Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Album Review

     Are You Experienced is the debut album by English/American rock band The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Chas Chandler, the producer of the group, formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966 with Hendrix as lead vocals and electric guitar, Mitch Mitchell on drums, and Noel Redding on bass. Are You Experienced was released in the UK in May 1967, and held #2 on the British charts for eight months behind the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. However, it was not until after their 1967 performance at Monterey Music festival that his American and Canadian label prepared the album for release, but with some significant changes. These changes include a new album cover, and replacement of some tracks. When the album was finally released in August 1967, the new lineup-proved hugely influential with the album peaking at #5 and remaining on Billboard's album chart for two years. The Jimi Hendrix Experiences' first album highlights Hendrix's R&B voice along with psychedelic, disorienting electric guitar. After the release of this album Hendrix was launched into stardom.

The Songs
The first track, Purple Haze, is a perfect example of a typical psychedelic drug song of the 60s. The song starts off with heavy guitar chords, known as the Hendrix chord, which eventually increase in tempo and blends with the bass and drums. While Hendrix claims that he wrote this track as a love song and the lyric, "Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me" is key to understanding the songs message; most believe the song is referring to the effects of LSD, commonly referred to as purple haze. However, this link between love and drugs is also addressed in Are You Experienced?, and the beautifully disorienting Love or Confusion:
My mind is so messed up
Goin' round and round
Must there be all the colours
Without names, without sound, baby?
My heart burns with feeling, but,
My mind, it's cold and reeling
Is this love baby,
Or is it confusion?
Hey Joe, one of Hendrix's folk inspired songs tells of his conversation with a man named Joe whom we discovered has just shot his wife after discovering her infidelity. Hendrix expresses his concern for his friend Joe and advises him to run to Mexico where he'll be safe from the law. By the end of the song, Joe agrees and departs. This song is cool because Hendrix provides dialogue from the two men having the conversation over a mellow, steady harmony.

Foxey Lady is known for its' guitar riff, and is one of Hendrix's first uses of feedback in a recording studio. The song is merely Hendrix's reaction to seeing and confronting an attractive woman. Personally, I do not find this to be an impressive song, especially lyrically.

One of Hendrix's prettiest songs is believed to have been written after getting into a fight with his girlfriend at the time. The Wind Cries Mary can best be characterized as a psychedelic blues song that tells of the pain felt after losing a loved one. The infamous guitar riff of this song was inspired by one of Hendrix's idols, Curtis Mayfield. This track and Highway Chile, an autobiographic track depicting Hendrix's pursuit of the American Dream, were both rereleased in 1983.
My 3rd favorite song by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, May this be Love, is also featured on this album. This slow, optimistic, pleasant song is about the euphoria one experiences when in love and truly finds bliss. Hendrix describes the beauty of the world and his love, occasionally disrupted by quirky chords. His guitar solo towards the end is gorgeous, I find myself lost in a daydream whenever it comes on. Without a doubt, this song is worth listening to.
On the other hand, there are also songs like Manic Depression and I Don't Live Today that are more pessimistic and depressing. Although there is no known facts surrounding Hendrix's mental health status, these songs certainly express some sort of angst. This feeling of despair is articulated in the following lyrics from I Don't Live Today:
Will I live tomorrow?
Well, I just can't say
But I know for sure
I don't live today
No sun comin' through my windows
Feel like I'm livin' at the bottom of a grave
Stone Free, the first song Hendrix ever wrote, can also be found on this album. Unlike most of the Experience's songs, this track featured Hendrix playing in standard tuning. The lyrics of the song reflect Hendrix's way of life and his desire to be completely free.

An almost completely blues song off of this album is Red House. Out of all of his recordings, this track is the most traditional in form and sound. This slow tune tells of a very common theme in blues songs: the singer's woman no longer loves him and has moved. It's a great example of Hendrix's early work.

The longest track on this record also has the least amount of comprehended lyrics. Third Stone from the Sun refers to the Earth, since it is the third planet from the sun. In an attempt to make space sounds from Star trek, the song includes slowed down dialogue between Hendrix and Chandler. Hendrix even goes on to make a commentary on the modern generation's music from an aliens' point of view:
  Although your world wonders me,
With your majestic and superior cackling hen
Your people I do not understand,
So to you I shall put an end
And you'll
Never hear
Surf music again 
51st Anniversary is a very funky, straightforward tune where Hendrix first uses overdubs. It tells the story of a decaying marriage that ends in infidelity and heartache. Towards the end of the song Hendrix expresses that he is not ready to be married and wishes only be free, and able to live.
The Experience tackles the struggles in relationships yet again in the song Can You See Me? The lyrics of the song suggest a theme of repressed emotions and the inability to communicate with each other, which often leads to the downfall in relationships. This theme appears again in the song Remember. In this song Hendrix is speaking to a woman, trying to remind her of how good life was when they were together. Since they broke up, everything seems to have turned bad or disappeared completely, so he promises to change for her.
The last of the songs on the Are You Experienced album is Fire. Out of all of The Experiences songs, this has to be the most sexual, straightforward, rock song. I best know this song because it was the song Hendrix was playing when he first lit his guitar on fire in 1967.

Seeing as how I believe Jimi Hendrix is one of the best things to happen to rock and roll I would definitely recommend everyone to listen to it. Although people recognize The Experience as a psychedelic rock group, most do not know of his folk and blues background. This R&B edge in his voice makes him a truly remarkable musician. Not to mention he had unfathomable skill when it came to playing the electric guitar! This album (seeing as how it is his first) is the perfect place to start exploring their sound. Jimi Hendrix is such a notable name in the world of music that to deprive yourself of his music would be a disgrace.


  1. Jahneece, this album review is done very well and you have a great writing style. I found it interesting that Jimi Hendrix wrote folk and blues music. Your final paragraph really convincing and makes me want to listen to the album.

  2. Jahneece, I always love reading your blogs because there is so much personality that comes through them. I really love the font of your blog and how you put the titles of the songs in bold. You included lyrics at good areas and they fit in really well to your post. I like how you went on to further mention his girlfriend and idol and included information about both. Keep up the great work!

  3. I think this album was very well covered Jahneece, nicely done! I felt as if you had a great amount of detail for each song and I also liked how you were able to compare and contrast many of the themes and messages of the songs.

  4. Super blog post as usual, Jahneece. There are a few typos, but this was informative and had a good glimpse at your personality and likes and dislikes. Good work!

  5. I think this is great. I have listened to this album before and I think it is genius. I did not know the history behind the creation of the album and how it came to the states and this a nice summary of how that happened.