Think about it. How is it that new recordings can still be coming from an artist who has been dead for more than 42 years?
It isn't unusual for a band or artist to record more songs at one time than will fit on a single album, and for the tracks not used to appear on future albums. But how can it be that there have been three times as many original Jimi Hendrix studio albums released since he died as were released while he was alive?
It boils down to who Hendrix was and how he approached his music. He was invested in his music as an artist, and also as a producer. He would record several takes of the same song, trying different arrangements, experimenting, jamming, looking for a new approach, listening for the perfect fit for a particular album. And he recorded practically everything. Every take, every outtake, jam sessions, rehearsals, everything except singing in the shower, apparently.
Hendrix's first single, "Hey Joe" was released in 1966. His final studio album, Electric Ladyland was issued in 1968, two years before his death. But because he rarely performed, either in the studio or in concert, without tape recorders rolling, Hendrix amassed enough material in those four short years to fill nine original albums released post-mortem, in addition to the three produced while he was alive.
Good news, bad news
Okay, let's get the bad news out of the way first. People Hell and Angels is IT -- the supply of studio recordings Hendrix made has finally been tapped out. That vault is empty. The good news is that there are still recordings of live performances that haven't been (but will be) released, according to Eddie Kramer, the guy who engineered all of Hendrix's studio recordings, and many of his live concert performances. (Kramer also co-produced People, Hell and Angels.) All of the 12 tracks on the album were recorded in 1968 and 1969, but you would never know it judging by the superb quality of the production and engineering on this release.
This album is especially well suited to those of us who believe there's no such thing as too much Hendrix. If you're worried about hearing what you've already heard on other Hendrix album, don't. These versions are so unique, so different from the original releases that I never once felt I was hearing something I'd heard many times before.
There's history here, for you hardcore Hendrix history fans. We hear on this album the first recording sessions done by the lineup that was to become Band of Gypsies -- Hendrix, bass guitarist Billy Cox, and drummer Buddy Miles. On one track, we also hear Stephen Stills on bass.
There's a theme
Two influences pervade all of the tracks on People, Hell and Angels. It is obvious that Hendrix, Cox and Miles were, at their core, bluesmen, and it's heavily seasoned with a large infusion of good old fashioned funk. The result is a cohesive sound throughout, namely, funky blues.
I thought about contrasting the differences between the versions on this album, and the versions that were originally released, but I decided that if you're going to listen to the album, you should listen to it without all that baggage, and hear the differences for yourself.
If you are new to Hendrix, I wouldn't recommend this as the first album you should have. Start with the three studio albums and two live albums released while Hendrix was still with us. If you are anywhere between a longtime casual fan and a fanatical worshiper, I highly recommend this addition to your Hendrix collection.
1. "Earth Blues"
3. "Hear My Train a Comin'"
4. "Bleeding Heart"
5. "Let Me Move You"
7. "Easy Blues"
8. "Crash Landing"
9. "Inside Out"
10. "Hey Gypsy Boy"
11. "Mojo Man"
12. "Villanova Junction Blues"
Release date March 5, 2013, available on CD and MP3
Disclosure: A review copy of the CD was provided by Experience Hendrix/Legacy Recordings. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.