One of my fantasies as a hard core music fan was that Jimi Hendrix never died and he continued to make amazing music and produced some of the most phenomenal artist we would ever hear. While all of that is nothing but a series of “what could have been” scenarios it sure would have been an interesting ride if did happen that way. Instead we continue to get new music uncovered and re-masters of past classics from the Hendrix catalog. Who in the history of music did more in four years than Jimi? His impact was other worldly and the music he created was and still is an occurrence that is hard to fathom. He spent much more time in the studio creating than previously realized.
Recently Valleys of Neptune was released as a new album and to the surprise of no one it arrived in the top ten in album chart sales the first week of its release. The anticipation for anything released from the Hendrix estate is still an event that is celebrated and welcomed by millions of music fans.
With the ongoing reissues and reliving of The Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings there are several re-mastered and repackaged albums coming out including the amazing groundbreaking Axis: Bold As Love. This time out we get an extensive and detailed booklet with commentary and pictures that give you a glimpse of what was happening in 1967 for Jimi and his band. Not only do we get to hear the 13 awesome tracks in all their glory brought up to today’s listening standards, we can enjoy a bonus DVD with Eddie Kramer (the original engineer for Hendrix) at the mixing board breaking down all the tracks and segmenting individual parts out to explain what the intent was and how it was all created by the brilliant mind of Hendrix. Kramer explains things like the odd squealing sound in “If 6 Was 9” was Jimi playing around with tape recorder. I always got a laugh the way this album started with “EXP” and Jimi’s little nod to extraterrestrials; I am beginning to believe the man was not of this earth himself with the way he played guitar and the esoteric lyrics he came up with a lifetime ago now.
I have heard this album countless times and there are things I am noticing now that I never did before and not just the nuances and prolific licks of Hendrix but the rhythm section that helped to make Hendrix’s music complete. Noel Redding (bass and backing vocals including lead vocals on “She’s So Fine”) with Mitch Mitchell (drums) meshed well with Jimi in the studio making music. Eventually that chemistry would disappear due to the many differences they all had. The trio managed to record some incredibly memorable psychedelic rock that influenced everyone from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones. This album’s authority is still apparent today and the loss of such great musicians can never be rectified. The only way the music lives on is the continued revisiting and tweaking of the original master tapes and new listeners discovering it and realizing the true brilliance and progressive nature of the Hendrix catalog. The man invented progressive rock as a natural evolution with each studio session and this album is when it all started.
I have actually been listening to this more than the new album and have found myself in a constant state of fascination with the clarity of this re-master. Axis: Bold As Love always sounded great to me but now its stands alone in both sound and quality of musicianship like it never has before thanks to this reissue.
This recording has stood the test of time very well and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so.
Key Tracks: Spanish Castle Magic, Little Wing, Bold As Love
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 17, 2010
March 17, 2010