JIMI HENDRIX — Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

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Album · 1968

Tracklist

A1 And The Gods Made Love
A2 Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
A3 Cross Town Traffic
A4 Voodoo Chile
B1 Little Miss Strange
B2 Long Hot Summer Night
B3 Come On
B4 Gypsy Eyes
B5 The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
C1 Rainy Day, Dream Away
C2 1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
C3 Moon, Turn The Tides... Gently, Gently Away
D1 Still Raining, Still Dreaming
D2 House Burning Down
D3 All Along The Watchtower
D4 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Jack Cassady (tracks: A4)
Congas – Larry Faucette (tracks: C1, D1)
Drums – Buddy Miles (tracks: C1, D1)
Flute – Chris Wood (tracks: C2)
Horns – Freddie Smith (tracks: C1, D1)
Organ – Mike Finnegan (tracks: C1, D1), Stevie Winwood (tracks: A4)
Piano – Al Kooper (tracks: B2)

About this release

Reprise Records ‎– 2RS 6307 (US)

Recorded: Initial tracks at Olympic Studios, London, January 1968. Completed at Record Plant Studios, Studio A, New York, June to August 1968.

Thanks to Chicapah for the addition and snobb, kazuhiro for the updates

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JIMI HENDRIX ELECTRIC LADYLAND (JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE) reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Chicapah
Jimi Hendrix will forever be one of music's most tragic characters. Whenever I listen to this album I get a strong sense that there's more frustration than creativity emanating from Jimi. At this point in his here-today-gone-tomorrow career he'd become the poster boy of the adage "beware of what you wish for, you just might get it." During the early 60s when he was bouncing around the country, picking up spare gigs with the likes of Little Richard, The Isley Brothers and Sam Cooke, it's easy to imagine the young Mr. Hendrix staring out of filthy tour buses and dreaming of someday being a big star. Of being adored by the masses. Of being worshipped as a God of the guitar. Alas, his prayers were answered. But after releasing two unbelievably successful albums back to back with The Experience, Jimi had become all too aware of the high price of fame. The record company pestered him for hit singles, not brave exploratory forays into the unknown. The rabid fans that filled arenas demanded he play his guitar with his teeth behind his head while ablaze. The throngs of backstage hangers-on were hell-bent to be able to brag that they partied with Hendrix and generously supplied all the dope he could ingest. Success had not brought him the fulfillment he expected. It had brought bondage. He was now a prisoner of perception. Jimi once said "My goal is to be one with music. I just dedicate my whole life to this art." To which the label fat cats replied "Yeah, yeah, that's marvelous, Picasso, just try to crank out another "Foxy Lady," will ya?" So it should come as no surprise that "Electric Ladyland" is one schizophrenic collection of songs. On one hand you have an artist who's trying to appease the money men who helped make him a 20th Century icon and on the other a footloose rebel who only wants to submerge his consciousness in sex, drugs and rock & roll and have a good time making music with his talented buddies. Unfortunately too much of the latter invariably ends in tragedy. Just ask Jim Morrison. Or Janis Joplin. Or Syd Barrett. (Hmm. I guess we can't. Case closed.)

Booming drums not unlike those at the beginning of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" greet your ears as the album starts. (The irony being Hendrix was anything but common.) ".And the Gods Made Love" is a short piece of psychedelia consisting of studio tricks involving strange voices roaming through swirls of white noise. (It was the tye-dyed sixties, kiddos.) "Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland)" follows and the sloppiness of the basic track is well nigh unbelievable. It sounds like the first rough run-through in rehearsal. And the tune itself can only be likened to some kind of bizarre Motown R&B composed on sedatives. Each time I hear this one it baffles my mind as to why a man of his stature would select it as the opener, much less let it even appear on the album at all. Thank heavens for the loud face-slapper that is "Crosstown Traffic" to remind us that this is, indeed, a Jimi Hendrix product. While it's little more than an energetic radio rocker with a buzzy hybrid guitar/kazoo appendage it efficiently does the job it was paid to do, then drives straight home to be with the wife and kids.

