This Archival Hendrix Release Takes Us Way Deep Into “Electric Ladyland”

One disc of work sessions, just Jimi and a guitar, is spine-tinglingly intimate.

Album Review

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Electric Ladyland Deluxe Edition
Experience Hendrix/Legacy Recordings

The third and final studio album released by Jimi Hendrix in his lifetime, 1968’s Electric Ladyland, found the artist at a creative crossroads, moving away from the flashy theatrics that made him a star and exploring more subtle and experimental, and likely less commercial, approaches. This ambitious double LP covered a staggering amount of ground, from dreamy, extended pieces to hardcore blues to blazing rockers, all showcasing his restless guitar and underrated voice. “Electric Ladyland” still feels imperfect today. The jarring juxtaposition of styles and moods hampers the flow, but it’s an unforgettable declaration of intent, with dazzling highs and very few lows.

Containing three CDs and one Blu-ray, the deluxe edition provides a fascinating overview of this period of change. Along with one disc devoted to the original album, another offers a raucous, low-fi Hollywood Bowl concert from just a few weeks before Electric Ladyland’s release, which proved Hendrix and bandmates Noel Redding (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) could still bring the noise when the time was right. The Blu-ray includes a feature-length documentary on the making of the album and a new surround-sound mix for audio geeks.

The best thing about this enticing set, however, is the CD of early takes. Some are studio cuts guest-starring the likes of Stephen Stills, Al Kooper, and Buddy Miles. Others are fascinating work tapes recorded in a hotel room by Hendrix alone, with just voice and guitar. The intimacy of these versions is spine-tingling. A phone rings at one point, though the music continues; occasionally Hendrix can be heard turning pages as he plays, apparently reading lyrics as he sorts out this new material. A few songs, including “Long Hot Summer Night” and “Gypsy Eyes,” made the final cut of the album, while “Angel” and “My Friend” didn’t see the light of day until after his death.

Intended as a new beginning, not a parting statement, Electric Ladyland continues to surprise and intrigue today.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate