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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced (1967)

November 11, 2013

[Album 260/1001]220px-Are_You_Experienced_-_US_cover-edit

A debut for the ages that should probably be higher on many best of lists.

The problem: which version of the same album?!

The Original British edition had eleven tracks, but did not have the three major hits (Purple Haze, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary).

The US/Canada release added those three tracks, but removed Red House, Can You See Me, and Remember.  Curiously, Foxy Lady became Foxey Lady as well.  It would be tough to argue that these three omissions were stronger, track-for-track, than their replacements.  However, it all feels cut-and-pasted; the running order was also changed, making it feel more like a compilation than a proper studio album.

Make no mistake: this is the sound of a band.  Jimi’s revolutionary guitar work is self-explanatory but the contributions of Noel Redding & Mitch Mitchell are nothing less than essential in the songs.

One year with my guitar class, I asked students to each submit names & vote for the “Best Guitarist Ever.”  The task: defend your choice, convince the class in a presentation, show their nominee’s finest moment on YouTube.

To make it more interesting/less accurate, the 16 names were then placed randomly in a tournament bracket.  Riots were narrowly avoided after, due to the fatal flaw of the bracket system (the luck of the draw), Jimmy Page & Jimi Hendrix ended up facing off far too early in round one!

There were some surprising omissions, some surprising choices, and a few surprising upsets in the early rounds.
Though I can’t say I was terribly surprised to see the overall winner:

Best Guitarist Ever

He had style, he expanded musical boundaries, and most importantly, he wrote some great tunes.

Perhaps the only blemish on his songwriting resume isn’t even his fault!

Released twenty-one years after his death, Jimi is credited as a songwriter on what is universally considered one of the worst songs of all-time.

He had nothing to do with the lyrics but a guitar part from this album’s Third Stone from the Sun was sampled.

The song?  The unforgettable, for better or worse at 1:15, I’m Too Sexy.

From → 1960s

  1. The UK vs US is a bit difficult. There are good and bad things about both. I always felt the UK version was a little patchy but totally agree that the US feels more like a compilation. I preferred Axis and Ladyland to the debut in any case!

    • The good news is Axis & Ladyland made the 1001 as well – the other band whose first 3 albums all made the list? Would not have guessed it myself, but it’s Dexys Midnight Runners!

      • Seriously?! Good on them, I only know a couple of songs of theirs.

      • Yeah in Canada they were widely considered one-hit wonders, which may be true commercially but I think that’s a misconception in terms of quality. I’ve only heard one of the records so far, but it was pretty solid.

  2. Noooooo! Not Right Said Fred!!!

    Oh well, not his fault right?

    Didn’t know about the US vs UK versions. Typical for the period. I’m wondering, there must be some kind of deluxe edition that has all the songs and then some.

    • Hey Mike, just looked at my 1997 “Experience Hendrix” reissue CD from 1997 and it contains the original US/Canada version tracks plus the following six bonus tunes: Stone Free, 51st Anniversary, Highway Chile, Can You See Me, Remember, and “Red House (Stereo mix).

      • There ya go. I remember the Experience Hendrix series of reissues to be of high quality. And as far as reissues go, with Hendrix there are too many to keep track of in my head!

    • Certainly not to blame for Right Said Fred! It’s sort of like Fred Astaire being edited into the Dirt Devil commercial: – would he have green-lighted the project if he were still alive?
      From ’66-70, unbelievable how prolific Hendrix was during those few years.

  3. Great post! As your students learned, despite all the amazing guitarists out there, it’s hard not to put Jimi first if only because his playing seemed to flow so deeply from within himself. There may be some more monumental riffs and even more soul-touching solos recorded by others, but I’d argue that the combination of Jimi’s playing with his musical “aura” (for lack of a better descriptor) is unmatched.

    • My thanks! I’m in full agreement about the ‘intangibles’ that make up a great guitarist. Note for note, someone could probably play faster/more dazzling riffs in some way but it wouldn’t have the soul.

  4. The bracket system is, of course, deeply, deeply flawed. Nevertheless, I disagree with many of the choices.

    Best? Difficult call. Presumably, not most influential, most popular, most innovative, most technically proficient, but best. Tough call. I wouldn’t put Hendrix in that spot, though.

    • It’s true – and at the time, the nominations & voting was done by 16 year olds. I’d imagine if I polled the same group now that they’re 19, a few of those names would of course still be there (Clapton, Page, Ray Vaughan) but they would likely have discovered a lot more that weren’t on their radar in high school.

      • Ray Vaughan is not like Baden Powell or whatever—Ray is his middle name, not the first of two last names (which is very rare in the USA). It’s Stevie Ray Vaughan, like Billy Bob Thornton. Most people in the States probably have 2 given names, but in the south it is common to be called by both at once.

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