Sound — 9
Jimi Hendrix arrived in London in October of 1966, and Chas Chandler immediately got him in the studio to record his first single, "Hey Joe", with the B-side "Stone Free." That's how rock's most important debut album started. Hendrix was perfectly matched up with jazz drummer Mitch Mitchell and rock guitarist-turned-bassist Noel Redding to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Experience were brilliant in their debut, as they would be for the next 3 years. Their sound, especially for 1967, were highly advanced. Jimi used his knowledge of the blues and his loud Fender Stratocaster plugged into an overdriven Marshall amplifier to create an entirely different genre, something that may be categorized as psychedelic blues. We see the debut of the octavio effects pedal on the solo and outro of "Purple Haze", Jimi's most well-known track and the first track heard on this record.
Lyrics — 8
Jimi's psyched-out lyrics are very spacey and progressive, or at least they were at the time this record came out. He uses colors to describe his emotions, and he employs a lot of symbolism. The lyrics, especially on tracks like "May This Be Love", "Foxey Lady", and "Fire", go well with the music. Jimi Hendrix wasn't the best singer in the world, as he once said (paraphrasing here), "If Bob Dylan can do it, I can too." However, his singing matches with the emotion of his lyrics perfectly on most tracks, like "Red House".
Overall Impression — 10
There's little doubt about it: this is Jimi's finest overall rock and roll outing. Some would say "Electric Ladyland", which came out in 1968, was his best overall record in terms of sound and lyrics. But when it comes right down to it, "Are You Experienced?" is the stylistic base of everything that Jimi would do from that point forward. He drove away from pure rock with "Axis: Bold as Love" and "Ladyland", and still made some great music. The most impressive songs on this album include "Fire", when Mitch Mitchell's drumming is at its best, and the title track, "Are You Experienced?", an important song in the psychedelic landscape. I love that this album is just pure Experience. He uses very little overdubbing, a technique that he would later utilize to great extent on the aforementioned albums. I don't really hate anything about it. There's nothing to hate about it. It's electric blues or rock and roll or psychedelia. It's whatever you want to call it. It is kind of a mixture of all those things. If it were stolen or lost, I would most definitely buy it again. Everyone should own this album, or at least listen to it all the way through just one time.