“Following the breakup of the Experience, Hendrix took a sabbatical in Woodstock, New York, hooked up with bassist Billy Cox, his old Air Force running mate, and began jamming with a wide variety of musicians, including R&B drummer Buddy Miles. Hendrix had become self-conscious about his image as a showman and rocker, and about the limitations of thrashing through the same repertoire night after night.” (CdUniverse.com). His new trio, known as Band of Gypsys, “was an attempt by Hendrix to redefine himself, and in a way heralded his return to the ethos of the blues and R&B” (CdUniverse.com).
“During their brief tenure as a band, Band Of Gypsys” (CdUniverse.com) “played four shows at the Fillmore East that closed out one decade and welcomed in another” (CdUniverse.com). Hendrix and Co. mixed newer songs alongside “material he'd done with the Experience (Stone Free, Wild Thing)” (CdUniverse.com). The “crisp reading of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) starts out in a straightforward enough manner before Hendrix begins destroying worlds with a high-flying style that dances around the edges of self-indulgence into a place of pure genius” (CdUniverse.com).
“Newer songs such as Earth Blues and Who Knows ooze with synergy, particularly between Cox and Hendrix” (CdUniverse.com). “Message of Love and Power of Soul demonstrate [Hendrix’s] remarkable ability to provide a simultaneous rhythm accompaniment and melodic counterpoint to his vocals, in the blues tradition of Robert Johnson” (CdUniverse.com). Machine Gun is “a gut-wrenching masterpiece that Hendrix never had a chance to perfect in the studio” (Alroy). It features a “long, intensely emotional improvisation” (CdUniverse.com) complete with “the screeches of bombs and gunfire” (CdUniverse.com).
“Unlike his tenure with the Experience, Hendrix shares the spotlight with his new trio, with Buddy Miles performing a mini-set of We Gotta Live Together, Changes, and a cover of Howard Tate's Stop” (CdUniverse.com). Miles “lasted only a few months thanks to” (Alroy) “second-rate R&B entertainer's vapid showmanship” (Alroy) and “having none of Mitch Mitchell's startling technical proficiency” (Alroy).
Mixed opinions of Miles lead to one stance that this recording “is mired in a derivative, monotonous soul/R & B style that is totally uncharacteristic of Hendrix's other work” (Alroy) and another opinion that this “was markedly different from Hendrix's work with Experience, but rivals it in terms of scope, vision, and beauty” (CdUniverse.com).
The original Band of Gypsys was “released to meet contractual obligations” (Alroy). “In 1999, the Hendrix family released two discs worth of selections from the same concerts (apparently leaving off some of the original takes) and retitled the collection Live at Fillmore East” (Alroy).