12 May 2013

12th May - The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Are You Experienced?

Artist – Album: The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
Released:  12th May 1967             
Sounds Like: An experience

It almost came down to a coin toss to decide which album was most worthy of today’s blog. It says something that the beautiful and haunting folk of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, released 5 years ago today, was never even in serious consideration for review. Nor was The Bluetones’ Luxembourg, although that was less of a special record... No, today was a straight head to head between the psychedelic blues-rock jams of Are You Experienced? and the druggy, country-tinged haze of The Rolling Stones’ exceptional Exile on Main St.

In the end, it came down to two deciding factors. 1) I haven’t done any Jimi yet, and he was a bloody legend; and 2) whereas Exile... was originally released to mixed reviews before gradually attaining its (deserved) exulted status, Are You Experienced? has always been, and will always be, recognised as masterpiece. Where Exile... is a grower, a charming shambles that rewards repeated listens, Are You Experienced? has the immediacy of one of its many solos and the cocksure bravado and panache that made Hendrix such a enigmatic icon.

From ‘Foxy Lady’ (ten points if you can’t hear it without picturing Garth from Wayne’s World) to ‘Are You Experienced?’, the album is chock-full of rock, blues, pop and soul and guitar virtuosity. It’s also worth noting that its credited to the Jimi Hendrix Experience; they were a band, not just a solo artist. Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding can be proud of the fact that they’re not completely eclipsed by the guitar god here. Check out Mitchell’s changing percussion on ‘Fire’ in particular – quite simply exceptional.

And all this from their debut album. Hendrix may have enjoyed only the briefest of careers at the very top, but the swaggering, passionate and empowering qualities that define his lasting legacy and influence are already on show here.

Albumaday... rating: 10/10

1.       Foxy Lady – 3:22
2.       Manic Depression – 3:46
3.       Red House – 3:53
4.       Can You See Me – 2:35
5.       Love or Confusion – 3:17
6.       I Don’t Live Today – 3:58
7.       May This Be Love – 3:14
8.       Fire – 2:47
9.       Third Stone from the Sun – 6:50
10.   Remember – 2:53
11.   Are You Experienced? – 4:17

Also released on the 12th May:
1972: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.
Also released on the 12th May:
2003: The Bluetones - Luxembourg

Also released on the 12th May:
2008: Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

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