The awesome "Voodoo Chile" is all the reason you need to own this recording. It creates the impression that you're walking down the hallway of a darkened smoke-filled studio at 3am, hearing ghostly amplified guitar notes echoing out from the main room. You get an unshakable premonition that you're about to witness something extraordinary. Jimi's thrown-together combo of Steve Winwood on Hammond organ, Jack Cassidy on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums delivers precisely the kind of spontaneous combustion that exemplifies the freedom of expression that Hendrix so craved. To say they create a hypnotic atmosphere doesn't do it justice. Winwood's growling organ and Jimi's fierce guitar circle each other like sinewy predators, constantly feeding off each other's intensity. Mitchell can be easily overlooked but he's unquestionably the maestro here, his drums skillfully keeping this powder keg of kinetic energy from detonating prematurely. His jazzy solo tactfully allows the band to digress into chaos at exactly the right spot before righting the ship just in time for the final verse/chorus and the exhilarating climax. As an added bonus they allow the tape to continue to run, capturing the honest reactions and elation of the musicians as they bask in the afterglow of being part of pure magic.

Want a buzz kill? How about "Little Miss Strange." Perhaps the Redding family enjoyed this anemic possum but not I. It's too awful to talk about. Having said that, "Long Hot Summer Night" really isn't much of an improvement. Flat, lifeless tones plague this weak offering that has no discernable soul and comes off very much as an act of desperation on Hendrix's part to make the suits happy. The trio's hot cover of Earl King's "Come on (Part 1)" slides in right from the chitlin circuit that Jimi paid his dues on and at least provides a tight track and a spitfire guitar ride to relish. It's not even a distant cousin of jazz but it's the kind of number that could be stretched out indefinitely in concert. "Gypsy Eyes" steers things back onto a more mature path but it's a woefully disjointed, jerky affair that constantly loses momentum and flow. "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" is a delight, though. Its irresistible, springy intro with the unique blend of guitar and harpsichord provides a much needed change of pace at this juncture and Hendrix's wah-wah work is subtle and supremely understated throughout. The airy, ascending background vocals are excellent and the clever chord pattern makes this one of his best creations.

Once again Jimi breaks out of the bonds of conformity and presents impromptu music from yet another collage of musicians on "Rainy Day, Dream Away." It's a cool mix of blues and jazz where Hendrix's guitar engages in an animated conversation with Mike Finnigan's organ and Freddie Smith's saxophone that eventually evolves into an interesting verse and a tag-along instrumental segment. Then it abruptly changes gears and fades away. "1983.(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" ensues and it has a dreamy, drifting aura built around a catchy theme augmented by cosmic vocal effects. It's one of the more experimental cuts on the album and quite a bit of thought was given to the arrangement. "Moon, Turn the Tides" offers a hearty slice of free-form improvisation with the flute of Traffic's Chris Wood flittering about. Mitch turns in a drum solo that's as smooth as still water, then they slyly return to the Merman theme ere to disintegrating gracefully into the ether. "Still Raining, Still Dreaming" picks up from wherever "Rainy Day" faded to earlier (kudos for the chutzpah to do that) but it's nothing more than a half-decent jam with some spirited wah-wah guitar.

"House Burning Down" is a stab at commercial accessibility and this odd jumble of song ideas very nearly works before collapsing under its own weight. The classic rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" is next and it's one of those queer songs (like the Beatles' "Drive My Car") that has an intro that I've never been able to grasp. It's some kind of freak of my nature, I reckon. But the tune is one for the ages for good reason. It's terrific and the composer himself was blown away by its originality. Jimi's voice and his amazing guitarisms were custom made for this enigmatic song. Which brings us to the titanic closer, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," a no-holds-barred frontal assault that finds Hendrix totally immersed in his crank-it-up-and-floor-it rock element. He plays with such passion, such ferocity, such sublime ANGER that it's a wonder that the song wasn't deemed a fire hazard. As if to tell the planet's populace where they could shove his too-many-strings-attached notoriety he prophetically croons "If I don't meet you no more in this world/then I'll see you in the next one/don't be late." I think he knew that long-term existence in a fishbowl just wasn't going to work for him.

"My personal philosophy is my music. Nothing but music - life - that's all" he was quoted as saying. If he had somehow survived his romance with narcotics I suspect that Jimi Hendrix would've at one point dropped out of the rat race (much like Clapton did) to join up with a group of faceless musical vagabonds who just wanted to travel around and have fun making a joyful noise. He thought he wanted stardom (as we all do) but the Devil's blood-soaked contract had hidden clauses that robbed Jimi of his most prized possession - freedom. The music on "Electric Ladyland" is an uneven assortment of angst and ecstasy borne out of the predicament Hendrix found himself in. He was the ultimate shooting star. Gone but never forgotten.

