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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Jimi Hendrix

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    Are You Experienced? 8 ( 1967 )
    Foxy Lady / Manic Depression / Red House / Can You See Me / Love Or Confusion / I Don't Live Today / May This Be Love / Fire / Third Stone From The Sun / Remember / Are You Experienced

    The music of Jimi Hendrix has passed down. After his death, many guitarists incorporated Hendrix trademarks into their playing. It was a means of tribute. The effect of this however has been the fact of Hendrix's talents being taken for granted. If you arrive to his music as an 18 year old today, you won't have seen the man play live. You won't have a full appreciation of the impact Hendrix made upon the music scene. You may have read about his impact and his legend, but that's a very different thing from actually living through it. As I was saying, the music of Hendrix has been passed down. His three official albums have passed into folklore as part of Rock history and legend. Hendrix arrived in London and tore the place apart. Leading Brit guitar gods of the time, the likes of Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, were initially angry, then jealous - then realised they just had to accept their place. Jimi was the undisputed rock-blues guitar master. Now the years have passed, the mere thought of anybody ever taking that mantle away from him seems ridiculous to even contemplate. However, and there's always a however, whichever way you look at it, a legend shouldn't survive on legend alone. There should always be the music itself to consider. Which is why we are here, of course. There's no doubting the surpremely confident and often astonishingly powerful guitar playing contained on 'Are You Experienced?', for example. Although, he played more outrageously and more astonishingly during live performances. For his debut and much of the follow-up, 'Axis Bold As Love', commercial considerations held sway over the arrangement of many of the songs. Hendrix had a burning desire to break through and his manager, ex-animal Chas Chandler, was keen to strike the right balance between Hendrix's prowess and a listenable pop-rock album that contained songs that would be played on the radio.

    A note about the tracklisting for 'Are You Experienced?'. The above is the original UK tracklisting. The US release of the album followed after the UK release and the US label altered the original running order. In this age of CD, matters are confused even further. This is a big bug-bear of mine, actually. I'm a purist and would prefer to listen to albums as they were originally intended. Rating a re-issued version of an album, with many bonus tracks mixed in with the original tracks and not always listed as 'bonus' material, just isn't fair play. It also doesn't make a lot of actual sense. Am I reviewing a 1997 CD reissue or reviewing 'Are You Experienced?'. But of course, the three singles Hendrix released around the time of this album are crucial and deserve mentioning. Get that 1997 CD reissue i've mentioned and we find 'Hey Joe' bw 'Stone Free', 'Purple Haze' bw '51st Anniversary' and 'The Wind Cries Mary' bw 'Highway Chile'. 'Hey Joe' is a dog of an actual song, many underground american bands had tried covering the song and it was still a dog. Melodically thin, musically simplistic. Hendrix utterly transforms this, giving the song real meaning. The opening riff of 'Purple Haze' and in fact, the way the guitar holds you mesmerized throughout the entire song, is total classic Hendrix. 'The Wind Cries Mary' is beautiful and showed another side of Hendrix. It was the perfect choice of third single.

    'Are You Experienced?' itself opens with 'Foxy Lady', another powerful slice of Hendrix lead with ominously dark bass notes swarming underneath. Speaking of ominously dark, a lot of Hendrix music scares me a little. I'm very one on picking up the emotion that music presents to me. It's hard to fathom the emotions Hendrix was feeling whilst recording these songs, or the emotions he intended to present to the listener. I think I can just go back to the words 'ominous' and 'dark'. Scary. The music of Hendrix is something of a trip therefore, and that's as true of 'Are You Experienced?' as it is of either of the follow-up albums. 'Manic Depression' displays very well the sense of dark and fear, of alienation - that I receive when listening to certain Hendrix material. 'Red House' is a welcome straight blues. The album continues alternating, different inflextions, different sides of Hendrix's talents. It's an album seemingly designed as a showcase for his talents as both a composer and a performer. Many debut albums are designed in this manner, of course. Some tracks here seem more performance than composition, 'Love Or Confusion' and 'Can You See Me', for example. Other songs, such as 'I Don't Live Today' and 'Fire' strike a better balance. Stunning performances, not only from Hendrix but from his supporting musicians too. Striking material, good lyrics, etc. The instrumental 'Third Stone From The Sun' is wonderful, a piece with a lighter guitar tone and a jazzier feel to the ensemble playing. The closing title track is a suitable closer, in line with the dominant feel of the album. A feel of being sent someplace else, of darkness and power.

