JIMI HENDRIX — Axis: Bold as Love (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

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4.15 | 18 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1967

Tracklist

A1.EXP (1:54)
A2.Up From the Skies (3:01)
A3.Spanish Castle Magic (3:08)
A4.Wait Until Tomorrow (3:06)
A5.Ain't No Telling (1:52)
A6.Little Wing (2:30)
A7.If 6 Was 9 (5:35)
B1.You Got Me Floatin' (2:44)
B2.Castles Made of Sand (2:49)
B3.She's So Fine (2:43)
B4.One Rainy Wish (3:45)
B5.Little Miss Lover (2:25)
B6.Bold as Love (4:08)

Line-up/Musicians

Jimi Hendrix / guitar, vocal
Noel Redding / bass, vocal
Mitch Mitchell / drums

About this release

Track Record – 613 003 (UK)

Thanks to snobb, Chicapah for the updates

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JIMI HENDRIX AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE (JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE) reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Chicapah
Following the life-changing, personal mind explosion that was "Are You Experienced" in mid '67 I simply could not get enough of Hendrix. I was a bug-eyed, slobbering addict. I had a Jones for Jimi. I even let myself be suckered into buying an LP by some unknown named Curtis Knight because the cover said "featuring Jimi Hendrix." It was a blatantly opportunistic scam. While my hero may have been in the backup band, he had about as much to do with the music as the janitor who cleaned up the studio after the session. While that taught me a valuable lesson about the seedy side of capitalism it had no effect on my unquenchable thirst for anything Hendrix so, by the time the stateside version of "Axis: Bold as Love" was released in January '68, I was pacing outside my local record shop like a caged puma when they opened for the day, cash in fist. While it didn't have the drastic, dramatic impact on my consciousness that the debut had (in retrospect, few things in my life did), it met my rock & roll requirements and lofty expectations and I ended up wearing the grooves out of the vinyl nonetheless. To be completely honest, it hasn't held up to scrutiny over the 40+ years since its release even remotely as well as its predecessor has. It's truly yet another case of the sophomore jinx at work. But first I must breach the subject of the Brontosaurus in the room that is the ostentatious and amazingly garish cover art. It stands as the pinnacle of the iniquity that is miscommunication for all eternity to come. I can only imagine the awkward scene that unfolded when Track Records' Boss Hogg confronted the art department's head honcho after the project had long since gone to press.

Fat Cat: "Great Caesar's ghost, what the hell is THIS?" Art guy: "Wha..? You said Jimi had Indian blood in him." Fat Cat: "You lug nut! Does he LOOK like he's from New Delhi?" Art guy: "Oh! You meant THOSE Indians? Ooops. My bad."

Thus this set of songs is branded forevermore with an undeniably colorful, eye-catching veneer that's about as appropriate as a rendering of Jim Morrison sporting the papal tiara while fronting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Human error on this scale borders on the sublime.

On to the music. You know how you look back on a TV sci-fi program from your youth that you thought was the nazz at the time but now it's just silly? That's the album's opening sequence, "EXP," in a nutshell. Hendrix's short radio play was neat-o to my then 18-year-old, unjaded ears but other than Jimi's wild feedback frenzy (that proved that my record player was, indeed, a stereo device) the whole thing is shamefully dated even if it was, after all, the sixties. "Up From the Skies" follows and to say his legion of fans were collectively caught off-guard is putting it mildly. We were expecting (and wanting) his fiery lightning to strike and burn into our skulls immediately but what we got was a smooth saunter through Jazzville where Hendrix's coy wah-wah guitar and Mitch Mitchell's whispering brush strokes made us reluctantly stop and consider that maybe we'd underestimated the versatility of these dudes.

The aggressive introductory barrage that starts "Spanish Castle Magic" was more in the fashion of what we craved to hear. It has a very odd progression, for sure, but that doesn't necessarily make it good. The song is not melodic at all. It's as if he wrote the guitar parts first and then struggled to devise vocal lines that would fit over them. There's just something essential missing and there lies the rub. Unlike the professional tone they achieved on their debut, this record has all the appearances of being slapped together in a hurry to meet a deadline, much to its detriment. However the next tune, "Wait Until Tomorrow," is as slick and tight a track as they come so go figure. Jimi's slinky guitarisms are on full display as he glides effortlessly over the frets and Mitchell's suitably wicked drum fills are delightful and fun. Hendrix's humorous story about a botched elopement is engaging as he delivers clever lines like "do I see a silhouette/of someone pointing something from a tree?/click, bang!/what a hang/your daddy just shot poor me."

