on 24 January 2012
Before I get started with this review it's worth mentioning an interesting mastering quirk with Axis Bold As Love on CD. The original US CD release on Reprise and all of the subsequent US/European digital remasterings (Polydor, MCA, Experience Hendrix, Sony etc.) have used the same mix of the album as the original vinyl LP. But the original Polydor CD pressing (Polydor 813 5722) uses an *alternate* mix, only one song of which (the title track) has the same mix as that found on all the other discs. Across the rest of that CD the mixing differences with panning choices and reverb/phasing effects etc range from the subtle to the obvious. So that's something to bear in mind for the serious Hendrix fan or collector.
Ok, with that piece of info out of the way I'll get on with my review of Axis Bold As Love.
Coming on the heels of the incredibly cohesive collection of songs which formed Are You Experienced, I've always felt Axis Bold As Love to have something of a half-completed and rushed vibe about it. Which seems oddly paradoxical given the amount of work with overdubs and psychedelic effects which Hendrix and the band clearly put into this material!
The main problem for me is the short length of a number of the songs. Half of the tracks on the album come in at under 3 minutes, with one not even hitting the 2 minute mark. And unlike the previous album there's a distinct lack of guitar solos, the inclusion of which would have seriously improved these shorter songs.
But here's the BIG trade-off; What you lose with this album from an AYE instrumentalist standpoint, you gain from Hendrix upping his game as a songwriter. It's more than clear that with Axis Bold As Love that he was putting his pounding riffs and shrieking solos to one side in a concerted effort to focus on chord-based song construction. And he succeeds excellently within that realm, let down only (I believe) by the contractual rush to deliver this album on time. Had he played around with this material for another couple of months, doubtless the end result would have been a far more cohesive and rewarding listening experience.
Don't take that to mean this is a bad album. It's just that in comparison to AYE, released only 6 months earlier, this is a vast leap into a new direction. A couple of tracks here do sound like direct extensions of AYE material (Spanish Castle Magic and If Six Was Nine), but the rest is cut from a very different cloth. It's mellower, it's funkier, it's distinctly more complex and thoughtful in construction. It's actually a radical change in tone given the short gap between the two albums. Most bands tend to develop in this fashion over a period of years, not months.
Yet despite the fresh complexity of Hendrix's sound upon this album, I've always been most fascinated by what is possibly its most basic song, Little Miss Lover. The heavy Funk of this track predates by a number of years anything similar composed by James Brown. And James Brown was of course the man who invented Funk. I can't think of a single example of James Brown hitting a groove of this style until his 1972 album, There It Is. For all the talk common to Hendrix of Blues and Jazz, more respect really is due towards his Funky side.
One major advantage this album has over AYE is the quality of sound. AYE was recorded on 4-track equipment in quite a primitive studio environment, so consequently suffered an odd stereo mix which through headphones often comes across more as strange mono/stereo hybrid of mixing choices (all the instruments piled into the centre except the guitar off to the side etc). Axis was recorded using superior 8-track equipment, which allowed the mix to be easily spread across the fully available stereo spectrum. The overall fidelty is also miles better than that found on AYE due to the improved studio surroundings.
There are a couple of moments on Axis though which are prone to leave the listener wondering "What the heck what Hendrix thinking?!".
The first of these is obvious, the albums' opening piece, EXP. This is essentially a minute and a half of mindless directionless guitar noise, static and feedback, supposedly emulating the sound of a UFO taking off. Now, Hendrix was skilled in the art of handling feedback, the evidence for which resides across a multitude of his live recordings. But the noise created here could have been made by anyone with an electric guitar and an overloaded stack of amps. It's "interesting" to hear the first time you play the album, after which it really sticks out as an annoyance. It would have worked better tagged on to the end.
The second annoyance is the flute which randomly and completely tunelessly whistles away over the top of everything else for the final minute and a half of If Six Was Nine. There's some great guitar work going on at the end of this track, ruined by that squawking distraction. Obviously Jimi thought it was a good laugh, but it's a joke that wears thin very quickly.
