Jimi Hendrix: he’s considered to be one of the most influential guitarists to ever walk the face of the Earth.
In his short time here, he spawned three revolutionary and highly praised studio albums, ‘Are You Experienced,’ ‘Axis: Bold As Love,’ and ‘Electric Ladyland:’ all three of which proudly showcased Jimi’s tempestuous guitar playing and masterful use of effects and unrivaled songwriting.
Unfortunately Jimi was untimely taken away from us at the age of 27 years old. One can only imagine how many other masterpieces he would have gone on to grace the world with, had he only had more time.
But being the passionate music genius that Hendrix was, he seemed to never stop writing and recording new music, and left behind not only those three iconic records, but a library filled with unreleased demos and songs. Following Jimi’s death, this library has been continuously tapped into time and time again, allowing for multiple posthumous albums to be released over the years.
Now a new collection of unreleased tracks has just been released. The new record, titled ‘People, Hell and Angels,’ marks the 12th posthumous release in the Hendrix library shows Jimi Hendrix beginning to move into several additional, more expansive genres of music, while also continuing to masterfully tackle his signature blues rock style.
Now, after listening to the instant classic “Earth Blues,” one distinct feature I immediately noticed with this release is that these newly released songs don’t sound like 40 year old demos, but instead like fresh new compositions. This is mostly thanks to renowned producer Eddie Kramer, who went back and revisited these tracks to be included for this release.
Next up we have another throwback sounding track, the lead single “Somewhere”, which fits in perfectly with something you’d expect off of ‘Are You Experienced’. Staggering chord patterns and perfectionistic vocals as always from Jimi, and so far it seems like another stereotypical album from the guitar legend.
But, let’s face it. Had Jimi had more time here in this world, he wouldn’t have kept producing dynamic, heavily blues rock influenced records. He would have expanded into different genres of music, and reshaped them with his own unique style. Luckily ‘People, Hell and Angels’ gives us a small taste of Jimi’s takes on some more expansive musical styles.
“Let Me Move Into You” has Jimi stepping away from the microphone and solely manning lead guitar duties, while legend Lonnie Youngblood gives a gritty vocal performance and some captivating saxophone playing. Then we have “Mojo Man”, a fast paced jazz-influenced tune which showcases some bold brass playing, and once again has Jimi stepping away from the mic while Albert Allen lays down some flirtatious lyric lines.
For a further look inside the history of the songs included in ‘People, Hell and Angels’, we can take a look inside the colorful booklet, which not only goes full depth into the story behind these smashups and collaborations, but also includes some rare photos of Jimi from the Hendrix family.
Time and time again I was delightfully surprised by this release. Between the downright fantastic music, to the production quality and the attention to detail, this new album is something any established Hendrix fan should easily be able to get into and passionately enjoy time and time again. According to Eddie Kramer, this will be final album to include previously unreleased Jimi Hendrix recordings, which to me is a shame considering how great ‘People, Hell and Angels’ turned out.
But it only solidifies the point that renowned music critic Dave Marsh gave regarding Jimi’s first studio album; “There may be music greater than the music here, but we will have to journey where Jimi went untimely before us to hear it.”