Thursday, November 22, 2007

Electric Ladyland 33-1/3 by John Perry

This is actually the first book of this series that I read and I wasn’t certain what I thought about it until I understood the format a little better. Now, reading it over again, I think that it is one of the better installments.

Opening with an explanation of Jimi’s career at the time of the recording, Perry immediately informs the reader of some of the limitations that Hendrix was overcoming at the time – musically and financially – and the fact that this album represented his artistic freedom for the first time in his short career. He finally had the time and the money to record as he wanted, when he wanted and with whom he wanted. John even goes into a couple of small technical details right off the bat – which is something that any musician will be interested in.

He then talks about the then-new technical advances in studios, as well as the fact that Hendrix was looking into working with other musicians to get other results, though he had no problem with using the studio to overdub himself in places when necessary.

Perry spends a couple of chapters giving an overall of Hendrix’s professional life, from his appearance in England (the author saw an early Experience show at a small ballroom before Jimi was hyped beyond reason) to one of his last shows (which the author also experienced) at the Isle of Wright. John does continue to give some insights into Jimi’s techniques and the equipment that he used throughout these stories. The combination of the personal with the technical is something that I can appreciate.

Perry, a guitarist himself, gives a run down on every track on the album, listing tricks, techniques and studio tools used throughout the record. He balances personal opinions and reflections with factual information, making it enjoyable to everyone – at least, I would think so! It certainly is entertaining to a fellow musician!

He details the musicians on each track – the Experience doesn’t play on a number of the cuts, especially Noel Redding, who was on the verge of quitting the band. There are mentions of earlier takes and even demos to show the growth of the song and sometimes John will mention the different amps or pedals that are being used. Great stuff!

I don’t want to get into specific detail about all of the songs, because Perry does a nice job of it all - I wouldn’t do it justice to try to condense it all. But, this book does do what I think this series should do – give the balance of subjective and objective with a fan’s enthusiasm.


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