People, Hell and Angels
Legacy Recordings, 2013
After 40 years of sub par bootlegs and incomplete ideas surfacing as “New” Hendrix material, finally there’s something worthy of his legacy and name. Since his passing, labels from here to Shanghai would slap a picture of the fabled lefty on any damn recording captured underneath a bulky sweater and call it good, leaving the field of posthuomous Jimi recordings crowded with unflattering crap.
So this collection of carefully restored and cleaned up recordings culled from 1968-1970 is a welcome addition to the official Hendrix discography. Opening with “Earth Blues,” there are no real surprises here. The song sounds like it could have come Axis: Bold As Love and is a nice easy way to re-acquaint ourselves with Mr. Hendrix. But it’s with the second track, “Somewhere,” we hear the Hendrix of myth and mimicry. We’ve heard so many artists copy this sound and style at this point, it almost sounded like a Stevie Ray Vaughn or Robert Cray pious homage, rather than the man himself. The song even has Stephen Stills on bass.
“Let Me Move You,” is the albums centerpiece. The song’s a solid guitar workout, vividly displaying every last reason why Hendrix deserves his place in pop culture history. The song deserves a place alongside of “Purple Haze” and “All Along the Watchtower.” It’s the sort of brilliance that’ll inspire guitarists for years or make them never want to pick the thing up ever again.
The blues jam instrumental “Crash Landing,” is another standout recording. We hear an introspective and jazzy Jimi, against the smooth and at times brilliantly agitated drumming of Mitch Mitchell.
Some of the songs, “Villanova Junction Blues,” and “Gypsy Boy,” sound like the late night jams they are and still reveal so much about the artist and the man. Still eager to play after the clubs had closed and wanting to capture what he was feeling, Hendrix would disappear into the confines of his beloved Electric Lady studio, leaving behind these masterful sketches. They hint at what more was to possibly come. Let us be thankful for this release, treating the legend with the dignity his skills deserve.