So, how would I rate this album as a whole? Well, taking into account those couple of annoyances and the unfinished/underthought feel of a number of the tracks I'm going to give it a 4 star rating.
To my mind the moments of genius, skill and newfound compositional maturity evident upon this album, of which there are *many*, are simply not consistent or unified enough to pull the *entire* body of work up to a 5.
I've previously rated Are You Experienced as a 5, and that is a far more rudimentary album on many levels. But it is also a far more consistent whole. So, 4 stars for Axis.
on 2 April 2002
Unfairly consigned to the history books as the follow-up to "Are You Experienced?" and little else, "Axis: Bold as Love" is actually an eclectic and electrifying album. It shows Jimi and his Experience consolidating upon the sonic battery of their first outing, and delving back to Jimi's days on the chitlin' circuit in the USA, playing tough soul to tough crowds.
Jimi's endearingly silly sci-fi preoccupations are to the fore on the ridiculous "EXP" and jazzy "Up From the Skies", and the aforementioned soul excursions are best represented on the funky "Little Miss Lover". Bassist Noel Redding gets his own number on the dated-but-enjoyable "She's So Fine", but there's no stealing Jimi's thunder on material which ranges from the beautiful "Little Wing" and "Castles Made of Sand" to the hard, hard rock of "Spanish Castle Magic".
Placed within the Hendrix canon, this album is as unique and vital as all the rest, paving the way for the Experience's finest hour, "Electric Ladyland". This, then, remains our only snapshot of the Experience together as a cohesive whole, enthused by their first taste of real success, and working as a tight and efficient studio-based unit. More importantly, though, this is a superb record, and one every rock fan should have in their collection.
on 7 April 2000
"Axis:Bold as Love" was made at a time of great anticipation for Hendrix fans. "Are you Experienced" had been released months before to great critical acclaim and almost everybody was looking forward to hendrix's next oddysey, "Axis Bold As Love". They weren't dissapointed. The press loved it and so did the public. Songs like "Spanish Castle Magic" captured their ears while songs like "Little wing" captured their hearts. Although this album is inferior to "Are You Experienced" and "Electric Ladyland", it is still a superb album that will make you want to hear as much as you can from this great musician!
on 10 March 2010
When I first saw that Jimi Hendrix's catalogue was going to be revamped in 2010, I was suitably intrigued. The previous CDs were pretty good already and so I thought that this latest batch were really going to be something special. However, the eventual results are rather underwhelming.
My three star rating for AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE is my average score for this particular reissue, rather than the album as a whole. AXIS has always been my favourite Hendrix album and so I decided that this would be the one out of all these new editions I would purchase first. The lack of bonus material will undoubtedly disappoint many fans. I think it would have been interesting to have included the original LP's rare mono mix in with the package alongside the more familiar stereo version, while despite the documentary DVD including some brand new footage of engineer Eddie Kramer at his explanatory best discussing some - but frustratingly not all - of the AXIS tracks, the over-familiar footage included of manager Chas Chandler, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell (all now sadly no longer with us) now seems almost as old as the album itself! At least though the original gatefold sleeve design has been reproduced in its correct format on the cover of the inlay booklet, even if not on the cover of the digipak itself.
As with one of the previous reviewers, if I hadn't bought AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE before I would be pretty chuffed with this release, as it looks and sounds great, but ardent fans of Jimi Hendrix are undoubtedly going to feel short-changed.
