A complete and surprising debut album. The power trio of the Jimi Hendrix Experience comprised of Mitch Mitchell (drums), Noel Redding (bass) and Jimi Hendrix (guitar) combine catchy pop, sludge, grunge, blues, psychedelica and moving ballads all peppered with an unearthly guitar sound. A sonic assault from start to finish with none of it sounding dated. This album is miles beyond anything released that year with the exception of the Doors debut. This album sets the standard for a number genres, including heavy metal, psychedelica, and even lyrically, grunge (Manic Depression). This album is diverse with no one style prevailing-compare the catchy hard pop of “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady” with the slow “Hey Joe” or the trippy but not dated sounding “Third Stone from the Sun”. An essential album in the history of rock.
Best song- Purple Haze 2nd best- Are You Experienced. worst song- none, really 5 STARS
A more soulful version of Jimi Hendrix as he mines his R&B roots on a few cuts. This album is not as stunning as its predecessor and suffers from allowing his bandmates to pen a tune or two in mid sixties Who style. The talent of Jimi as a guitarists and arranger seeps though on every cut as he can even carry a mediocre song to something far better. Axis shows a growing talent even though the album is weaker than Are You Experienced. If “6 were 9” utilizes interesting changes and Bold as Love closes out the album in fine style.
Best song- If 6 was 9 2nd best-Little Wing worst song- EXP, + Noel redding’s contribution 4 STARS
ELECTRIC LADYLAND (1968)
A magnum leap beyond Axis and a double album too! Not a weak moment as Hendrix hits all the stops on this, possibly best double album of all time. While Cream was milking its last gasp of creativity and releasing 25 minute versions of live recordings to fill the double album Wheels of Fire.
While the Beatles were adding copious filler to the White Album, Hendrix turned out a real solid double album, which was so packed that many strong songs had to be cut! While Lennon was struggling with how to express revolution on vinyl (and being retrained from saying anything TOO controversial as they were still retaining most of their popularity by being cute and fab) and failing with Revoultion 9, Hendrix with his original “Voodoo Child” and dramatic reworking of Bob Dylans‘ All Along the Watch Tower created a musical environment of chaos and revolution with crisp recording and torrential guitar licks drenched in all kinds of studio effects. The segue of songs (two years before side two of Abbey Road) is a musical journey unlike any other and takes Hendrix out of the tight song structures which he had worked so successfully and into a free form which liberated his sound further. This album shows that Hendrix was an astute social observer (see “House Burning Down”) but not one too hung up on making such observations, a guitarist with out peer then or since, a great songwriter, a good vocalists, a master of the studio. In short, Hendrix was a one man talent show and this album highlights all of Jimi’s talents. Only the Beatles with their incomparable collective songwriting talents are a match for Hendrix.
Best song- Voodoo Child (Slight return) 2nd best-Rainy, Dream Away….Still Raining, Still Dreaming 5 STARS
BAND OF GYPSIES (1970)
Recorded on New Year’s Eve 1969 at the Filmore East this recording is great if not only for “Machine Gun”. The Buddy Miles songs are good but nothing great. Fillmore (see below) is a better selection to get a better overview of what the Band of Gypsies were up to at the turn of the 60’s.
Best song- Machine Gun 2nd best- Message of Love worst song- 4 STARS
Hendrix was a blues based guitarist but he went far beyond the genre into other genres but also added his own imprint on the blues which he called freakish electric blues. This album is more than just for the curious. It shows that Hendrix would have been the leading blues singer guitarit ahead of Albert King and Buddy Guy had he chosen to remain wedded to the blues.
Best song- Voodoo Child Blues 2nd best- Catfish Blues worst song- 4 STARS
FIRST RAYS OF THE NEW RISING SUN (1997)
Recorded in 1970,this album shows Jimi regrouping literally and packing a decent wallop. Less experimental and perhaps more accessible than Electric Ladyland, New Rising Sun is a solid Hendrix outing that probably would have been better had Hendrix lived to complete it. The Box Set also offers some insight into this period of Hendrix career.
Best song- Dolly Dagger 2nd best- Room Full of Mirrors worst song- Belly Button Window 4 STARS
SOUTH SATURN DELTA (1997)
A real treat. A mini box set of Hendrix outtakes and unreleased recordings. “Little Wing” shines on this one, so does “Sweet Angel” an early sketch of “Angel”. “Tax Free” and “Here Comes Lover Man” are good rockers but the surprise is “The Stars that Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice” is Hendrix’ You Know My Name Look up the Number-and far better. This CD is essential for any Hendrix fan past the casual listener.
Best song- Look Over Yonder 2nd best- Sweet Angel 4 Stars
BBC SESSIONS (1998)
A good collection of Hendrix in a setting not of his own creating. He does just fine live and surprises by ripping into some good jams which vary greatly from the records. The best part of this CD is when he flips the bird to Lulu who fawns over his “Hey Joe” and claims to love it. Jimi who had considered himself well past performing “Hey Joe” introduces the song to a wall of feed back and noise, then breaks into the song for a brief moment and declares ENOUGH OF THIS RUBBISH and proceeds to dedicate the next few bars (the limited ones that the BBC will allow!) to the recently broken up Cream and launches “Sunshine of Your Love”. A great Hendrix moment not quite up there with playing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock or buring his guitar at Monterey but…
Best song- Voodoo Child 2nd best- Hear My Train a Comin worst song- 4 STARS
JIMI HENDRIX BOX SET (2000)
The standard for all box sets. Its not a greatest hits package or an odds and sods but rather an alternative retrospective of a great artist, one which add insight to the Hendrix fan yet can act as a primer to the uninitiated.
Best song- Hey Joe 2nd best- any other alternate version of a released song worst song-none than I can think of 5 STARS
COMPLETE WOODSTOCK CONCERT (1994)
A tired Hendrix took the stage at Woodstock early on the Monday morning following the historic mud soaked weekend festival that was attended by 500,000 in upstate New York in July 1969. The Hendrix appearance at Woodstock is more the stuff of legends than great music. When Hendrix plays the guitar its always worth listening but of his live material this is not Hendrix’s strongest stuff.
Best song- Star Spangled Banner 2nd best- Voodoo Child worst song- 3 STARS
LIVE AT THE FILMORE EAST (1999)
An expanded version of Band of Gypsies. Perhaps a better listen as it’s more Hendrix orientated as it includes “Voodoo Child”, “Izabella”, “Hear My Tain A Comin'” and “Wild Thing”. It also has two versions of “Machine Gun”. “Voodoo Child” is the song that Hendrix always trotted out, like Eric Clapton’s “Have You Ever Loved a Woman”. In this regard Hendrix couldn’t have played “Voodoo Child” enough while Clapton has probably played “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” a few hundred times too many and released it on an album 8 times too many.
Live at the Fillmore shows a more soulful Hendrix with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles joining in. Miles singing is good and allows Hendrix to concentrate on his guitar playing (which never seemed to suffer from his having to handle singing duties also).
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