"Ain't No Telling" is a penned-on-the-fly, straight-ahead steamroller that doesn't even pretend to disguise Jimi's James Brown hot soul roots for a solitary second. A few well-placed kicks and accents help keep the song from becoming too predictable. Next up is the impeccable "Little Wing," featuring Hendrix's timeless and brilliantly executed preamble to what may be his most distinctive composition. The unexpected addition of a glockenspiel adds just the right touch of magic to words like "she's walking through the clouds/with a circus mind that's running wild/butterflies and Zebras/moonbeams and fairy tales/that's all she ever thinks about/riding with the wind." For a guy not known for his literary acumen, that's mighty poetic stuff. "If 6 Was 9" stands in sharp contrast to that tune's beauty, with Jimi's muscle-bound Strat throwing jabs to your gut like a heavyweight champ who's got you on the ropes. The complex jazz chords on the chorus are inspired, Noel Redding speed-walks his bass around the lead like a man possessed, Mitch's closed rolls are immaculate and Hendrix's unadorned, bare vocals make it sound like he's standing beside you. Here the creep factor is almost overwhelming as he orates prophetically "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die/so let me live my life the way I want to." The extended ending is psychedelic and fanciful as all get out with Jimi flailing away on a recorder like a paranoid Toucan tripping on LSD while trying to remember how to fly. It's phenomenally off the rails.

"You Got Me Floating" isn't bad for the pop rocker it was obviously intended to be but don't expect any surprises along the way. On "Castles Made of Sand" we get another dose of Hendrix's delicate and tasty guitar work but the looseness of the underlying track makes it feel horribly rushed until they get to the slower reprise that arrives too late to save it. The brief backwards guitar solo is definitely worth dropping in for, though. Noel's weak entry, "She's So Fine," only exacerbates his dearth of talent outside of being a bassist. Its only saving grace is that it runs by quickly. "One Rainy Wish" follows and here Jimi's intricate guitar lines and the song's dynamic arrangement make this rock & roll ballad work better than it should. Mitchell's deft handling of the two time signatures and his jazzy inflections add an impressive dimension to the tune.

The clumsy "Little Miss Lover" has filler-culled-from-a-jam-session written all over it but it also has Hendrix's unmistakable, sexual predator charisma dripping freely from it so it's hard to ignore. Which brings you to the glorious finale, "Axis: Bold as Love." Jimi's R&B heritage dominates the early going on this gem but his one-of-a-kind guitar flashes that float like graceful ballerinas dancing across a stage make it shine like the sun. After Hendrix sings, bestowing all the colors of the rainbow with human traits, Mitchell's flanged drums lead you into a shimmering fantasy land of bright pastels streaked with fire as sounds pan from right to left and around your head constantly. Jimi cuts loose with guitar spasms that seem to come from another part of the universe where music is the only form of intelligent life that exists. It's a spectacularly passionate performance from one of the all-time masters.

It's important to note that the bulk of the album was recorded before "Are You Experienced" even hit the racks in America so the stressful pressure to get it done yesterday was less-than-conducive to achieving artistic perfection. They didn't even know if what they'd been producing would appeal to the fickle populace in the USA at all yet their label was already impatiently demanding that they finish their 2nd LP! In other words, go easy on this album and apply a generous amount of leniency when appraising its merits. It didn't jump up to #3 on the charts for nothing and, while it may be the plain Jane middle child of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, it contains multiple great moments to savor and is a must-have for every JH fan.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
At the beginning of 1966, JIMI HENDRIX was struggling to even make minimum wage playing R&B covers. By the end of 1966, he had finished recording his first album “Are You Experienced?” and released it to great success as THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE band giving the rock world a must needed kick in the arse. By the beginning of 1967, the band was famous worldwide and penuriousness was replaced by every pressure known to the successful musician and piled upon the trio due to contractual obligations, thus a second album was demanded to be released within the same year of 1967. Sooooo THE EXPERIENCE rushed into the studio and recorded their second album AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE which came out in December, 1967 in the UK but was held back in the US because it was feared it would interfere with sales of the first album, so it was released in May of 1968. Typical record company malarky of the day!

AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE basically continues offering the same psychedelic, energetic and innovative blues rock concoctions that HENDRIX was so successful in constructing on album number one with his elegant display of melodic expansion in the most creative ways. The fact that this band so deftly and proficiently pumped out a majorly spectacular array of brilliant songs is a testament to the power of JIMI HENDRIX and explains how he was able to record decades worth of music in a very short time span when new material is still being released almost fifty years after his untimely passing. The tracks on this album were done with a healthy dose of studio recording techniques of the day and as a result most were never performed in a live setting with the exception of “Spanish Castle Magic” and “Little Wing” but THE EXPERIENCE successfully conjured up a brilliant followup to their spectacular ground breaking debut with grace.

Neck in neck with The Beatles in innovating rock’n’roll, AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE begins with the lysergic mind expansive trip of “EXP” which takes the art of microphone and harmonic feedback to new extreme levels for the day and simulates a strange close encounter of the third kind with extraterrestrial contact. After this strange album introduction, we get some more familiar HENDRIX action with a psychedelic funk rock narration of concerned extraterrestrial life returning to the Earth concerned of the abuses of the top dog species, namely, homo sapiens and how they are degrading the ecosystems upon which their lives are dependent. HENDRIX was totally in tune with the ecological issues plaguing humankind and was ahead of the rest of the world in adapting these issues to music. That would have made a great concept album actually but the album continues on a track by track basis with each song having its own theme and meaning.

