Directed by Bob Smeaton
Produced by Janie Hendrix & John McDermott
Released by: Experience Hendrix
Rating: NR, suitable for most audiences
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent it.
Jimi Hendrix was easily one of the most influential musicians of the latter half of the 20th century. His impact on rock music, guitar playing, and popular culture was immense. While Jimi was remaking the rock world, another man was remaking the face of late night television: Dick Cavett. With a wry self-deprecating wit and sharp eye for popular culture’s winds of change, Cavett marked the transition from an era where late night TV was aimed squarely at the older crowd to a time when most all post-primetime programming is carefully designed for the college and young professional crowd. Without Cavett, there likely wouldnâ€™t have been a David Letterman or Craig Kilborn.
[ad#longpost]Given their respective influence, it was a natural that the two would cross paths, and this did in fact occur–twice. Hendrix appeared on Cavett’s show for two separate performances, one before and one shortly after his groundbreaking set at Woodstock. In addition to his musical performance, he also sat as an interview guest for Cavett, albeit one that often confounded the host.
This disc presents both appearances, along with a documentary on Hendrix and his appearances. The documentary contains interview footage with bandmates Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, as well as in-depth discussion with Cavett himself about his meetings with Hendrix. The documentary actually contains all the footage from the disc’s other chapters, so if you view the docu, the other sections of the disc are a bit superfluous (unless you’re just dying to hear Cavettâ€™s opening monologues, full of jokes so dated as to be indecipherable to one of my generation).
The performances are decent, but the problems of decades-old television film stock hamper the enjoyment of them. Sound is muddy, and in one of the performances it’s so badly mixed as to make Hendrix’s guitar work nearly inaudible for much of the song. Both performances total to only three songs, so it’s not like there’s a ton of previously unseen performance footage anyway. The docu at least features a few clips from his legendary Woodstock set, and the sound quality there is excellent.
If you’re a Hendrix completist, then this one will likely find its way into your permanent collection. Otherwise, this one bears renting for fans of Hendrix’s music or Cavett’s humor, but everybody else will be no worse for missing it.