Friday, November 27, 2015
Rainbow Bridge (1970)
Perhaps the most political statement Jimi Hendrix made during his career. According to author Harry Shapiro, "the idea was to shoot an antidote to Easy Rider showing the positive side of the youth movement" In this sense the film begins with a shooting, as Easy Rider ended with one. The loosely documentary-style film is centered on the experiences of a New York model, who travels from San Diego, California, to an occult center on the island of Maui, Hawaii. While there, "she encounters various devotees of surfing, clairvoyance, zen, yoga, meditation, Tai-Chi and the odd ufoloist". As it unfolds, a free concert by Jimi Hendrix is staged in a former pasture in the upcountry region (2,000 feet above sea level) near Olinda, southeast of the center of the town of Makawao, on the northwest, upcountry slope of Haleakalā. A few hundred island hippies, surfers, and local residents show up to witness the event. Hendrix performed with the post-Jimi Hendrix Experience "Cry of Love" tour group, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox. A group of Hare Krishnas chanted "Om" for a few minutes and Wein introduced the group. Although Hendrix played two full sets (approximately 50 minutes each), due to technical problems, only about 17 minutes of film footage was deemed usable.
A soundtrack album, also titled Rainbow Bridge, was released in October 1971. Although it contains some incidental studio recordings by Hendrix used in the film, the album does not include any of the recorded performances from the Maui concert. Hendrix's performances are edited for the film. Complete recordings of both sets (about 20 songs) have been released on several bootleg albums, sometimes being mistaken for official releases.
Song performances included in the film (all from the first set, except where indicated):
"Hey Baby"/"In from the Storm" (the complete recording appears on The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set)
"Foxy Lady" (included on Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection)
"Hear My Train A Comin'" – first part
"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
"Star Spangled Banner"
"Hear My Train A Comin'" – second part
"Hey Baby" (second set) – intro only
"Ezy Ryder" (second set) – audio only
Studio recordings by Hendrix used as incidental music for the film include (all on the 1971 Rainbow Bridge album, except where indicated):
"Bleeding Heart" (1972 War Heroes and 1997 South Saturn Delta)
"Look Over Yonder"
"Star Spangled Banner"
"Room Full of Mirrors"
"Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)"
The version of "Hear My Train A Comin'" that appears on the album was taken from the first show on May 30, 1970, at the Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, California. In 2014, the original Rainbow Bridge album was reissued in both CD and LP formats.