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    Readers Comments

    BRIAN GREGORY badger@gregory1972.fsnet.co.uk
    8? 8?????????!!!!!!!! How can you give this an 8? It completely changed things,blew everyone out of the water-a completely revolutionary record-10/10 (at least)

    nazar nazariusrudius@yahoo.com
    Actually, I think that the bonus tracks like Love or Confusion and I Don't Live Today are just as good or better than the standard classics on this album. Also, 50th Anniversary is a really cool song-it's fast, fun and it has a good solo to boot. This albums deserves a 9, a 9.5 on a good day.

    Randy junkdrum@aol.com
    I agree with Brian. This album as it was originally released is a solid 10. I purchased the US version when it first came out. It was and remains simply the finest aural representation of psychedelia and sexuality ever put to wax. The cd version I own screwed up the order by not putting the inferior bonus tracks at the end where they belong. Only Red House and Stone Free would have been good enough to be included with the other songs on this album. 51st anniversary is about the worst tune in his entire catalog. If you own this cd, do yourself a favor and burn your own personal version. Just leave out Highway Chile, Remember, Can You See Me and 51st Anniversary and you'll see what I mean.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    a definite 10/10 - a revolutionary record made on equipment that would be rejected for using as an answermachine today. Check out the drums and guitar dialogue in manic depression, the way third stone fuses jazz,blues and science fiction, the sunny otis redding tribute remember , the straight blues of red house and the title track where lsd and the delta blues finally combine in waves of feedback and backwards guitars . And this was just the 1st album . Jimis star certainly burned bright and we miss artists of his talent,courage and experimentation today .

    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    As everyone has suggested, it's pretty close to perfect. My favourite Hendrix material is from 1970 where "Cry Of Love" and "War Heroes" came from, and eventually "First Rays Of The New Rising Sun", but I would still give this album 9/10 at the very minimum.

    Lee Auty Bolton
    I dont think mr hendrix made great albums. But what he did in a few songs was so musically intelligent that no other performer could match them. And that includes all my favourite artists. Jimmy was a star that burned so brightly for a brief time

    tommers israel
    Jimi's music is still, even to today, THE STATE OF THE ART, as far as Rock music. I can't think of any Rocknroll band/artist outdoing what Jimi did, they can do something different, but at the game that Jimi set the rules and standards, there is no equal. Each of his songs has tremendous dozens of riffs, all groundbreaking and inventive, the dream of many guitarists would be just to invent one of those, sometimes even just to be able to play it like Jimi.I'll start with the 6 masterpieces:His musical sense is still ahead of the time, even today, the rhythmic lilt and feel of his music is timeless, and his inventiveness like Third Stone From The Sun(1) makes the others looks like wannabes. There is nothing else done in this field besides Jimi.Red House(2) has become a classic Blues song covered by many Blues artists, something not too many artists from the Rock achieved that a Blues song of them gets to be a classic. Are You Experienced?(3), Foxy Lady(4), a! re as good as Rock music ever got to be. Fire(5) is a fine song one should listen with care. Manic Depression(6) is no less than a Rock anthem. The 5 other songs shows the personal side of Jimi: Can You See Me / Love Or Confusion / I Don't Live Today / May This Be Love/Remember, somewhat weaker than the other songs, but even these 5 songs alone can be compiled into a solid and strong album, something like 8 out of 10 for sure. Adding the 6 masterpieces you get an album of no less that 9.5/10, more likely 10/10 I mean it doesn't get any better.


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    Axis Bold As Love 8 ( 1968 )
    EXP / Up From The Skies / Spanish Magic Castle / Wait Until Tomorrow / Ain't No Telling / Little Wing / If 6 Was 9 / You Got Me Floatin' / Castles Made Of Sand / She's So Fine / One Rainy Wish / Little Miss Lover / Bold As Love

    By all accounts, Jimi was a ridiculously nice and humble guy. If he felt any insecurities surrounding the reception to his music circa 'Are You Experienced', some of those had obviously gone by the time of this release. The songs are more tightly composed and structured, without losing any of Hendrix's gift for sending his playing and his band-mates playing into another dimension. He was always looking to push forwards. Ignoring his three classic first singles, because they weren't actually ON 'Are You Experienced?', remember? Ignoring those, 'Axis Bold As Love' is the better album. It seems to have more of a sense of purpose and the production seems better too. The songs are wonderfully performed and arranged. I spoke of fear and hinted at being scared at the emotions 'Are You Experienced?' presents to the listener. That same feeling isn't present here, there's more of a sense of happiness within the life of Jimi Hendrix. It comes through in the music. 'Axis Bold As Love' is an album you can also listen to and appreciate without even having to consider the weight of Hendrix as guitar genius and almost expect every single song to have some mind-blowing guitar playing in it somewhere. We'll take 'Up From The Skies', for example. It's just a nice little groovy soulful shuffle. No sign of 'guitar god' in sight, just signs of a fine enjoyable song. The material itself should always come first and foremost above and beyond any 'performance'. Hendrix received critiscm during his life-time for his 'clown' antics on stage, that they detracted from his music. He took those critiscms badly. All signs are that, had he lived, he would have performed straighter. He still was looking to expand into new directions, he was always looking to expand. But, had he lived, don't expect that he'd still be doing the biting of his guitar strings, or the burning of his guitar, or his waggling tongue, provocative stage antics. He'd just be playing. Music was his life.

