In 1966 Jimi Hendrix was brought over to England under the management of ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler. Within months he had changed the landscape of rock music forever and the role of the electric guitar within it.
With Jimi Hendrix anything was possible and over the following two years he had hit singles and two hit albums as well as performing and starring at all the major festivals of the time, including Monterey, the Isle of Wight and Woodstock. Gobal domination had occurred with Jimi Hendrix and his Experience sweeping all before them and rising to be the highest paid band in the world.
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In 1968 Hendrix released the double album “Electric Ladyland” on which he not only performed all the lead guitar work and vocals, but also produced the record. Along the way, in the party atmosphere of the studio, various artists came in and contributed to the music including members, of Traffic, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane and the elite of New York’s session players. Hendrix also adapted or wrote all the songs on the album apart from the rather ill advised contribution of “Little Miss Strange” from Noel Redding.
“Electric Ladyland” charted at number one in the American Billboard charts as well as going double platinum. It also had a massive hit single in his definitive and searing version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” (Dylan stills plays the Hendrix arrangement in his live set today). The double LP was a psychedelic epic with many of the songs jammed out in the studio. In 1968 if you did not dig “Electric Ladyland” you were labeled hopelessly ‘square’.
The album starts out with two spacey soundscapes before Hendrix shows off his Rock’n’Roll hand by driving into “Crosstown Traffic”. Next up is the album’s central track, a fifteen minute jam of “Voodoo Chile” and whilst Hendrix’s amazing guitar licks are certainly the central theme running through the glorious sounds, Steve Winwood’s Hammond organ gives the master a fair run for his money. At the end of this you can hear the musicians spontaneously applaud and congratulate each other, a moment of pure joy.
Noel Redding’s contribution is easy to skip over but from here on there is plenty to marvel at as Hendrix’s guitar playing and arrangements leave you gasping at the audacity of it all. The ethereal “And The Gods Made Love”, “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” and “Moon Turn The Tides….. Gently Gently Away” can only hint at the unfathomable profundity of Hendrix’s musical imagination. The revolutionary adaption of stereo, echo and overdub techniques enhances his sky church visions. It is also notable that Hendrix’s vocals have improved almost beyond recognition from his earlier material, giving extra texture to the music.
What a tragedy it was then that this was to be Hendrix’s last studio album released in his lifetime, as by November 1970 he was taken from us at the age of 27. Of course, whilst alive he was extremely prolific and recorded almost everything he put down, so there have been hundreds of albums released under the Jimi Hendrix banner since 1970, but nothing matches the splendor of “Electric Ladyland”.
After his death, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” was released as a single and topped the charts all over the world, becoming his biggest ever selling single and probably his most covered song by other artists on the live stage.
Put on “Electric Ladyland” and let your ears ring to the dazzling Jimmy Hendrix Experience.
Rating: 5 Stars.
And The Gods Made Love
Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
little Miss Strange
Long Hot Summer
Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)
Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
Rainy Day Dream Away
1983 ( A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
Moon Turn The Tides… Gently Gently Away
Still Raining, Still Dreaming
House Burning Down
All Along The Watchtower
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience:
Jimi Hendrix – guitar and vocals
Noel Redding – bass guitar
Mitch Mitchel – drums