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Jimi Hendrix The Ultimate Experience album cover
3.26 | 24 ratings | 3 reviews | 21% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. All Along the Watchtower
2. Purple Haze
3. Hey Joe
4. The Wind Cries Mary
5. Angel
6. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
7. Foxey Lady
8. Burning of the Midnight Lamp
9. Highway Chile
10. Crosstown Traffic
11. Castles Made of Sand
12. Long Hot Summer Night
13. Red House
14. Manic Depression
15. Gypsy Eyes
16. Little Wing
17. Fire
18. Wait Until Tomorrow
19. The Star Spangled Banner (Live)
20. Wild Thing (Live)

Line-up / Musicians

Thanks to chicapah for the addition
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JIMI HENDRIX The Ultimate Experience ratings distribution

(24 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JIMI HENDRIX The Ultimate Experience reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chicapah
3 stars I can't say I'm a big fan of "greatest hits" packages but when I survey my collection of CDs and LPs I find more of them than I can account for so they must hold a certain appeal to me, I suppose. When it comes to judging the merits of the "best of" species I find that quantity usurps quality more often than not and the fact that this collection has no less than 20 nuggets of varying caliber is a veritable peacock feather in its cap. A quick perusal of the most well known internet music vendors informs me that this particular package is no longer in print but some of you proggers who yearn to possess a decent overview of the short but spectacularly influential career of Jimi Hendrix might happen to come across "The Ultimate Experience" in a used CD shop located in a seedy part of town someday and hold it up for consideration. If so I urge you to take advantage of the moment and part with your loose bills and spare change without hesitation. It'll be a wise investment.

Since I've already aired my opinions of most of these songs within the confines of the reviews I've posted regarding their respective albums, I'll conceitedly share dubious tidbits of useless information I've gathered and stored in my brain box over the years for each entry. Footnotes and sources are available upon request.

"All Along the Watchtower" - Jimi first heard this Bob Dylan ditty while attending a Tupperware party being held by Traffic's Dave Mason in January '68 and became wholly smitten with it on the spot. He kidnapped Mason and, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and the not-long-for-this-world Rolling Stone Brian Jones serving as casual observer, went into the studio that very evening and created this enigmatic version. However, due to Jimi's reverence for what he considered a Dylan masterwork, he wouldn't allow it to be released as a single for 10 more months. Why does it endure to this day? Hendrix's passionate vocal delivery of the esoteric words and the inspired variety of guitar solos he graces the tune with from beginning to end.

"Purple Haze" - The opening cut from his debut and best album. Jimi wrote the trippy lyrics in the dressing room of the Upper Cut Club in London the day after Christmas '66 and two weeks later hummed the riffs to Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding in the studio before recording it. They got it on the third take.

"Hey Joe" - The first inkling the public got that "something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?" as Hendrix's haunting voice and primal guitar playing slithers out of the speakers like some kind of menacing serpent. A garage band called The Leaves had made a dent in the U.S. charts with their manic interpretation of this revenge-filled song but it was Jimi that bared its callous soul. Taped on October 23, 1966 it was released that December and put Hendrix and Co. on the map immediately.

"The Wind Cries Mary" - On January 11, 1967 Hendrix showed this to Mitch and Noel. Six minutes later it was done. While producer Chas Chandler deemed it too ragged and had them re-cut the track weeks later they were never able to capture the power and feel of the original. Written about a knock-down, drag-out quarrel with his girlfriend in which she hit him with a frying pan. So much for deep, mystical meanings.

"Angel" - A critically injured survivor of the doomed "Cry of Love" sessions that painfully points out Hendrix's growing lack of interest in producing tight tracks and a polished product. By this juncture Jimi was recording using whatever pals he happened to be partying with at the moment (in this case Steven Stills) and, despite the fact that it ain't too shabby a tune, the sloppiness makes it darn near unlistenable.

"Voodoo Child (slight return)" - About as subtle as a Sherman tank at the battle front, this Delta blues- on-steroids assault on the senses is everything that made the world's guitarists of that age involuntarily rise and salute Mr. Hendrix. "I stand up next to a mountain/and chop it down with the edge of my hand." he announced boldly. And every one of us believed him.

"Foxey Lady" - Yeah, yeah, it's overplayed, but so is "How Sweet It Is." Which would you rather hear? A tired Motown hit or a masterpiece of hard rock with a guitar lead that still stings like a provoked hornet? I thought so. By the way, Jimi claimed that this was the only "happy" song he ever penned.

"Burning of the Midnight Lamp" - A killer gem culled from the uneven "Electric Ladyland" album. Here Hendrix's progressive tendencies are on full display as he creatively experiments with combining wah- wah guitar and a harpsichord. The result is unreservedly unique.

"Highway Chile" - A rockin' autobiographical look back at his dues-paying years spent touring the dives of the Deep South as an axe-slinger for hire that served as the B-side of the 45 rpm disc of "The Wind Cries Mary." Nothing special but not a drag, either.

"Crosstown Traffic" - This barnburner of a radio-friendly single kicks like a mule and never lets up. It has a palpable electric feel that's undeniable. Tastes like copper. Jimi wrote the lyrics about the groupies who literally threw themselves at his feet and then wondered why he used them, cast them aside and moved on.

