|Preconceived Notions: Growing up an aspiring musician, you learn about Jimi pretty quickly. In my highschool history class senior year I wrote a 20 page term paper on Jimi’s cultural influence as well as his more obvious impact on the music scene. So I’m very very familiar with Jimi’s entire career. That said, I’m not a huge fan of Jimi’s music – in that, he’s not an every day listen for me. I respect the dude immensely, but his stuff to me is a mixed bag.
After Listening: It’s Jimi being Jimi. Lyrics that oscillate between profound and absurd, and guitar playing that actually has its most sublime moments in the mellow, no flashy moments. To speak specifically to this album is what I’m supposed to do-but I think my feelings for it can best mirror my feelings on Jimi as an artist. One thing that always gets brought up in the “greatest guitar player of all-time” discussions – of which Jimi is always a candidate is the issue of speed. And the lesson there is simple….Jimi was flashy and fast – for his day, but there eventually came along faster players, flashier players…there will always be somebody faster…
Jimi’s endurance comes more from his arrangements and his perfectly executed backings on tracks like “Hey Joe” and the “The Wind Cries Mary”….that’s the kind of thing that keeps him relevant long after one gets desensitized to something like “Purple Haze” which quickly finds itself repeated until it loses most of its punch. My take on Hendrix has always been that he brings you in with stuff like the famous Monterey Pop “Wild thing” guitar burning, his national anthem, and something like “Fire” which moves at a (especially for the time) crazy tempo. But ultimately what keeps Hendrix alive for most people are his stylistic – imperfectly perfect guitar phrases featured in such songs as “Little Wing”, “wind Cries Mary”, “Castles Made of Sand” etc
I’ll give Hendrix a lot of credit for being almost “sort of sloppy” and always Hendrix, he never polished anything he just put out his true musical expression…and that will always be his true strength.
Favorite Tracks: “Hey Joe” – From that simply amazing jangly but somehow ice smooth opening guitar lick, to the subject matter of the lyrics….everything about this track is great. Even the drum fills are exceptional and easy to miss on casual listen.
No least or unlikable tracks
Overall: 4.1 I’m not someone who thinks Jimi gets too much credit – for a guy that could play the guitar right or left handed, with the strings in reverse order or straight, someone who introduced huge advancements in guitar wiring and distortion, a guy who changed recording processes, and someone who remained uniquely true to his musical vision for his entire career – all the time while being considered the very top of his field…well overrated is not a word I would ever use…
But, to me some of Hendrix’s stuff remains dated and not very interesting – and that’s a mix that includes both some of his more popular stuff which has been worn out for me, and some of his rarer stuff that just never clicked. This album is his start, and it remains a worthwhile effort….to me it’s just not all the way at the top.
I wished he would’ve survived to make studio albums with the Gyspys when he was branching out musically…but what he gave the world as it was pretty damn good.
Incidentally, if you haven’t seen this…you don’t know Jimi…