ARE YOU EXPERIENCED
RELEASED: 12TH MAY 1967
We didn’t win the lottery. Again (sigh). However, we are pleased as punch that the Heritage Lottery Fund put money in the pot for the £2.4m restoration of a certain flat at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair. The home of one James Marshall Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix, brought over in late 1966 by Chas Chandler, was an instant success and was on the cusp of a very fertile creative period that centred on his time in London. The Experience was in full bloom, and the flat he bought was a magnet for musicians. What really drew his attention though, was the fact that it’s next door to Handel’s old gaff. That’s a lot of amazing vibes stored up.
It was bought after Are You Experienced, and around the time of Electric Ladyland, but Experienced has it all: the development of his sound that blended rock and blues, psych, R&B and even introduced us to the primal elements of heavy metal. One note, shredded in vibrato, opens the first tune and sets the tone for the album, on Foxy Lady. It’s frenzied, urgent and sexy, and punctuated with a riff that’s simple, heavy and hooks you immediately. But, guitar shredding aside it’s Mitchell and Redding’s lolloping, ten-ton heavy rhythms that set the pace.
Manic Depression is an uptempo track, contrary to its title. It has a jazz swing to it again, thanks to Mitchell and Redding’s drums and bass. Red House brings his love of blues (in this case, 12 bar) to the fore, and has been covered many, many times. Can You See Me uses blues motifs, especially in the lyrics, but it’s the stonking riffage, and stop (and note bend) before asking the titular refrain that shows us his innovative streak to take something old, and make it new. Love our Confusion is out and out psych, from the lyrics to the effects. It’s hard not to keep coming back to Mitchell’s drumming though. Jazz influenced, heavy as fook. Hendrix may have inspired millions of guitarists (and will continue to) but without him and similar skin-bashers, we wouldn’t have had the rich base to sample from, for Hip Hop. It’s all about the breaks.
I Don’t Live Today should come with a fire hazard warning for his guitar pyrotechnics. May This Be Love sees Jimi in mellow mode. Chas won on this one, getting him to turn the amp down. Rolling tom-toms and almost shimmery tone make it an under-sea odyssey. Fire has been covered by bands as diverse as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Those Darn Accordions. Third Stone from the Sun is a trippy number that isn’t a traditional ‘song’ but has Jimi talking over an instrumental. His and Chas Chandler’s voice are pitched down for some sci-fi dialogue. Far out indeed. Remember is a gorgeous, simple sounding rhythm that just keeps riffing. Apparently, it was never plated live, or in the studio again. Are You Experienced is a fitting close to the album, deftly weaving all his sonic tricks, lyrical majesty and influences into a heavy psych tune that’s almost transcendent.
We picked Experienced for this Throwback Thursday because it’s a perfect album. It’s got the hits. It still sounds completely original (often imitated since). Classic doesn’t do it justice. So, as is TT’s MO, take a trip to listening-to-a-whole-album lane and just let it run. Follow us on Spotify for great music and playlists.