By Ira Robbins
Updated March 13, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Stages '67-'70

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With the deluge of posthumous Jimi Hendrix music released over the last two decades, each new album dredged up seems like another attempt to squeeze profit from the guitarist’s gravestone. Stages ’67-’70, however, is the most exciting Hendrix project in years, a key to understanding the arc of his brilliant career. A boxed collection of four seemingly complete concerts, one for each year from 1967 to 1970, Stages tracks Hendrix’s burgeoning power, artistry, volume, and spaciness — from a tentative, unembellished presentation in a radio studio to a showcase of majestic hippie mysticism before a crowd of 400,000 near Atlanta. Differing performances of certain songs (there are four versions of ”Fire” and ”Purple Haze,” three of ”Foxy Lady”) reveal Hendrix’s burning desire to shed his past: Dismantling his music with improvisations that begin to embrace jazz, Hendrix turns old standbys into vehicles for his futuristic vision. Stages preserves the glitches that most live albums remove — from uneven sound quality to meandering stage patter — to create a warts-and-all document that teaches as much as it entertains; it illuminates rather than merely celebrates the genius of Jimi Hendrix. A-

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Stages '67-'70

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