It is sad in retrospect that it all unraveled for Jimi Hendrix after this album was released. He lost bassist Noel Redding and also his long term manager Chas Chandler around this time, both for different reasons. Hendrix himself was in a musical wilderness for the most part after the release of this album until his premature death in 1970, joining the infamous “27 club” when that occurred.
Despite all this, what an album! This is by far Jimi Hendrix’s best effort, despite all the other negativity going on in his life. It sounds futuristic, psychedelic and fantastic. Jimi Hendrix himself knew he had something fantastic here, and this album is an underrated classic. Let’s dive in and have a listen.
…And The Gods Made Love begins our journey into this album. It’s a series of bangs and distorted vocals aplenty. It’s psychedelia for the space age, and sounds quite brilliant. A nice intro to this awesome album.
Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) comes next. It’s a tripped out, psychedelic soul piece which is best heard than ever explained here. It’s a short and nice sounding number from Jimi Hendrix, the outro is mint.
The following song is a more uptempo number which mixes subtle humour and image based references by Hendrix himself. Crosstown Traffic tells us the comparison between heavy traffic and communication. It’s great, especially through headphones. A must listen. It segues into the next song.
The lengthy blues jam Voodoo Chile is a fantastic sonic journey. It should be, it is 15 minutes long. It is proto progressive rock, although it never bores you. “The night I was born, I swear the moon turned a fire red…” sings Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was much more than simply one of the greatest electric guitarists to walk this planet, he was a true musician. When the chorus arrives, Jimi gives us his all. The rest of the band follow along perfectly and there is brilliant interplay between the instruments here. There is fuzz based guitar work, some subtle bass guitar, awesome 1960’s organ playing and fantastic jazz drumming. The lead guitar lines and organ do an unusual call-and-response effect, before resuming into this awesome jam. Jimi sings once again, referring to himself potentially as a sort of cupid with arrows of desire. It’s just such a pleasant and wonderful listen here. A great sense of hammer ons and whammy work then hits you, before Mitch Mitchell launches into almost a drum solo. It’s so good to hear this, who said long songs were boring? The instruments combine in a crescendo piece, before a load of microphonic feedback occurs. “Turn that damn guitar down!” calls out a member of the audience in response to this, to some laughter from such a comment. Once again, we return to a more song based listening experience. A great outro solo occurs from Jimi Hendrix with the rest of the band, before the piece ends. By the time it finishes and there is some audience chatter with the band, we conclude that Jimi Hendrix was a fantastic and great guitar player, and musician.
Little Miss Strange is a Noel Redding song. Ironically, Noel and Jimi Hendrix were apparently fighting a lot around the recording of this album. That aside, we have some fuzz based Fender Stratocaster tones from Jimi and some very good singing from Noel Redding as well. It finishes with a nice wah-wah guitar solo, a good touch. A nice smaller piece on the album.
Long Hot Summer Night is next. It’s another good song for such a situation, and just sounds as good as the other songs on the album. There is some extremely intense psychedelic imagery here, it sounds like Jimi Hendrix was tripping hard, along with the rest of the band. Some really brilliant playing, mixing lead and rhythm guitar sensibilities are here from Jimi. Some subtle piano and tremolo picking finishes this nice song.
The very positive and uptempo Come On (Let The Good Times Roll) comes next. It has some beefy guitar tone during the chorus, before hitting into a beautiful wah-wah guitar solo which is totally out there, musically speaking. The rhythm section is just as good, with the bass guitar and drums fighting for space. Another surprising and excellent piece, Hendrix sure knew how to play guitar, and that is no exaggeration. There is some amazing sounding melodic work on the fade out of this song.
The next piece, Gypsy Eyes, is a nice hippy ode to a strange sort of lover. Mind you, this was the late 1960’s. Still, although it may come across as a weaker number, it sounds well thought out and amazing in many senses. Don’t press skip at all on this record, just listen to the music here. Some brilliant hammer ons and palm muted riffing are here to hear.
Burning Of The Midnight Lamp is a great harpsichord and wah-wah driven piece, apparently recorded much earlier before the release of this album in 1968. It’s a trippy adventure, lyrically and sonically. There are also some gospel backing vocals here as well, a nice addition to this song. A great listen. The drumming in the outro is awesome.
Rainy Day, Dream Away is just stunning. It mixes some subtle Fender Stratocaster playing with some beautiful saxophone playing, a shuffle like groove and more trippy organ playing. And that is even before Jimi Hendrix begins singing. When Jimi begins singing, we hear the structures and soloing merge together to make a truly great piece at hand. It all then fades out, into the next brilliant piece of genius.
The next piece is truly wonderful and unforgettable. 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be) is a psychedelic, surreal and image based piece on this album. Yes, it is another long piece, but once again, is very interesting. One could only think about if Jimi Hendrix had survived his premature death and made a lot more great music. But this album centrepiece, obviously LSD based and inspired, never has a dull moment. It has some intricate guitar playing, melodic bass playing and stop/start drums. It is best worth hearing before one could ever judge it, so do yourself a favour and listen to this piece right now if you have not done so already. It’s so brilliantly done that it is unsurprisingly noted that people such as Syd Barrett and Eric Clapton were in awe of Jimi Hendrix. It’s a surreal, underwater trip, and flows so nicely. Exceptionally great. Steve Winwood of Traffic plays flute here as well. All in all, fantastic. A must listen.
The interlude Moon, Turn The Tides…Gently Gently Away is pretty simple. It’s a load of stereo panned spacey rushes which is ear candy. We go back to reality after a minute or so.
Still Raining, Still Dreaming is a continuation of Rainy Day, Dream Away. It’s still as good as the first piece of the two songs, it just has more melodic guitar soloing goodness from Jimi Hendrix. It really grooves along nicely. Jimi shows everyone who is in charge, and does so magnificently. It threatens to stop a number of times, but when it finally does, we are satisfied with the music we have just heard. Nice.
House Burning Down has some fiery imagery about said subject. It has some really almost funk like guitar work here, and just sounds pretty cool. Some wacky lyrics are here. It’s a bit weaker compared to some of the other songs here, but all the same, it’s listenable. A super exercise in stereo sonic listening.
The Bob Dylan cover of All Along The Watchtower is actually, believe it or not, more popular than the original piece that Bob Dylan recorded. You can see why – it sounds so powerful and emotional in intent that it is unbeatable and unforgettable as a cover. A must listen for any Jimi Hendrix fan or those who are interested in hearing Jimi’s music. The slide guitar piece in the centre of the song is brilliant. Outstanding.
The last song Voodoo Child (Slight Return) is a brilliant and expertly delivered piece by Jimi Hendrix. Ironically, Jimi Hendrix delivers a farewell note in this song, “I won’t meet you all in this world, I’ll meet you in the next world. Don’t be late!” It’s a great and poppy number to finish off this quintessential sonic trip. Brilliance, pure sonic bliss.
This album is a must have for any music historian or rock fan. In fact, it is so awesome and inspiring that many people will be blown away simply by listening to this album. It’s a great, great listen. Enjoy it as much as you can.
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