March 27, 2010

The Jimi Hendrix Experience-Are You Experienced

How many debut albums had such an impact as Are You Experienced? Long after the release of this cornerstone for psychedelic rock came onto the scene it still has the ability to get inside your head and turn you inside out. This music has the power to mesmerize and tantalize the senses with unbelievable guitar lines and an eclectic group of tracks covering everything from rock, psych, blues, pop, soul, jazz, and any combination thereof that still sounds ahead of its time. If this wasn’t progressive I do not know what is. Indeed it was and even today as I listen it sounds so fresh and completely different than anything I have ever heard before.

Hendrix was far from being a one dimensional artist. His songwriting talents turned some heads along with his blazing and innovative guitar playing. This newly remastered set boasts an extraordinarily detailed sound that brings out subtle nuances never heard before, not to mention the underrated rhythm section of Mitch Mitchell (drums) and Noel Redding (bass). Everyone knows how great that rhythm section was but they were underrated at the time because Jimi got all the attention. Their work was bordering on other worldly and at times reached out into the vicinity of jazz fusion to keep up with Jimi’s equally deft guitar. It all blended together on this release to make it something special that has never been duplicated since. Hendrix and his mates would go on and to make more mind boggling music, but nothing like this debut.

Look at all the staples of rock that were created here on one album…”Purple Haze” screams of the mind expanding freedom of the experimental drug of the day and all the ensuing “Manic Depression” it would cause after the trip was over. Hendrix epitomized a generation and in fact led the way for so many other guitar players, it’s hard to fathom. Right after those two mind-blowing tracks “Hey Joe” was yet another born to be classic stretch of blues and rock. It is a smoldering hot guitar workout displaying Jimi at his very best musically and vocally. Then to suddenly switch gears and show the world his softer side, “The Wind Cries Mary” stands as a beautiful journey of sonic excellence. As a matter of fact, this entire recording is now sonically pleasing like it never was before.

For all of you space cadets Jimi had a treat in store, a trip around the galaxy inside the instrumental “Third Stone From The Sun” and then another blazing hot blues rocker “Red House” closes out the album giving the nod to Jimi’s roots before saying goodbye. And let us not forget the forever burning flames of “Fire” and “Foxy Lady”, their youthful exuberance and brilliant musicianship still ringing true after over forty years.

The DVD is another eye opener from the legendary engineer and producer Eddie Kramer. He pulls apart 4 tracks on the companion disc “Inside Look” on “Purple Haze”, “May This Be Love”, “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Are You Experienced”, which once again sheds more light on the brilliance of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. For the icing on the cake you get the extensive booklet for a deeper look into the process of Hendrix on his first outing along with plenty of photos.

It came as no surprise how good this would sound after another meticulous re-mastering process. As a matter of fact it sounds completely new and will make you realize, if didn’t already know, that this album is one of the greatest rock and psychedelic masterpieces ever conceived and I do not think it can be improved upon anymore at this point.

Are you experienced? You will be after hearing this for the first time in 2010.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Manic Depression

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

March 26, 2010

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