Jimi Hendrix

Album Title: 
People, Hell And Angels
Release Date: 
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Review Type: 

It seems incredible, but even after more than 40 years past Jimi Hendix' death (he died on September 18, 1970), people still find original recording masters with studio material which was never before released!

Of course, the man was a prolific musical genius. Success with The Jimi Hendrix Experience came after the band's release of the '67 album Are You Experienced?, and was a turn in Jimi's career. Due to an unhappy deal with the record label, a second albu hàd to be delivered that same year, giving birth to Axis Bold As Love at the end of '67. Followed third album Electric Ladyland (for which Jimi played part of the bass himself, due to the increasing discontent of Noel Redding, not only with the band's growing popularity, but also with Jimi's sometimes annoying sense of perfectionism) which was  which was released in 1968. Following the Denver Popfestival in late June 1969, Redding announced his departure. A month later, at the infamous Woodstock festival, Jimi would surprise one and all (except insiders, who knew better), by appearing on stage with a new band, which he called Gypsy Suns And Rainbows, and which including Experience's drummer Mitch Mitchell, his old army buddy and bassist Billy Cox, second guitarist Larry Lee, and extra percussionists Jerry Velez and Juma Sultan.

But to those in the know, Jimi's wanting to work with people outside the Experience was not a new thing, had in fact been growing since early '68, and at every free moment when Experience was not either touring or recording, Jjimi tried to spend as much time as possible in the studio (which he rented himself, independent of the record company), developing and recording new material. The 12 tracks on People, Hell And Angels come from a total of 8 sessions, recorded in 5 different studios. The oldest session (March 13, 1968) is one recorded at NY's Sound Center, with friends Buddy Miles on the drums and Stephen Stills (normally a guitarist, as you may know) on the bass. After several rehearsals, the song “Somewhere” was recorded. It was actually the first recording done by Jimi, without the outside help of a producer. In spite of the song's potential, it was not included in the Electric Ladyland album.

The following 4 sessions included on this album all happened at NY's Record Plant. The first was actually one of several sessions for the Electric Ladyland album. As mentioned earlier, Jimi would regularly overdub the bass, as Redding wasn't willing. Another song which didn't make said album, was the instrumental “Inside Out”. Fast forward to March 18, 1968 (time in between was filled with extra recordings for Electric Ladyland, and the ensuing live promotion of the album, which was extensive), when Jimi recorded the songs “Let Me Move You” and “Hey Gypsy Boy”, with quite different line-ups. The first was recorded with Lonnie Longwood (Jimi had previously contributed guitar on Longwood recordings) singing and playing saxophone, and they were believed to be joined by bassist Hank Anderson, organist John Winfield, drummer Jimmy Mayes, and an unknown percussionist. “Hey Gypsy Boy” then, finds Jimi paired off to drummer Buddy Miles, and an unknown bassist. An overdubbed version of this song was released on the 1975 posthumous album Midnight Lightning, but this is the original version! Record Plant had upgraded its studio prior to Jimi's visit in March '69, and it was clearly with pleasure that he returned there for further sessions. On April 24, 1969, he found time to record a song entitled “Crash Landing”, which is best known as the title track on the 1975 album which featured Hendrix master recordings posthumously overdubbed by session musicians. This version however, includes the original contributions of drummer Rocky Isaac and bassist Billy Cox, two percussionists, and an unknown organist, whom Jimi had to instruct in the studio as to exactly how to play the song, which made for a lengthy session indeed (more details, as of all other tracks, can be found in the album's track-by-track liner notes!). Then, on May 21, Jimi returned to Record Plant with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, and recorded three tracks on that same day : “Hear My Train A Comin'” (recorded by the Experience, Jimi was nevertheless keen on trying the song out with Cox and Miles), “Bleeding Heart” (originally by Elmore James and a longtime favourite of Jimi's, he'd attempted to get a good recording of it with the Experience during the band's April '69 recording sessions. A new version, with Cox on the bass and Rocky Isaac of Cherry People on the drums, was recorded three weeks later, and that version would end up as part of Valley Of Neptune. This session is a completely different take), and “Villanova Junction Blues” (a song which was in fact never fully finished).

In the aftermath of the Woodstock festival, Jimi took his new band (see earlier) to NY's Hit Factory studio, where the band recorded the tracks “Izabella” and “Easy Blues”. The first was a song introduced at Woodstock, the second is a Jazz-influenced instrumental, of which part was issued on the 1981 album Nine To The Universe. Seven months after their first session in May 1969, Jimi, Cox and Miles returned to Record Plant to record an album under the name The Band Of Gypsies, to fulfill a legal obligation that had been hanging over Jimi's head for over a year (for details, see the liner notes). This version is completely different from the one issued on the posthumously released album Rainbow Bridge (1971).

Last, but not least, a session at Jimi's own Electric Ladyland Studios, which he himself only enjoyed for about 4 weeks (three of it while the building was still under construction). You see, it's a bit of a special one, as it's not really a Jimi Hendrix song. Twin brothers Albert and Arthur Allen had enjoyed a friendship with Jimi since the latter's Harlem hardship years. Working under the monicker of International GTO's, the brother released three singles for the Rojac label and its affiliate Tayster Records, but none of these had managed to make any significant impact. In 1969, the two had traveled to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to record two new songs, and hoped that these new recordings, which had been influenced by Jimi's success, would make a difference. In June of the same year, Hendrix invited Arthur to hang out with him, in the recording studio he and engineer Eddie Kramer had rented to mix some live recordings the band had done for a possible album. Although he was at that time in New York, Albert gladly complied to his friend's call, and ended up playing both songs to Jimi in the recording studio. The International GTO's disbanded not long after, and the Allen brothers became Ghetto Fighters. When Electric Ladyland  opened in August 1970, he invited the Allen brothers to come sing backing vocals on the songs “Freedom” and “Dolly Dagger”. While they were in the studio, he asked about the song “Mojo Man”, which was on the tape Albert had let him hear, because he had ideas about how the song had to be recorded. A new master was made from that mix tape, Jimi put some splattering guitar on top, and the result can be heard on People, Hell And Angels!

To be savoured by Jimi Hendrix fans, one and all! And a new album goes onto that “Best Album Of 2013” list of mine!