Let's get one thing straight first, the above score is not for the album but for the package. The album is a true five star album, a classic that shows Jimi's skills as a songwriter as well as a guitarist. I'd recommend the album to anyone with a love for classic rock music. No, I've given it two stars because this is a right royal rip off. I previously had the old Polydor release of the album. I'd thought about getting the Experience Hendrix release for a while but always found something else to spend my hard earned dosh on. When I saw this was being released I thought this was the time to invest, afterall they were using the original 2 track masters for the remastering process and I was going to get the DVD as well. The sound is definately an improvement (To these ears at least), it sounds more alive, more immediate. That, sadly,is where any improvements end. If you already have the previous Experince Hendrix release I understand this is the same remaster, so no sound improvements for you. The essay in the booklet is nowhere near as interesting or as informative as the old Polydor release, and again I believe this is the same essay as the the previous Experince Hendrix release. So, how about the DVD. Well, it's quite interesting, for all of its 17 minutes. Yes you read that right, 17 measley minutes. And it has the feel of something just cobbled together, it is not something made specially for this release.
Overall this is a very shoddy, tacky piece of marketing and Experince Hendrix should hang their heads in shame at allowing themselves to be talked into it. Talk about trying to milk the the cash cow, Hendrix would spin in his grave. This more the kind of thing Michael jeffrey would have approved of. There are plenty of more honourable ways to get Hendrix fans to part with their money. How about getting out there and releasing (In excellent sound) the Winterland concerts from October '68, or the Royal Albert Hall concerts that were released by Charley, or the LA Forum concert that was part of Lifelines, or even the Lifelines boxset. All of those would bring howls of joy from Hendrix fans. No instead we get this, and we deserve better. And while I'm critising Experience Hendrix I see on the Dagger Records part of the new site you can no longer preview parts of the tracks. If you want us to fork out for bootleg quality recordings at least let us get a taste of what we're paying for!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, in short, if you already have the previous release, stay away from this. If you don't already own this album but want it, don't get this version it will only encourage EH to do more of the same, go out and get the previous version. Right, I'm now off to listen to Little Wing to calm down.
on 29 September 2007
one day i woke and discovered that axis was the best hendrix album.I got fed up with the riff based songs on 'are you experienced'. Most of that album seems really commercial to me,it does not work as whole album but a collection of songs where as axis is cohesive as whole. It opens with a jarring insrumental ipersonationg a flying saucer and seques into 'up from the skies'. It is great song that predicts global warming decades before anyone else. It has superb jazz feel.Next is 'spanish castle magic' with great lyrics and a rocker of amazing frenzy. One song follows another till we reach the masterpiece 'little wing'.The opening by even hendrix standard is superb as well as a great love song . If six was nine is three songs in one and ends with an inredible freak out ending with not guitar but flutes. The energy is maintained on the hard and poppy 'you got me floating'. the song is an amazing feel good song which makes the next song feel so unusal on this album.'castles made of sand' makes you come down to earth with three stories of ironies of life. Noel redding song is another piece which grounds the album. the remaining songs lift it up again particularly 'bold as love' which is one of the great hendrix tracks.What makes this album so special among hendrix albums is that no singles were released. I think it is the greatest hendrix album. buy it.
on 11 January 2004
I bought this album in the christmas. And i immediately fell in love with it. I am a dedicated Hendrix fan, even at the ripe old age of 16 and if you are a boy of my age do not write off this music as 'stuff my dad listens to' because in fact you will find that this is some of the best music of the last century. If you are a guitarist like me, you will admire this playing. This album has some of the best riffs of the time, even though they are not too well known, Spanish Castle Magic, one of the best on the album, could be passed as a modern retro-rocker tune. It has enormous power. 'you got me floatin' ' is another of those brilliant riffs that you, guitarist or not will long to play. this album is a striking and frightening cosmic display of awesome composition that cannot afford to be missed by any age or era of people.
on 16 June 2012
I've become something of a mono obsessive recently and have discovered that many of the classic albums I have been a fan of over the years sound so good in mono, with that rich punchy sound and not that silly and rather naff extreme panning that you get on stereo albums of the same era. Bit by bit I've been hunting down mono versions of some of my favourite old albums. I've bid on Jimi Hedrix's Axis album a few times and the price always soars way beyond my budget, a good copy typically going for around 200 odd quid. I recently gave up on trying to get an original mono copy and bought this Mono reissue instead, it still wasn't cheap and when I read the blurb on the inside sleeve I was initially a bit dissapointed to discover that this version is actually a new mono mix and therefore different to the original that I was after. Having said that, it does also state that this new mono version has been prepaired using all analogue and vintage mixing and mastering equipment and has been personally mixed by Hendrix's top engineer man Eddie Kramer. Once I actually played the record I wasn't dissapointed, it has vivid sound quality and a really punchy in your face kick to it plus loads of bottom end, I thought it sounded pretty cool.