"Castles Made of Sand" - The guitar playing is obviously brilliant and the backwards solo is exceptional but the convoluted, pseudo-philosophical lyrics seem forced and somewhat pretentious to my ears. Close but no cigar.

"Long Hot Summer Night" - An example of what made "Electric Ladyland" such a mixed bag. This song about waiting for his woman to call on the phone is as lame as that tired premise and just as satisfying. This one has filler written all over it. Skip it.

"Red House" - This is what happened when he was allowed to crank his Marshall amp up to 11 and let his blues upbringing run free. Not prog in the least but with Echoplex-assisted guitar licks this hot who gives a turtle turd? Just sit back, crack a grin for Hendrix's sly attitude and play your air guitar for all it's worth.

"Manic Depression" - Pure, progressive rock from the get-go. Completely riff-driven with nary a chord in sight, this one demonstrates fully why Mitch Mitchell was the perfect match for Jimi's intensity and unorthodox writing style.

"Gypsy Eyes" - Another one of those odd numbers off of "Electric Ladyland" that just can't maintain the excitement generated by its infectious beginning. The clumsy verses just bog down the momentum. A shame, really. It could have been amazing.

"Little Wing" - Guitarists still drool over Hendrix's mastery of the instrument. This beautiful tune was written for the sweet, unassuming young ladies he observed hovering on the periphery but that he knew his rebellious type could never have. This is the kind of unexpected detour that made Jimi defy explanation.

"Fire" - New Years Eve, 1966 and The Experience didn't have a gig. Redding finds one at the last minute at the Hillside Social Club in his hometown of Folkestone. Afterwards they drive to Noel's mum's house in the freezing cold. Upon arrival Hendrix pleads "let me stand next to your fire" but a German Shepherd named Rover stands in the way. Sometimes life writes the songs for you. It's Mitch that sets the track ablaze, though.

"Wait Until Tomorrow" - One of my favorites from the "Axis - Bold As Love" LP. Clean as a whistle and a rare glimpse into Jimi's clever sense of humor.

"The Star Spangled Banner" - What could've been branded as being brazenly disrespectful and/or hypocritical was such a heartfelt and passionate interpretation that it still stuns all who hear it into silent admiration. The consciousness of the planet was in flux and the way we viewed patriotism and duty to country was never to be the same and he totally captured the spiritual essence of the peace movement with this rendition of the national anthem. Few moments in musical history have as much significance as this virtuoso performance does and the fact that it's a live, one-time-only deal just heightens the effect.

"Wild Thing" - Listening to this legendary performance from the Monterey Pop Festival without the visuals is much like someone trying to describe the Grand Canyon without photos. You have to see it to believe it. In the case of Hendrix's stupefying delivery of this silly Troggs hit the raw soundtrack just turns into cacophony and doesn't convey the earth-shaking impact his bigger-than-life stage presence made. In other words, see the documentary instead.

Far from perfect but it'll do in a pinch. 3 stars.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There are myriads of Hendrix collections in the market. And whenever he had very good songs, and very weak songs as well, all collections are different. If you will decide to make your opinion about Hendrix music from one of the collection, you can make a big mistake. It will be a lottery.

Some years ago I bought a great Hendrix collection under the name "Blues" . OK, at least it was style frame stated on cover,but songs were great. "The Ultimate Experience" isn't so good one. You can find there some strong songs, many of very average songs, but all placed in chaotic order. So, if even some songs are good enough, total feeling after album listening is mixed and chaotic. Don't think it is reason to speak about separate songs: there are plenty of better collections on the market.

Album isn't so bad, but could be recommended only for purchase at low price.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is one of the better Jimi compilations out there. Before I had this when it first came out, the only other release I had from him was the US version of his first album. To most people this would be about all the Jimi they would need. You get all his most famous songs as well as his version of "Wild Thing" from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (the same festival where he famously lit his guitar on fire) and his version of "The Star Spangled Banner" from Woodstock. The collection leads off with Jimi's most famous reinterpretation: Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower." His version of "Hey Joe" is included but generally his own songs are much better. A few of the selections here are not really essential; some of them are more mediocre while others (like "Wait Until Tomorrow" featuring Robert Wyatt on backing vocals) are much better.

For prog fans, you are better off getting Electric Ladyland instead. Or even his first two albums. The influence of Hendrix spread far and wide across the rock music landscape, and not just his guitar playing innovation but also his studio innovations. He was one of the first to think of the recording studio as an instrument in itself. Not until New Wave and Disco ruled the airwaves in the late 1970s did people stop caring about Hendrix; but in the 1980s everyone from metal bands to Stevie Ray Vaughn kept his spirit alive. You may not think he had an influence on prog but there are few prog guitarists not influenced by him in some way. In fact, not only guitarists but people like Keith Emerson were influenced by Jimi's sense of showmanship; in some ways Emerson almost wanted to be the Hendrix of the Hammond.

Nothing very proggy here but a consistent collection with a lot of songs. It's like a Jimi jukebox as the songs are not in chronological order. You get all the songs played to death on radio plus some songs that are just as good but not as overplayed. Still, his albums are the way to go if you want to understand what this guy was about. A nice sample of Hendrix, good but not essential. 3 stars.

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