Second of two in a row from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, this one coming from Electric Ladyland, their third and last proper outing, and even that’s somewhat confused. With 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) about as far and deep and abstract as any Hendrix recording would ever go – the unit here being Mr. Hendrix (doubling up on bass as well as guitar) and Mitch Mitchell (drums), with Traffic’s Chris Wood throwing in on flute (and the studio techs, of course — Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren, take a bow). All in aid of an epic investigation of oceans at least as deep as the human mind and soul, touching on themes of crisis, apocalypse, transcendence, the earth’s dry land abandoned, a return to the sea embraced, mermaids, Atlantis even. And superb it all is, the very best music being not unlike an ocean with depths beyond imagining. It’s possible that psychedelic drugs were involved.
“The first Jimi Hendrix album Are You Experienced? is, of course, overflowing with miracles, particularly when viewed from the moment it hit, and hit it did. Words still fail, so just call it all superlative noise, I guess, and move on and up and in and out and every imaginable way (and more). Except first I must single out Third Stone From The Sun for being the one miracle that has endured the best, the furthest – for me anyway. Because holy f***ing something or other, it does grasp fabulous realms. Just three guys working a groove all mixed up with feedback and manipulations which isn’t anything that hasn’t been attempted a billion times since, except well, maybe I should give this to my neighbour Motron. ‘It’s surf music, is what it is. At least, that’s how I misinterpreted Jimi’s mumbling way back when. Now I know he was saying we’d never hear surf music again, because he’d heard that Dick Dale was dying (he wasn’t, but he was fighting cancer at the time). But that took years to get straight and in the meantime, that’s where I was going with Third Stone – hearing it as Jimi’s take on the cosmic imagining that allows for things like big bangs, universes, galaxies, solar systems, suns, various stones revolving accordingly, and on the third of these, waves, impossible manifestations of all this order that, if your skills are up, your timing is right, you can ride them. Which is what he was doing with his guitar, abstract, fierce, grounded in the blues, gunning for eternity. Or something like that.'”. (Philip Random)
There are two Voodoo Chiles on Jimi Hendrix‘s four-sided masterpiece Electric Ladyland, the second one (the Slight Return) being the one everybody’s heard perhaps too many times (even if it is full-on genius). But the first version which takes up the bulk of side one – that still sounds as fresh and immediate as the fifteen minutes or so in which it originally came to be. Stevie Winwood‘s the guy that dropped in to groove away on the Hammond organ in what amounted to pretty much a free jam. As for the rhythm section, that seems to have been the Experience’s Mitch Mitchell and Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady who just happened to be hanging around. It was that kind of scene, that kind of album.
The Solid Time of Change is our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Twenty-Seven of the journey went as follows:
- Santana – A1 funk, every step of the way
- Jesus Christ Superstar Original London Cast – heaven on their minds
- Jimi Hendrix – third stone from the sun
- Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – earth hymn [1+2]
- Elton John – Madman Across the Water
- Klaatu – around the universe in eighty days
- FM – one o’clock tomorrow
- Agitation Free – you will play for us today
- Agitation Free – Khan el Khalili
- Agitation Free – Ala Tul
- Magma – de futura
It’s been half a century since the Jimi Hendrix Experience dropped its debut album onto the world, but words still fail. Yet you gotta try anyway, so call Manic Depression pure truth in advertising. Even if it was sung in Gaelic, you’d know it was about the world just not being quick enough for the man’s psychedelic soul. Or perhaps the other way around.