Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

For this week’s Flashback Friday I’ll continue a trend from last week, and take a look at another important three-piece band. This time we’ll be going all the way back to 1967 when the Jimi Hendrix Experience released their debut album Are You Experienced. Jimi Hendrix’s unique new approach to songwriting and electric guitar helped to establish an outline for the “Psychedelic Rock” movement, as well as inspired guitarists for generations to come. Hendrix is rightfully remembered as one of the greatest musicians of all time, but his fame often overshadows that of his bandmates, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Let’s take a look at their first work.

The Vocals:

Jimi Hendrix serves as lead guitarist and lead vocalist for the group. At times, while listening to what he’s singing and playing all at once, it seems like Hendrix has two brains. He’s got this big gritty voice that adds a lot of soul to each of these tracks. From harder rocking tracks like “Purple Haze” and “Hey Joe” to the soft ballad “The Wind Cries Mary”, Hendrix shows that he’s a multi-talented powerhouse. Hendrix also shows a lot of skill as a songwriter, writing ten of eleven songs on this debut work. The lyrics have been noted to contain a lot of influence from artist Bob Dylan, and if you pay close attention it’s pretty plain to see. Safe to say the vocals are rock solid on this album.

The Instrumentals:

The first thing you have to consider here is Hendrix’s guitar playing. Even today, over fifty years later, his guitar is impressive, to say the least. But for 1967 Hendrix was getting a sound out of an electric guitar that nobody imagined possible. The riffs and arrangements he puts together float around through hard rock, classic R&B, and even freestyle Jazz. It’s obvious that the guitar on this album is strong, but what I feel goes overlooked is the rhythm section made up of Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. Hendrix needs a strong rhythmic backbone to lay his sound over, and these two always deliver. If you listen close Noel Redding has to follow some crazy bass lines in order to keep Hendrix on track. Mitch Mitchell adds a lot to the psychedelic styling of the band, as his contribution sounds like distant jungle drums over each of the songs. These guys play together so well that it’s hard to believe they were put together by their studio. Very strong instrumentals on this album.

The X-Factor:

The x-factor for this album is probably the production. Production has been an integral part of creating the psychedelic rock sound that we know, from Pink Floyd to the Sargent Peppers album. Producer Chas Chandler did some really cool effects on some of these tracks. The background vocals on “Hey Joe” add a lot to an already amazing song, and “Third Rock From the Sun” is somewhat droning, but it seems like Chandler’s time to shine. Great production was a huge bonus for an already great album.

The Essentials:

“Purple Haze”, “Manic Depression”, “Hey Joe”, and “Foxey Lady”

The Rating:

This album was a landmark for rock music and would serve as a template for rock guitarists for generations to come. It’s gotta be a…

8.8

That’s all for this week, make sure to check out all the other cool stuff we’ve got going on at Colossus Music! Until next Friday.

-Drew

the jimi hendrix experience

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