Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love

Without a doubt, this is my favorite Jimi Hendrix album, despite the many highlights from all of his other releases. This combines some of his best playing and songwriting in a consistent package. I have always loved the cover art, as well – a wonderful addition to the psychedelia held within!

This CD is another of the new remastered packages, with excellent sound, great booklet and ultra-cool DVD of the making of the album. I got this for under $10, so it is an amazing value for some of the best music you will ever hear in your lifetime!

This opens with a patented Jimi sound experiment in “EXP” as he replicates a UFO taking off, which then moves into the social commentary of “Up From the Skies”. This is a tale of aliens coming back to see what we’ve done with our species as we have “evolved” and not being highly impressed at the results. Here he shows how he can use wah-wah pedal as a rhythm tool and not simply as an addition to his solos.

“Spanish Castle Magic”, named for a club in his home town of Seattle, is a pounding explosion of chords that becomes a phenomenal tune, showing his strength as a composer. Of course, the soloing is beyond comparison here, also. His story-telling is highlighted on “Wait Until Tomorrow”, a tale of a jilted lover who becomes a victim of his lover’s father. Truly clever arrangements here and fine interaction between Jimi and Mitch.

More uncompromised energy in “Ain’t No Telling”, with cool changes from heavy rhythm to guitar/bass licks and more fine lyrics. Of course, the perfect piece from this record is the sublime “Little Wing”. Unbelievable melodic playing from Jimi – he truly revolutionalized the way that every guitarist played after he burst onto the scene – and one of the most beautiful songs of all time. This could not be better.

The anthem for long hairs everywhere became “If 6 was 9”, with its call to let your “freak flag fly” and not be brought down by the rudeness of the squares. Plenty of mind-blowing sounds phase back and forth through the speakers here, just for those who were stoned with head phones on! Truly spooky when he utters the unforgettable line “I’m the one who has to die when it’s time for me to die”!

The backwards guitar freak-outs continue in “You Got Me Floating”, another wild piece of high-energy psychedelia. Jimi weaves some more modern-age fables in “Castles Made of Sand” with three separate, clear-cut stories with the moral being that things can change from good to bad (or vice versa) in a moment, so we just have to live our lives. He truly mastered the reverse playing techniques on this album, and applies them again in this tune.

Mitch Mitchell starts off Noel Redding’s contribution to this record, “She’s So Fine”, with cool, repeating rolls and Hendrix provides some superb guitar lines to this pop number. More beauty is evident on “One Rainy Wish” – truly lovely guitar lines interweaving with the vocal melody before taking off into a hard rock riffer and then returning to the softer side. Back to the rock for “Little Miss Lover”, a simple (for him!) rhythmic r’n’r ode to the fairer sex.

The title track finishes this one with an epic tale of love and conquest with an amazing arrangement of impeccable guitar lines which he throws off seemingly effortlessly and a nice balance of soft to loud. It closes with the lead guitar taking off and blasting into the stratosphere. Magical!

Absolutely one of my top 5 albums of all time and I cannot imagine it ever being knocked off of that list! Essential to anyone who loves r’n’r and the electric guitar.