Jimi rolls out new rock album
If there were any doubts about the lingering force of fabled rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix more than four decades after his death, his latest single should put them to rest.
The single Somewhere went to No 1 on the Billboard Hot Singles chart last month. That bodes well for the latest posthumous album plucked from the Hendrix musical vaults, which producers say has stood up well to the test of time.
People, Hell and Angels, to be released on CD tomorrow, is billed as a collection of 12 previously unreleased studio performances by Hendrix, though some of the songs have emerged in other versions since his death in London at the age of 27 in 1970 from what is believed to have been an accidental drug overdose.
The album arrives with the simultaneous release of newly struck mono vinyl editions of early Hendrix classic albums Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love.
The tracks on People, Hell and Angels were planned as a follow-up to the influential guitarist's chart-topping 1968 album Electric Ladyland.
"After the huge success of the [Jimi Hendrix] Experience and those first albums, he wanted to branch out more and the blues sound on this is different from the others," said Janie Hendrix, Jimi's step-sister and president and CEO of Experience Hendrix, the company founded by the musician's father to oversee the star's estate.
"This new album is very important for all his fans because it showcases his creativity and a different side to him," she said.
Feeling constrained by the limitations of the Jimi Hendrix Experience trio (which included drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding), the guitarist had started working with an eclectic group of musicians.
They included Buffalo Springfield's Stephen Stills, drummer Buddy Miles, saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood and bassist Billy Cox, with whom Hendrix had served in the US military.
The resulting sessions, culled from 1968 and 1969, form the basis of People, Hell and Angels, co-produced by Janie Hendrix, original engineer and mixer Eddie Kramer and long-time Hendrix historian John McDermott.
"[Hendrix] saw right away that guys like Buddy Miles and Billy Cox, with whom he later formed Band of Gypsys, brought a new approach and sound to his songs and music. And Jimi was always very free creatively. He wasn't afraid to serve the song," said McDermott.
"Working in the studio was a totally different palette for him compared with playing live," he said.
"He could experiment with extra percussion, an additional guitar, organ - whatever he felt the track needed."
Though those tracks, which include such titles as Earth Blues , Baby Let Me Move You and Izabella , are now 45 years old, the audio quality is superb because nothing beats analogue tape for enduring sound quality.
The new album is the latest in a slew of posthumous albums, films, tribute tours and books that far outnumber the three studio albums he released in his four-year career at the top.
"He's a timeless artist and the technology's finally caught up to what he was trying to do musically," Janie Hendrix said.