JIMI HENDRIX — Are You Experienced? (review)

JIMI HENDRIX — Are You Experienced? album cover Album · 1967 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Most of the time in music history progressions are made by tiny increments of experimentation where an artist tries something new and it is incorporated into the works of others and so forth and so on but the 1960s were one of those decades that was a musical equivalent of the big bang of ideas and innovation and JIMI HENDRIX and his EXPERIENCE were one of the innovators of this musical explosion with a totally new sound, style and approach on the musical landscape. Despite growing up in the US, his home nation wasn’t quite ready to embrace the full freakery he was about to unleash upon an unsuspecting world.

Despite hitting the live circuits and playing his heart out HENDRIX found it hard to earn a living even in New York City’s more receptive enclaves which openly supported other maverick bands such as The Velvet Underground. It seems that the world was merely blind to the musical potential stored in this young guitarist’s mind so after a chance meeting of Keith Richards’ girlfriend, Linda Keith, HENDRIX was introduced toChas Chandler (of the Animals) who was interested in managing new fledgling artists. This was the break HENDRIX was looking for and after relocating to London, Chandler recruited guitarist Noel Redding (formerly of the band The Loving Kind and would switch over to bass) and drummer Mitch Mitchell (of Wishful Thinking) to complete the new power trio. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE was born.

Chandler was serious about developing this band and the crew spent over five months in the studio crafting this classic debut album despite having a limited budget. The band found ways to save on other expenses by sharing cramped living quarters. When the album finally hit the market, ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? was an immediate and outstanding success. Only a year before Jimi was struggling to survive covering R&B songs as a back-up guitarist but as his latent talent was gestating his chance encounter with Keith Richards’ girlfriend and the ultimate move to London via Chas Chandler quickly turned the tide and THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE went from rags to rock and roll riches virtually overnight. And ever since the album debuted in 1967, the song “Purple Haze” has practically been played non-stop somewhere around the world at any given moment.

The artists who was utterly shunned only a year ago suddenly had released an album that took the world by storm. JIMI perfected the feedback guitar sound that the psychedelic world only hinted at and delivered a burst of energy to the whole musical industry that single-handedly inspired the whole world we know today. He was the prototype for heavy metal as well as blues rock, psychedelic music and outlandish stage antics such as his famous burning his guitar on stage or playing with his teeth. Add to that the jazzy touches that qualify HENDRIX as an essential ingredient in the prog rock explosion that followed a few years down the pike and it’s no wonder HENDRIX is so universally reverred. He literally dropped the equivalent of a musical bomb on the world which reverberates into the present world.

For whatever reason, the music industry of the era had decided to implement different marketing strategies for European and American markets and in this regard the JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE would be treated like many other bands of the day including other British Invasion acts such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks and therefore ARE YOU EXPERIENCED was segregated into UK and US versions which differed substantially. The UK version had the rather uninspiring black backdrop with the members posed while the much better US version had the Summer-Of-Love psychedelic cover. The track listings were different as well. For some strange reason the most familiar songs “Purple Haze,” “Manic Depression” and “Hey Joe” were left off the UK version despite being huge hit singles there.

As the decades have elapsed, ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? has become one of the most successfully popular albums of all time and almost universally considered one of the primary catalysts in ushering in the psychedelic and progressive music in a rock context that would follow. With his unique and adept singer / songwriter skills played out in the form of a power trio that took elements of R&B, blues, hard rock, jazz and psychedelia into extreme new frontiers made all the more powerful by HENDRIX’ charismatic showmanship that took the antics of Chuck Berry to the masses in the new era of freedom and love. The world would never be the same. I admit it has been difficult to gauge some of these tracks from the modern era since they do sound dated but if taken for what they are and when they were released, this indeed is a brilliant masterpiece of musical genius, however this album like many of such a magnitude have unfortunately received so much airplay as to become forever burned out.
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