Members reviews

Warthur
The Jimi Hendrix Experience's final album captures the band just at the moment it disintegrated - when Jimi's soaring ambitions finally reached the point where Noel and Mitch simply couldn't keep up any more. Nowhere is this more obvious than on Noel's sole composition on the album, "Little Miss Strange" - an unambitious slice of 60s pop which shows absolutely no songwriting progress or development over "She's So Fine" on Axis: Bold as Love. But even as the structure of the trio disintegrates before your very ears, wonderful things come out of the cracks. The epic "Voodoo Chile", a sprawling improvisation encompassing a whole range of blues styles, doesn't even feature Redding on it - Mitch is still on drums, but Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady is on bass, and Steve Winwood guests on organ.

The album also sees Hendrix moving away from the songwriting approach that dominated his first two albums and going for increasingly long songs, no longer content to confine his ideas to brief two-to-three minute bursts. It's not that he's forgotten how to produce fast-paced and punchy short tracks - this album includes Crosstown Traffic, one of Hendrix's best songs in that style - it's just that he's less interested in it. This does mean that some of the shorter songs on the album aren't quite up to the standards of the epics - Long Hot Summer Night seems kind of shallow, and the cover of Come On (Let the Good Times Roll) is a bit of fun but doesn't strive to be much more than a bit of fun. Whilst Mitch seems game for this new direction, Noel isn't featured on either of the album's big epics (Voodoo Chile and 1983...A Merman I Should Turn To Be), both of which result from jam sessions which Noel wasn't sitting in on. But that isn't to say that the epics on the album aren't the only attraction, or that Noel isn't a presence at all - songs like Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (a heavy, proto-metallic summarisation of Voodoo Chile), and the awe-inspiring and definitive cover of Dylan's All Along the Watchtower show the trio in full flight. But it was more than clear at this point that Jimi not only didn't need the trio structure any more, he positively needed to branch out and experiment with other artists and band configurations in order to give full expression to his many ideas. The album isn't perfect - again, Little Miss Strange just doesn't seem to belong - but as far as a swansong for the Experience goes, it's a truly fine one.
Sean Trane
Jimi's wish to remain in America caused a few changes in the Experience. Indeed Chandler was resigned to leave his "discovery" to another manager, and bassist Noel Redding went home after a tour and would not really come back, as he was not on that friendly terms wiyth Jimi and the latter was also an accomplished bass player. Recorded in Jimi's custom-made studios (still under construction) in NYC, Electric Ladyland was a double album. As a sort of publicity stunt the album first came out with some 20 English naked girls holding his albums, but the US rejected the artwork (so did Jimi) and only a short series was put on the market, before a second artwork was issued. So this double album was made with mostly Jimi and drummer Mitchell, but also an impressive list guest stars such as Jack Casady, Stevie Winwood, Dave Mason & Chris Wood (Traffic), Buddy Miles, Brian Jones, Al Kooper amongst other.

Opening on toilet flush made from guitars scratching was certainly a better publicity stunt than naked girls on the cover?.. leading to the title track; where Jimi pulls one of his best vocal performance. After the short Crosstwown Traffic, the mood is right for a 15 mins blues jam Voodoo Chile where Winwood and Casady participates. Certainly one of the album's centrepieces, this was recorded in one take and live in the studio, with the witnesses commenting and applauding in the final mix. The flipside is made of 5 shorter tracks, which are definitely more accessible and probably aimed at AM radio airplay, most of which are of the calibre of the group's debut album. I'll point out Midnight Lamp and Little Miss Strange (sung and penned by Noel Redding) as the highlights of this side.

The second disc starts on coughing before Rainy Day takes into programmed boredom to lead us to the other centrepiece of the album, which was often butchered and considered as nonsense by experts and public alike. But 1983 and Moon Turns The Tides amount to 15 minutes of the most celestial and spacey music that have been recorded and show that Jimi had the capacity of writing longer tracks and think of constantly changing music. There is not one single minute of music in this "mother track" is wasted or redundant, most of it filled with soft spacey guitars and flutes. Grrrrrrrrreat stuff!! Although relegated on the flipside, Still Raining was probably meant to bookend the 1983 track with Rainy Day. Jimi Closes the album with three classic, House Burnin" Down (Buddy Miles singing), the fantastic Dylan reprise of All Along The Watchtower and the fabulous Voodoo Child, that makes him a god of the guitar.

Note that some of the changes are happening now, but will affect Jimi's career in the future, such as the unannounced sack of Noel Redding and the loss of Chas Chandler as a manager to old Animals manager Michael Jeffreys. The album will come out as an Experience album, but Jimi was tired of the usual tricks and routine of his early days and was looking elsewhere. Once again although not progressive per se, JHE's EL is a stunning piece of music, one of the cornerstones of psychedelic rock and rock in general. Personally I still spin the third side of this album at least once a year, which is an achievement given my collection's continued growth.

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