    'If 6 Was 9' seems to have come out of a jam, out of fooling around. It's a pretty wonderful piece, though, very powerful, very good guitar of course. 'Castles Made Of Sand' makes good use of a funky sounding rhythm section to power it along, rather than lead guitar showboating. It's a fine song. 'Spanish Castle Magic' is the sound of The Jimi Hendrix Experience in full effect, crunching guitar, intriguing lyrics, very fine drumming indeed. 'Little Wing' is very nice and one of my absolute favourite Hendrix performances. He gets a lot of soul out of his guitar here. It's a piece with genuine feeling. Elsewhere, rounding out the album, the likes of 'Aint No Telling' and 'You Got Me Floatin' seem to be genuine album tracks, if that makes any sense to you. They add to the whole. You couldn't have released either song as a single, but they add to the whole that is 'Axis Bold As Love'. They serve a purpose. Sometimes, every song on an album serving a purpose is important. It's important to edit yourself. Well, the opening 'EXP' apart, which comes across as a very Sixties humour thing. Everything else here contributes towards an extremely listenable album that displays a variety of moods and emotions and is surpremely rounded as a result.

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    Readers Comments

    Randy junkdrum@aol.com
    Again, I think you're rating Jimi a little low. I'd give this one a 9.5. It's much better edited than Electric Ladyland and a little cleaner and funkier than Are You Experienced? This album just activates my pleasure centers. You're right about Jimi toning down his antics. I saw him perform at the Santa Clara Rock Festival in '69 with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell. He never sounded better and he didn't need to resort to cheap theatrics to keep the crowd in the palm of his hand.

    Mike Harrison cathairball5000@yahoo.com
    No less than a 9.5, and in my extremely humble opinion it's the best original Hendrix album. I think I'd give it a slight edge over RUX because the lyrics and vocals are more playful than the debut, tho' the guitar "heroics" are pushed slightly toward the background. That said, I think he was a more confident musician on AXIS. I've read that the work on AXIS started not too long after the release of RUX....Hendrix was on an unbelievable creative roll, and it all happened within a short year.

    KeenLy1@aol.com KeenLy1@aol.com
    nice and humble? sorry but i had to say ;WRONG! Read one of the many books about him and read 'room full of mirrors; i i've just read it all; very shocking. Half of it talks about his childhood and parents. It doesn't focus on the bad of georgei alot but mentions some horrific things; georgei beat the mother of his first suspected child with a belt while she was pregnant! Jimi twice smashed a vodka bottle in his girlfriend carmen's face; she had to go to emergency room on both occasions. The first time the docs thought she was gonna lose her eye! He beat kathy with a phone becuase he thought she was ringing a guy!

    gazza, garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Its very much "are you experienced " part 2 but god its a great album . Everyone goes on about the guitar playing and rightly so but georgei was a very underated singer and a songwriter of great vision . track for track the 1st albums better but this one has many classic moments . Just consider both albums were produced in less than a year in which georgei was touring constantly . Music was less about marketing in those days but theres no denying something very special happened from 65 to 69 and georgei was a huge part of that, Amazingly his influence is remarkably slight on todays music compared to the beatles and stones , perhaps because georgei was clearly such an original voice. Who knows what might have been achieved if hed lived ? Apparently a collaboration with miles davis was on the cards !! There must be some jam sessions going on in heaven ....

    PeterLC Rotterdam
    Again - an 8?!? I've played the album only days ago (owned and played it for about seven years) and really, it's the only faultless Hendrix album and should be rated as such. 10 all the way!

