Jimi Hendrix

Band Of Gypsys/Live At The Fillmore East

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Video Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating g.gif (1187 bytes) Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 82:33 Minutes  Other Extras Photo Gallery
Menu Audio
Featurette - Live At The Fillmore East (57:35)
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Bob Smeaton
MCA Records
Universal Music & Video Distribution
Starring Jimi Hendrix
Billy Cox
Noel Redding
Buddy Miles
Mitch Mitchell
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Jimi Hendrix
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 448Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    As the name suggests, Jimi Hendrix: Band Of Gypsys/Live At The Fillmore East contains footage cobbled together from two distinct features. The first of these is a documentary called Band Of Gypsys, which details the period in Jimi Hendrix's life when he wanted to move on from his Jimi Hendrix Experience days and expand the band. As a result of this desire, bassist/backing vocalist Noel Redding was the first to leave the Experience, due to increasing frustrations with the amount of work that a partnership with Hendrix entailed. He was quickly replaced by an old friend of Jimi's by the name of Billy Cox, who, like Redding, offers his own insights into the evolution between Experience and Gypsys. Mitch Mitchell followed suit a little while later due to some contractual problems and general music business hoopla. He was also replaced with a man acquainted with Hendrix from earlier days in the music scene, a rather large drummer/vocalist by the name of Buddy Miles. Personally, I prefer the Jimi Hendrix Experience to the Band Of Gypsys, but this is a moot point when you consider that the music is primarily written by the same man.

    The second feature on this disc is a bonus of sorts, turning the DVD into a double feature with footage of a famous concert at the Fillmore East, predictably titled Live At The Fillmore East. The packaging makes it clear that this is enclosed as a bonus feature rather than a feature in itself, which is just as well given that a disc consisting solely of this footage would be a laughing stock in quality terms. Personally, I find it hard to recommend this disc to anyone after experiencing the Live At Woodstock DVD, but if you're a major fan of Hendrix, then this may be worthy of a spot in your collection.

Transfer Quality


    In the case of the Band Of Gypsys main feature, the footage ranges from about two to thirty years in age, and it often shows up during some of the shots used to comprise this presentation, much like the Warner Classic Albums series discs.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame aspect ratio with NTSC formatting, and it is not 16x9 enhanced. The transfer's sharpness really varies according to age, with the thirty-year-old black and white footage in particular suffering from some serious problems. Shadow detail in the historical footage is poor, but most of it consists of well-lit concerts on a stage, anyway. Low-level noise is something of a problem at times, but no more than you'd expect with footage this age.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, and like Live At Woodstock, the transfer rate is constantly up at the ten megabits per second maximum that DVD allows. Film-to-video artefacts were prevalent during the snippets of historical footage, with video ghosting of the performers being quite a problem during the Fillmore East footage, which appears to have simply been taken from the bonus featurette anyway. Some edge enhancement appears to be present in the present day interviews, but this was only occasionally noticeable and rather mild.

    This disc is presented as a Dual Layered DVD, with no layer change discernible at any point. This  would indicate that each feature has been encoded onto a layer of its own. This is not an ideal way to encode the disc for a number of reasons, but given the fact that the main feature looks and sounds fine when it isn't showing footage taken from the featurette, it is perfectly sufficient.


    The video quality may range from good to poor, but the audio quality is something of a more even-tempered beast, even if the mix is limited during the historical footage. As is the case with the Live At Woodstock DVD, there is only one audio track on this DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track with a somewhat higher than usual data rate of 448 Kilobits per second. The dialogue is clear and easy to make out, and the music does not suffer from any problems due to age thanks to that trick we refer to these days as digital remastering. I should point out that digital remastering entails going back to the original source tapes of a given recording session and mastering them again, hence the term "remastered". Obviously, this is what has happened with Hendrix's music. Audio sync was never a problem at any point, although the ghosting apparent in much of the black and white footage made it hard to tell at times.

    A fair selection of the post-Experience music written by Jimi Hendrix is present and accounted for, and is ever-present in the Band Of Gypsys feature. The post-Experience music is a much funkier, dirtier-sounding beast than Jimi's work with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, but we are essentially dealing with a later branching-out of the same style. Billy Cox and Buddy Miles are more than equal to the task of supporting Jimi Hendrix on his musical adventures, however, and credit must be given to them for this.

    Being a straight stereo mix, there really is no surround presence to speak of, although the wall of sound that comes out of the front speakers more than makes up for this. The combination of the music and the interview footage presented no problems for this DVD, reflecting the work that was done to restore and combine the two audio tracks. The subwoofer was again called on quite frequently to support the drums and bass, and its presence was felt frequently enough to make it rather inconspicuous.



    The menu contains stills of Jimi Hendrix on stage, and the main menu is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation of one of his songs, the name of which escapes me.

Featurette - Live At The Fillmore East

    Presented under the name of Concert Footage, this is a showcasing of Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox, and Buddy Miles. Sadly, it suffers from an audio dropout at 3:20. Compounding this problem is an almost complete grey-out of the background behind Jimi during this time. All sorts of background hiss can be heard during this featurette, as well as some mild distortion from time to time. This is to say nothing of the video quality, which is just plain atrocious even for its age, with hardly any detail discernible and much ghosting of movements. On a small positive note, however, the DVD's packaging does not make any false promises about the quality, promising what we get: rare archival footage. As the Footage Background option states, this is a black and white open-reel videotape recording, a format that was in its infancy at the time.

Photo Gallery

    This is comprised of poorly focused stills with no discernible details, which probably wouldn't have even been used to make up publicity shots. Why bother?

R4 vs R1

    This disc is also the same all over the world.


    Jimi Hendrix's work deserves the best possible presentation. Band Of Gypsys makes the grade, but Live At The Fillmore East certainly doesn't. It is therefore impossible to recommend this disc to anyone but the most obsessive collector, which is something I am not.

    The video quality is fine until you see the Live At The Fillmore East footage, which looks like it has been stored in the nostrils of a rotting corpse for the last twenty or thirty years.

    The same can be said of the audio quality, although the high points of the audio quality during Live At The Fillmore East are much more tolerable than the best points of the video quality.

    The extras are very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sgh.gif (874 bytes)(Band Of Gypsys)
sr.gif (100 bytes)(Live At The Fillmore East)
Audio sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)(Band Of Gypsys)
sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sgh.gif (874 bytes)(Live At The Fillmore East)
Extras srh.gif (874 bytes)
Plot sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)
Overall sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sgh.gif (874 bytes)
© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
May 23, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer