I’m not sure which is most impressive, the collection of previously unreleased Hendrix material that Experience Hendrix has been putting out the past few years, or the photos that are in the liner notes accompanying the fantastic and revelatory sounds. Either way, this latest album is a true keeper, as it includes 13 songs from 1968-70, of which 10 have never seen the light of day before. Trust me, this stuff is smoking hot!
The fascinating aspect of this album is that it shows all sides and colors of Hendrix’s musical prism; rootsy blues with Hendrix’s signature psychedelia mix with jazzy jams and even a dash of mellow folk. Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys with Billy Cox/b and Buddy Miles/dr are captured on their initial studio recording, a searing take of Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” that is the perfect mix of Chicago Blues and Haight Ashbury. You can feel the Delta swamp in Hendrix’s strings as he’s caught with his original Experience team of Mitch Mitchell/dr and Noel Redding/b on “Hear My Train A Comin’”, while Stephen Stills (!) sits in for some vocal work on a jazzy “$20 Fine” and CSNY-styled “Woodstock.”
The band sounds like it’s playing on the Chitlin’ Circuit when Johnny Winter adds his sliding ax to “Things I Used to Do” while a late night juke joint atmosphere takes place with saxist Lonnie Youngblood on “Georgia Blues.”
As far as Hendrix himself, there are some fascinating illuminations here. Teamed only with Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix lays out some gorgeous licks on an ethereal “Sweet Angel,” does some flamenco work on an exotic “Send My Heart to Linda” and mixes sitar with his Fender to Mitchell’s tribal drums on a fascinatingly spacey “Cherokee Mist.”
This album is a must-have for anyone who’s ever picked up a guitar, as well as fans that wonder how the guitar grew up the past generation. Are you experienced?