April 11, 2010

The Jimi Hendrix Experience-Electric Ladyland Review

How was the Jimi Hendrix Experience going to top the previous release Axis: Bold As Love? Two albums had been released, Hendrix was already a legend, and everything he and his band did was groundbreaking and mind blowing. We all know now that the ride was not over yet - enter the incredibly progressive-psychedelic rock platter Electric Ladyland, appropriately named after the recording studio where all of this classic rock music was being created.

How does 1968, the original year of release of this record compare to 2010? Let me count the ways. Well just like all the other special edition releases that have been coming out of course. This package features the bonus DVD with Eddie Kramer taking us through the school of rock again and pulling apart this masterpiece (what wasn’t a stroke of genius that this man recorded?) in an “Inside Look”. “Cross Town Traffic”, “Gypsy Eyes”, “Voodo Chile” and “1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” was the subject of discussion and the professor’s lecture time further exposing the pure mastermind of the Hendrix recording process and his dedicated work ethic.
This is my third installment of this series and I continue to find the sound absolutely jaw dropping, which again brings every track on this album up to date. Even though it is all timeless it sure sounds better than it ever has, which compels me to explore each track with more attention every time I hear it. I pick up on subtle sometimes obvious nuances that were buried in previous versions that turn out to be integral segments of the tracks. I also must say this is the first time I have paid more attention to the lyrics of Hendrix and what they could actually mean. What was Jimi singing about in “1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” as his guitar cried to the universe? The intro is unforgettable and that guitar hook grabs you by the shorthairs with conviction. This was 1968 and he was visualizing what it would be like to turn into a Merman in 1983? Come on now, was this a drug induced spoof or was this dude really from another world with hidden messages in his music? I guess we all need to keep listening and decipher what he had to offer or just brush it off as psycho babble and enjoy the music. I am more analytical and look for the reasons why and what makes an artist tick so there is more to it than just the music for these ears.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience delivered on all facets of one’s listening experience all the way through Electric Ladyland. Excellent and varied musicianship was offered up with classic progressions of rock such as “Crosstown Traffic” and the blues barn burner “Voodoo Chile”. The tracks etched an imprint on your soul and consciousness like a 21st century laser beam. The Dylan classic “All Along The Watchtower” was transformed into a rock anthem that made you believe that Hendrix actually wrote it for Dylan.
The enigma of Hendrix was that he was original and eclectic and technically light years ahead of his time, but even when he took someone else’s song it became an entirely different psychedelic rock trip that you simply could not get out your head. If you listen to the transitions of a track like “Gypsy Eyes” it makes you shake your head in wonder how he pulled this off with the equipment had to use in that time period…  all he really needed was his axe. The difference was Hendirx was technically brilliant and innovative in every way and he knew how to use the tools he had at his disposal.
Electric Ladyland was another triumph for The Jimi Hendrix Experience and unfortunately their last official studio album before his untimely death (did you ever hear anyone say his death was right on time”?). 16 tracks of the ultimate Hendrix experience came right on the heels of the last head trip. Simply put this is amazing stuff that still holds you in its spell after all these years.
 5/5 Stars
Key Tracks: Crosstown Traffic, Voodoo Chile, All Along The Watchtower
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 11, 2010

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