Sound — 8
There has been a wealth of unreleased material recorded by Jimi Hendrix that has been doled out by his family trust since his death, leaving more posthumous releases than albums released while Jimi was alive. While there are some people that feel like this is robbing Jimi Hendrix of his legacy, there are others like myself who are just happy to hear Jimi playing something new we haven't heard before. The claim is that this album was going to be a follow up to "Electric Ladyland". Jimi Hendrix began working on some songs in 1968 1969 at Record Plant Studios and a few from assorted other studios including Electric Lady Studios with the "Band Of Gypsys" lineup. These songs were mainly recorded with Jimi, Buddy Miles and Mitch Mitchell with a few other musicians guesting or helping out throughout. There are 12 tracks on the album with a total run-time of somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 55 minutes. A few of the tracks have been released previously, but not in this exact form. Jimi Hendrix wrote all the songs on the album except for "Bleeding Heart" and "Mojo Man". "Bleeding Heart" was written by Elmore James and "Mojo Man" was written by Albert Allen and Arthur Allen. Eddie Kramer was involved in the production of the album, as well as Janie Hendrix and John McDermott. With the recording of "Electric Ladyland" Jimi Hendrix had really developed a type of perfectionism in his recording that is not present on "People, Hell And Angels". The album is immediately rawer, and there are some takes that I'm sure Jimi was not exactly happy with. That is the blunt truth about the album it occasionally feels like a demo or otherwise unfinished project. Then suddenly Jimi plays a lick that blows me away. There are a few times on these songs where the intros or going into the chorus it feels like a previous Hendrix release, and maybe why these songs didn't make it out while he was still alive but make no mistake, these songs stand up on their own. It comes down to this while this album might not be completely "finished", it is still Jimi Hendrix. There is a heavy feeling of funk and blues on the album much more than was in "Electric Ladyland" but still with moments of psychedelia, such as the wah riff of "Somewhere". The album opens with a track called "Earth Blues" that comes in as something between a funk and blues song with some fairly straightforward guitar work. The version of "Hear My Train A Comin" on the album is really just a slightly different take of a song we're all familiar with. The song "Bleeding Heart" is a great blues track that sounds like Jimi doing his impression of Albert King, to my ears. I'm not going to say something about every song on the album, but I can say as I went from track to track it felt more and more like a worthwhile album. While the playing is a little raw at times, it is absolutely amazing at others.
Lyrics — 7
Jimi wasn't the best vocalist ever but he was definitely good enough to get the job done and his voice fit his music. Jimi sings all the songs except for on the tracks "Let Me Move You" and "Mojo Man". The vocals on "Let Me Move You" were performed by Lonnie Youngblood, who also performed saxophone on the track. The vocals on "Mojo Man" were performed by Albert Allen. The vocals on the album are satisfactory, except I would really have preferred Jimi's vocals on the track "Mojo Man". Here are some lyrics from the opening track, "Earth Blues": "Well I see hands/ and I see tear stained faces/ reaching up but not quite touching the promised land/ well I taste tears and a precious year wasted/ sayin' lord please send us a helping hand/ love love love/ on a mountain stands a woman/ love love love/ hey I feel her shining light/ love love love/ love must be the answer/ love love love/ thank you lord and keep her alright/ I heard the thunder, freedom's beating heart/ sirens clashing with flat earth and rock and stone/ I think you better love me now darling/ this might be too late after while/ and tell our child to bury old daddy's broken clothes/ love love love/ Hey I see a beautiful woman/ lord lord lord/ yes and I feel her shining light on me/ love love love/ love must be the answer/ love love love/ and keep on right for me".
Overall Impression — 8
When I first started playing guitar, I would go over to my friend's house to listen to his older brother's band practice. Their lead guitarist was probably the very best guitarist in our local music scene and I would just sit rapt and watch him play and wonder how he made it sound so easy. That is how I've always felt listening to Jimi Hendrix as well, and I think that there are a lot of people who feel the same way. There are hundreds or thousands of guitarists who would name Jimi Hendrix as one of their main influences, a lot of times the reason they picked up the instrument in the first place. There is a reason for that Jimi Hendrix's whole approach to the instrument was unique. He was doing things over 40 years ago with a guitar that people are striving to emulate today. While Jimi clocked out early in what I'm sure would have continued to been an amazing career, all we have left are recordings even when they are recordings that I'm sure were at least partially recorded and mixed after his death. The opportunity to listen to something from Jimi Hendrix that I haven't heard before brightened my whole day when I got my hands on this album. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite song off the album, because even when the album sounds raw it is impressive. For me, I guess "Bleeding Heart", "Izabella", "Inside Out" and "Crash Landing" are my favorites. Something about "Crash Landing" was really catching my interest but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. While I don't believe that "People, Hell And Angels" stands up to Jimi's releases while he was alive, I still believe this is an awesome release. I feel like that if Hendrix had lived and conquered his drug addiction and alcoholism (or at least kept it in hand enough to have survived), then most of these songs would eventually have been released during his life. Overall, I would recommend this album to everyone it is absolutely worth it.