By Sanket Sharma
Album: Electric Ladyland (1968)
Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Even though I have been obsessed with Jimi Hendrix’s music for a long time, I only heard all the songs on this amazing album a month ago. Everything, absolutely everything on this album is nothing less then extraordinary.
Right from the cover songs of Bob Dylan’s "All Along The Watchtower" and Earl Jones’s "Come On", to the fourteen minutes long blues jam in "Vodoo Chile" to the absolute brilliant "1983 (A merman I should turn to be)", to the outer spacey "Have you ever been (to Electric Ladyland)", to the funky "Gypsy Eyes", this album is filled with extraordinary material. Stylistically you can hear almost everything Jimi Hendrix has experimented with before, including blues, jazz, rock and a bit of Brit pop.
"Vodoo Child (slight return)", the final track on the album, is an explosion of the mind, body, soul, spirit and guitar all at once. An intense electric journey of over 5 minutes long, it is now a staple with guitar players around the globe. Speaking of electric, one of the best songs on this album is the electric cover of Bob Dylan’s song, called "All Along The Watchtower".
The original has a typical Bob Dylan sound to it (acoustic guitar accompanied by harmonica), while Hendrix’s version on the other hand, fills the song with splash of colour, energy and electricity. One of the most underrated songs is "1983", which is an amazing outer world sonic experience, as long as over 13 minutes. The most beautiful and sensitive track on this album is "Have you ever been (to Electric Ladyland)", which has a beautiful free flowing spacey sound to it. Other gems from the album are the funky "Gypsy Eyes", the psychedelic "House Burning Down", the high energy "Crosstown Traffic" and the jazz based "Rainy Day, Dream Away" and the long extended studio blues jam "Vodoo Child". Without a doubt Hendrix was at his absolute peak as a musician when the album came out.
Apart from being an extraordinary guitar player, he was also one of the best songwriters of all time, something that gets overshadowed by his guitar playing. His guitar playing is beautifully tangled with his song writing, and in my estimation the combination of the both makes him an absolute genius. I realise this now, but I never really imagined Hendrix separate from his song writing, right from the first time I heard "Purple Haze". And if you dig deep, into his works, like this album, the other two studio albums and the long list of music, that was released after his death, you would know that he gave us some of the most astonishing pieces of music ever produced. And for a start as well as an extension into the Jimi Hendrix planet, this album is highly recommended.