|Obviously, in the world of guitar legend one man stands alone, head and shoulders above his peers; distorting time and space whilst achieving transcendental oneness with his guitar in a zen like reverie of Amerindian shamanism, Free love, sex, politics, feedback, fire and death.
If there was ever a sacrifice made to the guitar gods, it was Hendrix himself…exploding into flame at Monterey, Hendrix burnt away in a three year vapour trail of drugs, touring, alcohol, invention, and innovation – notwithstanding the management, money and mafia troubles that followed in his wake.
For those of you who are baffled by the countless re-iterations and compilations floating endlessly around; the remixes and terrible bastardisations such as the “Midnight Lightning”album, or “Loose Ends” (which clearly showcase an industry’s shallow greed in selling the out-takes from the cutting room floor and even using hired modern musicians to remake tracks), add to this the blatent misbranding of Hendrix’ work with Curtis Knight and many more – to help you in avoiding these shark infested pools of the Hendrix legacy here are 6 albums that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
- 1.Are you Experienced – 1st album – in one word: FIRE
Hendrix first album fuses gritty rock, psychedelia and feedback in a blistering journey to the centre of the cosmos. This is as close to ‘classic’ rock as Hendrix gets with pumping riffs, weird guitar solo`s (purple haze) and a lyricism that combines Dylanesque surrealism with the hip acid talk of the American Summer of Love. This album is filled with the triumphant feelings of revolution, victory and optimism. It`s a fervent and heady mix of grass roots psychedelia and Hendrix earthy hands on approach to guitar tone exploration.
- 2.Axis Bold As Love – 2nd album -in one word: WATER
The second album leans more heavily towards a lyrical mysticism and the lucid poeticism of songwriting with meaning and intent as opposed to the hard rock rattle and hum immediacy of its feedback soaked predecessor. Hendrix begins to blend the jazz and funk influences of his days on the circuit with the science fiction, metaphysics and exploratory lyricism of his imagination with a more refined approach to instrumentation and more nuanced style. The final title track is possibly one of the greatest arrangements of lyrical metaphor, melodic rhythm guitar and majestic lead ever written or recorded.
- 3. Electric Ladyland – 3rd album – in one word: TRANSCENDENTAL
Take the previous two albums and throw in some voodoo space-blues, low down groove, funk, rock and roll, orchestration and then blend into a transcendental masterpiece of songwriting, guitar playing prowess, musical exploration, ufology, time travel and the foreboding sense that the world si coming to an end. The sheer emotional intent of the guitar playing alone on this double album absolutely shines through as Hendrix delivers masterpiece after expressive masterpiece.
4. Nine to the Universe – studio jams – rare jazz-blues improvisations – awesome and tight
Hendrix rocks into the studio to have a jam and the sonic results are absolutely off the hook. With more of a leaning towards a modal approach to the guitar Jimi proves that literally everything is in his hands as he manipulates his stratocaster and amp to deliver a huge tonal range within the context of progressive jazz-blues fusion jam session. If you are new to Hendrix this might be a little too abstract for you but if you’re looking to expand your musical expression on the guitar without resorting to gratuitous effects and cheap tricks this is a great place to start.
5. Band of Gypsys – live – the once in a lifetime guitar mastery of epic sonic genius that is machine gun
After disbanding the original experience Hendrix returns to New York with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox to deliver a more loosely organised series of extended songs and groovy hooks centred around the opposing themes of war and peace. Never to be underestimated, Hendrix quite simply recreates the sonic palette and experience of the Vietnam war on Machine Gun, producing some of the most mesmerising guitar tones in the history of rock in an astonishingly complete performance. Hendrix touts acres of sustain and feedback, combined with tremelo induced ufology and science fiction sounds in an engaging live performance that proves EXACTLY why he is history’s most mind blowing rock instrumentalist. Hendrix’ intent though is not only to transport you into a world of complete sonic guitar mastery but also to inspire spiritually through the kyuss of great hooks, timing and melody (Power to Love).
6. The Jimi Hendrix Concerts – a great compilation of live recordings
This collection of recordings showcases the original experience at their best and includes the absolutely monumentous tonal mastery and feedback genius of Are You Experienced live on eof the greatest moments in guitar history. This has to be heard to be believed. This is what the Experience sound like live on a great night and theyre absolutely burning it up. If you cant get this disc then get the LIVE AT WINTERLAND album instead.
7. Beautiful People – If 60`s were 90`s –
Some old friends of mine Duncan, Phil, Dave and Luke remixing Hendrix for the early 90`s chillaxation-house scene. It’s groovy and Eric Clapton’s nephew digs it too. If you like the idea of Hendrix with “modern” beats then this might be right up your street. The stand out cuts are “Get Your Mind Together” and “Sea Eventually”. Remixes with PM Dawn sounded incredible but never officially materialised. If you want your Hendrix licks and melodies served up in a dreamy, groovy back-beat sauce with a focus upon the nouvelle cuisine sampling of a chillaxed club mix then this is the h’ors d’oeuvre you’re after. Rilly Groovy.
There is alot more to Hendrix’ reputation than his guitar sonics, IMHO, and if you`d like to explore a more historical and multifaceted approach to understanding Hendrix as a songwriter, creative and political force then please click here.