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    Electric Ladyland 7 ( 1969 )
    And The Gods Made Love / Have You Ever Been To... / Crosstown Traffic / Voodoo Child / Little Miss Strange / Long Hot Summer Night / Come On / Gypsy Eyes / Burning Of The Midnight Lamp / Rainy Day, Dream Away / 1983 / Moon, Turn The Tides / Still Raining, Still Dreaming / House Burning Down / All Along The Watchtower / Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

    Well, Hendrix sounds stoned throughout a good half of the album. Throughout a good half of this album, he was terribly self-indulgent. 'Electric Ladyland' was the first Hendrix album self-produced, and it shows. He continues his sonic adventures, and reaches terrifying peaks in places. Elsewhere, songs simply lack purpose, included seemingly for Hendrix's own enjoyment and little more. We're back to trippy territory after the tightly focused 'Axis Bold As Love'. 'Rainy Day, Dream Away' is a piece of blues jamming, nothing more. Hendrix needn't have even been present in the studio, it's just basic fooling in the studio around a blues feel. 'Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)' has a fine vocal, somewhat spoilt by the production tricks and vocal phasing effects of the day. It sounds very draggy, very druggy and dated as a result. The production tricks continue for the otherwise storming likes of 'House Burning Down'. 'House Burning Down' is a piece of Jimi Hendrix Experience magic, one of the last such pieces as the band were in the process of distintegrating at the time. We'll focus on a few positive things. The closing two songs are both stellar and absolutely fantastic. 'Voodoo Child (Slight Return) is very heavy and dark, without the darkness overwhelming it. Jimi's playing here is just out of the world, really reaching upwards. The Dylan cover, 'All Along The Watchtower' re-enforces how good an interpreter of material Hendrix was. Following his transformation of 'Hey Joe', he takes this quiet folky Dylan tune and produces a definitive version of it. So much so, Dylan himself subsequently adopted Hendrix's arrangement during live performance.

    We've a couple of real extended workouts on this double-album. 'Voodoo Child' lasts for nearly fifteen minutes and covers a lot of ground during those fifteen minutes. This is pure, unadulterated Hendrix, un-edited Hendrix. He sounds a lot closer to his blues roots, whilst still trying to reach a state of musical nirvana. The other extended piece here is '1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)'. It's something that includes many very worthy moments and just about survives its own bloated length, but it needed editing. Jimi was getting self-indulgent, there's no doubt about it. Without any clear idea of how to move his music in a new direction, he pushed his old direction far beyond where it should have been pushed. 'Electric Ladyland', whilst sounding disappointingly druggy when listened to these days, at the time must have come across as a tremendously visionary record. The sixties were dying, and the sense of foreboding 'Electric Ladyland' displays, its sense of 'coming down' would have matched the way many of his fans were actually feeling at the time. That doesn't make this collection of half-formed loose jams, deep avant-garde experimentation, etc, etc - a particularly satisfying listen decades later, however. Still, credit where credit is due. The last two songs are as fine as anything Hendrix ever did. The other incredible highlight here is 'Crosstown Traffic', Hendrix trying to make his guitar sound like three guitars and a horn section as well, for good measure. That he actually manages to achieve that just shows how immense his talent for the guitar really was.

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    Readers Comments

    BRIAN GREGORY badger@gregory1972.fsnet.co.uk
    7??? What's going on on this page Adrian? have you gone deaf? this album is a masterpiece. If Hendrix gets a 7 for this-what does every other guitar player since get? So many highlights,"Burning of the midnight lamp" is beautiful and Voodoo Chile(Slight Return) blows every other guitarist before or since away. Hendrix's stuff is pure musical expressionism-no wanking off for the sake of it, like Steve Vai,Eddie Van Halen and all those wankers who run guitar shops.This album contains real genius and it's influence cannot be underestimated. 11/10

    bassplayeredd eddie123zeppelin@hotmail.com
    I'm glad your doing his albums but how can you not give every hendrix album 10, especially this one. This is one of the best albums of all time.

    Anne Marie Pemberton apembert@hq.nasa.gov
    The world of music is still trying to recover from Jimi's passing, but for many of us he's still here through his "sometimes words can't explain" out of this dimension music. Voodoo Child and 1983 became almost mantras for me after hearing them the first time. Jimi is withjout a doubt without peers in this world.

    Tom McAllister tommiedacommie@talk21.com
    you are clearly one of the more traditionalist hendrix fans which is fair enough considering the style of blues/rock/r+b/funk of the first two albums boasts more talent and originality than anyone else i can think of, but when it comes to your criticisms of georgei's experimentation, whether it during composition, improvisation or production, please try to appreciate that this man lived ahead of his own time and as this album clearly displays, was taking his music in a completely different direction to pretty much anything that came before. also realise that many of the studio techniques employed on this album were still very new ideas in 1969 and although this may not have been how rock 'n' roll was traditionally made before, it still requires time, effort and inspiration to create a sound like this. from the point of veiw of a music technologist, composer and guitarist, the least i can say is that this album was revolutionary. 20/10 for exceeding previous limits.

