Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Mixed Bag

Got the new Jimi Hendrix album People, Hell, & Angels today, and just finished listening to all four sides. Like all "new" Hendrix albums, this is comprised of studio tapes that had been previously unreleased in these specific versions; in some cases, other takes of the same songs have been released--but in those cases, the takes were sufficiently different that this new recording stands as its own song, not just a minor derivation of something already available.

The album is relatively stripped down in its mix--there aren't a lot of overdubs, there's little in the way of the effects that defined albums like Electric Ladyland, and it's often just a trio or quartet of musicians performing pretty much "live in the studio." In that regard, it's the purest form of Hendrix, I guess... but I'm one of those guys who prefers Hendrix at his most imaginative, using the studio as a means to a sound. Even so, I've enjoyed what I've heard here.

Part of the fun for me was a chance to hear "Somewhere," one of the songs that Hendrix recorded with Stephen Stills. Supposedly another Hendrix/Stills collaboration will show up on Stephen Stills' box set slated for release at the end of the month. Hard to believe that, more than forty years after their collaborative sessions, there are still songs that haven't been officially released (and reportedly a few that haven't even been unofficially released)...

Purists will be happy to hear that there are no posthumous session overdubs here; this is the music Hendrix recorded as he recorded it.  It may not be his best material, but it's his distinctive sound--and since the best material has long since been released, I knew going into this that I was going to get musical leftovers. The good news is that the leftovers are still better than a lot of the new music coming from other guitarists. And I actually like this better than one Hendrix album that was released when he was alive (that would be Band of Gypsys, which has always come across to me as a dreary album).

If you don't have any Hendrix, don't start here--but if you do, and you like what you've heard, then I strongly recommend this album. If you're a fan of Hendrix's blues guitar, you're going to be particularly happy.

No comments: