Gypsys. “Nothing fancy, just a place for the group to work out the repertoire that Jimi wanted to premiere at the Fillmore East shows.”
Merry Christmas And Happy New Year drops on October 31, while Machine Gun drops September 30.