Or, more accurately, It’s Father’s Day: Have a(nother) Jimi Hendrix Best-Of.
Mike Diver 2010
A 20-track set that’d be more accurately titled It’s Father’s Day: Have a(nother) Jimi Hendrix Best-Of, Fire is the kind of cash-in release that adds nothing to the legacy of the artist in question, but nevertheless comprises a succinct introduction to a singular, inimitable talent for anyone who, incredulously, owns none of this material already.
With no shortage of similarly pitched compilations available and posthumous discs aplenty filling store shelves, the long-term Hendrix fan isn’t going to need Fire in their life. But should they (assuming “they” is male) be given this on Father’s Day, it’s sure to find its place – most likely in the car, where a short-but-sweet serving of this maverick talent caught (mostly) in his prime will colour otherwise dreary commutes. Collectors hoping for any insightful liner notes will be disappointed, as basic credits aside this package presents no information on the songs – although it does indicate from what long-player each selection is taken, which may be of interest to absolute beginners. Although if it’s a shortcut you’re after: you can’t go wrong with any of the three studio records released before the artist’s death in 1970.
The quality of its material dictates that Fire is not a bad release, per se – but it is entirely needless. And there’s no Star-Spangled Banner here, an unbelievable omission given how Hendrix’s improvised performance of the US national anthem at Woodstock signalled the end of the 1960s in a style that’s been burned into the memories of all who witnessed it ever since. It was a pivotal moment in the man’s career, and its absence is startling. That recording does feature on the older Experience Hendrix best-of, which for this writer’s money is the best of its breed. Additionally, the inclusion here of four tracks from the recently released Valleys of Neptune album, compiled from his final studio recordings, represents poor value for money for anyone whose Hendrix journey began with said release.
But ultimately Fire is what it is – a cheaply put together, cynically timed compilation that doesn’t pretend to be a significant release in the continuing history of one of the greatest guitarists the pop world has ever seen. Should it come your way via your beloved offspring later this month, you won’t be let down by its contents – but you certainly would not have gone looking for them of your own volition.