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As emblematic of its time as of its sorcerer-like creator, 1967's Are You Experienced? unleashed Jimi Hendrix onto a world in the midst of such cultural and musical shake-ups that it really didn't seem as "far out" as it actually was. It wasn't just Hendrix's virtuosic skill as a pure player that was so impressive; it was, even more, the range and scope of sheer sound that he coaxed, cajoled and ripped out of his instrument. "Purple Haze", "Manic Depression" and "I Don't Live Today" filled ears with indelible sonic images and songs like "Foxey Lady" and "Fire" pointed the way toward a new brand of rock-charged soul music. And how about a hand for drummer Mitch Mitchell? --Billy Altman
Axis: Bold As Love, Hendrix's second album, doesn't resonate through rock history the way its gate crashing predecessor, Are You Experienced? did. In places, it almost seems as if Hendrix is cruising, albeit sublimely. Yet it's nonetheless a vital album, containing some of rock's most molten milestones. There's the fluid psychedelia of "Castles in The Sand", the viciously funky "Little Miss Lover" and the so-beautiful-it-hurts "Little Wing." Hendrix really hits altitude with "If 6 Was 9", where he waves his "freak flag high" over a tidal wave of guitar and a cacophonous army of Moroccan flutes--and "Bold As Love", based around Hendrix's typically far-fetched hankering for the axis of the planet to be tilted, thereby transforming life on earth. It works up into a head-melting frenzy of distorted guitar, a precursor to the staggeringly expansive leap forward he would take with 1968's Electric Ladyland. Hendrix dreamed the impossible and achieved it on his guitar. –
If it's true that songwriters have a vision in their head of what their dream album would be, Electric Ladyland was the project Jimi Hendrix hoped would be as close to perfection as possible. No longer content with the rush-recorded psychedelic pop-rock of Experienced and Axis, Ladyland was an exploration of what could be achieved with time, money and experience. Jimi's soul roots from his session days shine through for the first time with the laid-back groove of the title track and the doo-woppy "Long Hot Summer Night" showing a vocal style reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield. It's hard to pick a standout piece as the quality of the album is so high, but the four-part dream segue of "Rainy Day", "1983", "Moon Turn the Tides" and "Still Raining" is a monumental piece of early prog rock continuing the acid-soaked ideal of extraterrestrials, love, peace and war that he started earlier on with "Third Stone from the Sun". However, it's not all spectacular drawn-out blues jams and sublime soundscapes, Electric Ladyland managed to produce Jimi's only UK No. 1 single, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" plus the timeless classics "Crosstown Traffic" and "All Along the Watchtower" making it arguably the best studio album the Experience produced in their brief career together.--David Trueman
There is no shortage of Jim Hendrix Best Of’s, however Fire (released following ITV’s use of the title song to promote the 2010 World Cup), does the job better than most. It includes classics such as "Foxy Lady", "Voodoo Child" and "Little Wing" from the late legend's three official albums, as well as some excellent post-humous material ("Angel", "Bleeding Heart", "Valleys of Neptune"). If you are a newcomer to Hendrix, this compilation is solid proof that from 1967-1970, Hendrix created some of the most thrilling, influential rock recorded. And not a single note sounds dated.
*The brand new documentary, "American Landing," which traces Jimi's remarkable transformation from obscurity to his triumphant U.S. `debut' at the Monterey Festival.
*"A Second Look," a unique feature that allows viewers to switch between multiple, previously unseen camera angles to view several of Jimi's celebrated performances like never before.
*"Music, Love & Flowers: The Monterey International Pop Festival", a behind the scenes glimpse of the festival's origins, operations, and lasting impact, brought to you by legendary composer, producer and Monterey Festival co-founder Lou Adler.
As an extra special bonus, watch the earliest known film and sound recordings of The Jimi Hendrix Experience in concert from February 25, 1967 before a packed audience in Chelmsford, England. Songs featured are "Stone Free" and "Like A Rolling Stone."
As a boy growing up in Seattle, Jimi Hendrix and his guitar were inseparable. He even slept with it. And when his father objected to the young boy playing left-handed—the elder Hendrix called it the devil’s work—Jimi learned to play right-handed upside down without changing the strings. These are the kind of details one learns in Roby and Schreiber’s entertaining biography, which follows Hendrix from his troubled childhood in Seattle, his disastrous stint in the army (he refused to conform to regulations), and on to New York and London, where he died under rather mysterious circumstances. From his earliest days as a sideman in various bands, Hendrix was different, creating weird wailing sounds on his guitar, which often got him fired. They also examine his dark side; despite his typically gentle demeanor, Hendrix had a violent streak. When the black community rejected both his music and his flamboyant style of dress, Hendrix spent more time in Greenwich Village, where, inspired by the success of another iconoclast, Bob Dylan, he found acceptance. An insightful look at an iconic star. --June Sawyers
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