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Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced CD (album) cover

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED

Jimi Hendrix

 

Proto-Prog

4.22 | 295 ratings

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Alitare
4 stars The world's first hard rock album! Turn it up!

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? (1967)

Best Song: PURPLE HAZE or FOXY LADY

Overall Rating: 10 (1997 Reissue) 12 (1967 original US LP pressing)

Note: This album review will be of the 1997 reissue, so I'll include a track listing to know exactly what I think of what you'd be getting.

Track listing: 1 - Foxy Lady; 2 - Manic Depression; 3 - Red House; 4 - Can You See Me?; 5 - Love Or Confusion; 6 - I Don't Live Today; 7 - May This Be Love; 8 - Fire; 9 - Third Stone From The Sun; 10 - Remember; 11 - Are You Experienced?; 12 - Hey Joe; 13 - Stone Free; 14 - Purple Haze; 15- 51st Anniversary; 16 - The Wind Cries Mary; 17 - Highway Chile

Well, this might not be the world's first hard rock album, but it's certainly the world's first hard rock album that actually mattered to anybody, and if you disagree with me, then you might just have been living under a rock for the past forty years or so. I hope your precious blue cheer records hold up under those conditions. For those of you who have any passing interest in rock music in the least, and don't own this, totally ignore anything in this here review, rush out and purchase the nearest copy of Are You Experienced, today! That's right, get it no matter what, because you need it.

That being said, it kind of sucks. Say what!?!?!? That's right, I don't think there's anything special about a good half of these tracks, and the reissued version increases the album's running time up to an hour. Now, before you all tar and feather me for blaspheming one of rock's most monolithic releases, from rock's undisputed guitar legend, let me ask you, buddy....are you experienced? Well, the answer is yes. You've probably heard ever one of these songs a million times on the radio, or with friends, or in countless films and television shows. So, coming from this time frame, most everyone will be very experienced with Jimi's debut. Which makes most any assessment of the man's music, well, kind of moot.

For the seven Swedish hermits that haven't heard this material, I s'pose I should describe it. It's all heavy-heavy overdriven blues fuzz blasted to the point of astral psychedelic energy. Which means, you have here 17 basic blues rock tunes, mixed with a bit of sonic exploration, and a whole lot of rampaging guitar. Solo after solo after riff after riff of some of the deadliest metallic fire in the whole damn 60's movement. And when you turn on the stereo, allowing that meat cleaver of a riff from Foxy Lady to erupt, this can seem like a trly magic experience, but the truth is, once the initial shock of the first few, ferocious tracks dies down, you're left with the record's middle stretch, which consists almost entirely of what I like to consider "electric blues mush", or Jimi's big mashed taters and cream mix. That's right, almost all of the energy gets sucked out after about halfway through. Sadly, the thing doesn't pick up until near the end with the mammoth hit "Purple Haze". Sure, the first five songs or so are all a fuzzy-metal gold mine, and worth the price of admission, anyway, but everything after :Love or Confusion" just drops the ball, and we get to fully realize what always hindered Hendrix and his backing band like no other. His lack of capabilities as a songwriter is his proverbial albatross around the neck.

That, and he's a very limited singer. Jimi is a one trick pony, and that pony is his flaming guitar. the less he relies on that, the weaker the songs become, until they eventually fall through, devoid of engaging substance. And smack dab in the middle of the collection, the songs instantly decide to ignore the guitar, almost completely. Things get softer, the riffs start sounding alike, and painfully simple, the energy levels drain and wither, and his trademark electric axe growl dissipates into the airy mesh of electric blues pudding. Yes, the radio hits are all a scream, but this collection is just too much.

If I have to really argue it, the gripes I have with the 1997 reissue are all basically eliminated with the original US LP pressing, which has 11 of the most enticing tracks in the whole session. It is, in my opinion, the definitive version of Are You Experienced, with almost none of the fat. Even so, radio staples like "Fire" or "The Wind Cries Mary" just don't grab me, and don't seem to have the inventiveness or energy of the wildly popular singles. But, even if you don't think this is up your alley, get it anyway, 'cause I said so. Just ignore the feeble singing and the lack of prominent songwriting abilities. It's all in the guitar, man. It's all in the guitar.

Alitare | 4/5 |

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