The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced: Round 24 – Graham’s Choice

It is pretty hard to ignore Jimi Hendrix, but I managed it until 1982. I then came across a quirky American independent film called Purple Haze.

The film focussed on American teenagers in the late 60’s,Vietnam and the soundtrack of the period. The film subsequently almost disappeared from trace as a result of disputes about permissions/royalties related to the soundtrack, but I now knew about Jimi.

I have always had the inevitable greatest hits albums, which was an easy way to get hold of the recognised hits. Only recently did I decide to buy this remastered debut album and give it a go.

Remembering it is 1967 and his first album, it is simply astonishing.

It’s easy to get hung up on the unfortunate guitar histrionics side of the Hendrix legacy, but listening to this showcases the breadth of his creativity. Yes the riffs and the ‘rocking out’, are there, but so are the blues, the psychedelia, jazz and experimentation with the instrument itself. The freedom and energy of doing something new, simply jumps out of this album.

The rhythm section of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding keep the sound structured but also find moments to show off a little themselves. The bonus tracks of the remastered album give you the additional hits like ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’, all rushed on to the laterUSrelease of the album.

Strange that Hendrix broke through first in theUK, but listening to this debut again, it was inevitably  only a matter of time until the US caught on.

Rob listened: We are now farther away in time from the release of ‘Are You Experienced?’ than the date of its release was from the beginning of the Great Depression. I used to have a friend called Clive Glew who looked after Hendrix duties in our house (Clive – if you’re out there get in touch!). I don’t have anything else to say that Bill Hicks doesn’t cover here:

[youtube:http://youtu.be/NXjNMbgXvzg%5D

Tom Listened: I don’t like Bill Hicks and I don’t like Jimi Hendrix.  I guess these two dislikes may be connected. I did like the long, mainly instrumental track (Third Stone From The Sun I think) at the end of the album and I was pleased Graham gave me the chance to have a proper good listen to Hendrix again (I was convinced that this would be the time it finally all clicked into place) , I just don’t find guitar pyromaniacs played over solid, if somewhat unimaginative, bass and drums to be all that interesting. Kind of my equivalent to Graham’s feelings about Sonic Youth!

Nick listened: He just played guitar better than anyone else. It’s really that simple. As discussed on the night, there may have been people since who could technically play more notes faster or do my dexterously difficult things, but they (Yngwie Malmsteen?) are not as famous as Jimi Hendrix for good reason; they play crap.

Notably in our house, Hendrix is the only of the late 60s / early 70s canonical guitar heroes that Emma can stand; Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are both banned, and neither of us have ever even investigated Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. But Em and I both really like Hendrix, pretty much everything from all three studio albums. (For my money, Axis might be the best “cohesive unit”, but this and Ladyland have probably his mightiest peaks).

I think what’s so special about Hendrix is his rhythm play, and the sense of fun and exuberance and sensuality that comes through that. Sure, he can riff and solo and show-off with the very best, but when he just plays a tune, explores it, adds that funky (for want of a better word) edge to it, he transcends all the onanistic fretboard-tapping show-offs in the world. Which is why I think Tom’s wrong here; it’s really not about the pyrotechnics, it’s about the fun and the imagination! (I also think Mitchell and Redding are a tight, exciting, perfect rhythmic partnership for Hendrix.)

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4 thoughts on “The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced: Round 24 – Graham’s Choice”

      1. I’m very, very well thanks. And you? You in the South now? I’ve still got masses of Hendrix. My favourite is an LP called ‘Nine to the Universe’. Been getting into The Fall quite a lot too you’ll be pleased to know. It must have seeped into my brain in Leeds! Thought I’d try googling myself yesterday (which I haven’t done for years) and hey presto. I did try looking for you on Facebook a while ago but there’s quite a few Rob Mitchells!

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