Brilliantly THE EXPERIENCE eschews AXIS: from being a clone of “Are You…?” Instead it creates a somewhat similar but more nonchalant way of incorporating the recent upgrades in the rock universe with the usual psychedelic rock guitar riffage of HENDRIX himself with the jazz inspired drum workouts of Mitch Mithcell while the bass guitars of Noel Redding provide the most stable and grounding attributes of the music with the occasional jazz inspired methods as well. The album also adds lots of new instruments to the mix adding a more diverse feel from the debut. HENDRIX contributes piano and recorder, Mitchell adds some glockenspiel and Redding offers his best foot stomping percussion. AXIS: also has the best album cover of all THE EXPERIENCE years releases!

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE is certainly an archival type of band beyond most our musical experiences unless you are well into you 60s at this point. I did not start out loving this album by any means. In fact i always thought HENDRIX was fairly boring! However, there is something about these albums including this second one that has the power to burrow into the future and into my DNA that has infected me with admiration. True this is not technically as adept as what has come to develop over the decades that follow, but this was truly innovative at the time and if the listener simply resonates with the music, it will surely reveal its time period prowess and charm with merely a few attentive and open-minded listens. I now regard this album as much as a brilliant masterpiece as the debut. The musical elements sewn together with the concepts are outstanding and considering this was a trio makes it all the more impressive.
Warthur
Rush-recorded to fulfil contractural commitments, the second album by the Experience remains a credible and respectable addition to their discography. Spanish Castle Magic, Wait Until Tomorrow and Ain't No Telling are three of the Experience's best fast tracks lined up one after the other, before the album slows up with the soft lament of Little Wing offering a little calm before the crunchy psych-blues of If 6 Was 9.

Side Two is just as strong. Castles Made of Sand is one of the saddest and most haunting songs Hendrix would ever compose, whilst Bold as Love is a fine, fine album closer. Noel Redding even gets a chance to sing lead on his own composition, She's So Fine, which takes a typical 60s pop lyric and has the Experience absolutely go to town on it in one of the heaviest pure love songs of the 60s.

What's amazing about Hendrix's music is how complex it manages to be whilst, at the same time, so incredibly loud and energetic - it's proof that you can play cutting-edge psychedelia without toning down the rock.
Sean Trane
A more difficult album that often gets overlooked, stuck between its two encumbering neighbours AYE? And EL, A:BAL is nevertheless another excellent album. Stuck with that Hindu artwork, it's certainly noticeable in the racks, but it didn't carry any of the high profile hit tracks like its predecessor, so even nowadays, the album is not as "evident", in part due to some experiments.

Starting with the mind-blowing EXP track, the album produces a string of better-known tracks such as Spanish Castle, Little Wing, She's So Fine (a rare Redding-penned track), If 6 Was 9, but overall the album suffers from lesser material and there are a few fillers. Hendrix's guitar antics are still as convincing Mitchell's drumming still amazing and Redding's pedestrian bass quite apt, but Jimi was not even waiting for Noel anymore and a good third of the tracks feature him on bass. But an overly-gifted muso like Hendrix was also toying with the odd piano and blowing in a flute, which you'll hear during the course of the album.

Definitely lost between its cumbersome forerunner and successor, A:BAL remains a must for most progheads and it might even get a better opinion than the other two experiences, especially those into psych/space rock.

arcane-beautiful
To be honest, I have never been a big Jimi Hendrix fan. I always found him a tad overated, and never really made up for it with great songs. But I do love this album.

The cover enough is worth the price for me (I love Indian mythology).

This album does have some real underlooked and classic Jimi songs, and as an album, it just flows extremely well.

Their is some amazing songs on this, and the weaker material is still very strong.

With an added psychadellic factor to Jimi's guitar playing, it really is an achievment for him, and it made me respect more as a guitar player.

This album isn't the best produced eitherm with some aged flaws.

1. EXP- I'm guessing this is where Merzbow got his influence from. Very noisy and very well done. 9/10

2. Up From The Skies - Nice jazz influenced laidback song. Some nice guitar work. 8/10

3. Spanish Castle Magic - Great chorus and some kick ass riffs. Great vocals. 10/10

4. Wait Until Tomorrow - Love the chorus. Amazing guitar work. 10/10

5. Ain't No Telling - Quite funky. The backing vocals are quite weak though. 9/10

6. Little Wing - Just pure beauty. Amazing arrangement. Beautiful guitar work. The added glockenspiel counter melody is very nice as well, and quite unusual. 10/10

7. If 6 Was 9 - Love the lyrics. Great instrumental work. 9/10

8. You Got Me Floatin' - Great chorus. Very cathcy. Great production. 9/10

9. Castles Made Of Sand - Love the arrangement. The lyrics are also quite nice. Very soothing. 10/10

10. She's So Fine - Best song on the album, and Jimi had no real creative force behind it. My favourite Jimi Hendrix song ever. 10/10

11. One Rainy Wish - Quite dreamy with a nice arrangment. 9/10

12. Little Miss Lover - Wow, the drumming on this song is phenomanal. One of the first real uses of double bass pedals. Very funky. 10/10

13. Bold As Love - A nice end to the album. Love the improv bits. 10/10

CONCLUSION: Not perfect, but still an amazing album.

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