    Cala bebban12@aol.com
    Voodoo Chile(Slight Return) is, without a doubt, the most amazing Jimi Hendrix song ever. I am a huge Hendrix fan, so of course I like the rest of the album, but in terms of what Hendrix can do, I think the rest of the songs are mediocre (if compared with songs from his other albums). I don't think Electric Ladyland should get a ten like the first two albums, but it should at LEAST get an eight.

    Stuart O\'Neill stuart.oneill6@btinternet.com
    7?? Are you kidding? This is one of the greatest albums I've ever come accross. Granted it took a few listens to get into but the songs get under your skin and stay there. As well as highlights you singled out, I'd include 'Burning of the Midnight Lamp'. This song is awesome, such a majestic riff, great sounding vocals, gospel-tinged backing vocals....just brilliant. Why don't they play this song on the radio? 'Come on' is blues on steriods, with an amazing wah-wah'ed guitar solo. I completely disagree with your comments on 'Rainy Day' and '1983'. 'Rainy day' and it's companion peice 'Still Raining' have a jazzy feel - you can just imagine a smokey club late at night with musicians jamming on stage. Cool rhythms in these songs as well. '1983' is, for me, the highlight of the album. It's like Hendrix playing Wish You Were Here era Floyd but better. The melodies are fantastic, the vocals awesome. I run out of superlatives to describe this song. The long mellow bit in the middl! e has cool flute, drum and bass solos and then Jimi's guitar fires back in and builds to a massive crescendo, and your jaw drops in amazement. I can listen to this album all day and love every minute of it. Apart from maybe the Beatles, Hendrix was the musician pushing the boundries of where rock music could go the furthest at this time. What a great loss to music and the world his death was. I'd give this album a 9, maybe 9.5, not 10 as 'Little Miss Strange' isn't great, but as Hendrix didn't write it it doesn't matter.

    nazar nazariusrudius@yahoo.com
    Let me just start out by saying All Along The Watchtower is my favorite song by Jimi. That solo would send chills up and down my spine whenever I heard it. Unfortunately, this album has too many generic blues songs that are listenable, but they pale beside material like Voodoo Child and Have You Ever Been To Electric Ladyland. Voodoo Chile is a boring instrumental that should either have been edited to like 3 minutes or completely cut. I really like 1983 A Merman Should I Turn To Be... at least the first four minutes of it.

    Randy junkdrum@aol.com
    Druggy? You got a problem with that? If you don't like druggy music, Hendrix is not for you. There may be some filler, (Come On part 1, Little Miss Strange, Long Hot Summer Night) but this album is one for the ages. I think the young generation is really missing something. Too much anti-drug propaganda has blinded y'all.

    WillieNillieDiXxon B.c.philosopher@hotmail.com
    RANDY, you mistakenly labelled-fillers- the 3 coolest songs... mate, go back over yonda, wayyyyyy back across the yonda, over the hill;

    gazza gary.hess44@hotmail.com
    adrian . its fun to share opinions and tastes but your way out of line here . this is a 10/10 - it would have got that for 1983 alone - in the rush to canonise the beatles , stones etc georgeis records are forgotten a bit , something that is unforgivable , and dont get me started about clapton , someone not fit to be mentioned in the same breath as georgei .

    Mike Harrison cathairball5000@yahoo.com
    I'm glad Adrian made a point about the self-indulgent moments of this album, because that isn't often discussed given the magnitude of Hendrix's greatness. I don' tthink LADYLAND is as efficient as RUX or AXIS, which, unfortunately, is what can happen when the artist takes charge of the production. The long long songs (not to mention those without Mitchell and Redding) just don't work at all.....the fire is a more like dull crackle. Songs like "Rainy Day" sound like they're half-formed ideas. I think the album would have been better as a single LP release. Still, Hendrix is a guy I could never really fault for anything, even for his less successful efforts. No one sounded like Hendrix when Hendrix was around. And the high points of LADYLAND are high, for sure....."Crosstown Traffic" is as exciting as anything from RUX or AXIS, "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" is pretty damn scary, and "Voodoo Child" (or is it "Voodoo Chile?" I always mix up the two! Whatever that last! track is!) is a great way to end a Hendrix album.....a good blues-based tune with some great funk elements that predicted his 1969-70 work. It's one of the greatest aural achievements of the late 1960s despite the occasional self-indulgent lapses....a solid 8.

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    this page last updated 13/09/10



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