Anyone who has read up on and listened to this album will know that Hendrix invested quite a bit of time into the stereo mix of this outstanding album back in 1967, he utillised swirling sound effects moving from one speaker to another, (EXP for example), aswell as phasing on the drums, (Bold as love), which also moves from left to right and right to left, making it one of the better examples of a stereo mix on a classic album from this time. Bearing that in mind, I think I still prefer this mono version even though a mono mix means those effects are lost. I'm not sure how similar or different this new version is from the original mono, but in it's own right this is certainley a very fine sounding record. The only thing that I was dissapointed by, is that the sleeve notes claim that this reissue features the original artwork, it does have the Track records logo on the label, but there is no orange lyric sheet like the original pressings and the lyrics are instead printed on the gatefold sleeve, where as the original albums gatefold featured a cool black and white band portrait which I think they should have replicated here, especially as it's an expensive purchase. I paid £60.00 for my copy and I've seen them online for much more than that, I'm pretty sure I've seen one or two cheaper than what I paid aswell, but that was a while ago. I'm not sure if it's really worth paying too much for reissues. Hope this helps and happy listening.....Jess.
Review of vinyl pressing of 'Axis Bold as Love' follows.
The original bright and distinctive Hindu-cosmology-themed gatefold-cover art graces the vinyl pressing of `Axis Bold as Love', the second album from the Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded later in 1967, the same year as their debut album `Are You Experienced?'. `Axis' is musically more polished than its immediate predecessor, full of new material written since the AYE sessions and has first class production values which still sound crisp and professional even 44 years later.
The album opens with a mock-radio interview during which Jimi plays `Mr Paul Caruso', a man just arrived in a flying saucer, a comedic moment of sci-fi spacyness which sets the tone of the album in a manner absolutely fitting for 1967.
So, what of the music on `Axis'? Here the focus is on songwriting and the mood gentler, more ambient and melodic than Hendrix's first creative outpouring captured on AYE, though some rocking numbers like `Spanish Castle Magic' and `Ain't no Telling' stand out. Many of the songs are short, coming in around the 2-minute mark and displaying an admirable discipline in contrast to the self-indulgent extended improvisations of many 1967 contemporaries. The most enduring numbers from `Axis' are probably the poignant and prolifically-covered `Little Wing' with its distinctive intro and beautifully restrained wailing guitar; and `If Six was Nine' with its rebellious be-true-to-yourself-and-don't-follow-the-crowd theme, used in the soundtrack of the famous Cannes-prize-winning 1969 film `Easy Rider' starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper (who also directed) and Jack Nicholson in early film roles.
The sound quality is richer, deeper and more original than probably any CD edition, with more light and shade 'in the groove'. It's a very natural sound mix.
`Axis' is often regarded as Hendrix's most mellow and delightful album, with his impressive vocal range on display through some first-class material. Though best remembered as a composer, an electric guitar innovator and pioneer of new sounds in rock music, Hendrix was in fact a very good pitch-perfect melodic singer with vocal power, good range and expressive phrasing. The raunchy guitar takes a background seat here, to emerge again in 1968's milestone `Electric Ladyland' album. On `Axis', with popular and commercial success finally in his grasp after years of struggle, Jimi seems to be really enjoying himself and, through these varied and high-quality numbers, his delightful humour and optimistic good nature shine through.
If you're interested in Hendrix's musical legacy and in understanding how he helped shape the form of pop/rock music which endures even into the C21, then `Axis' is indispensable to your collection. There's a lot of Hendrix material out there in various packages and re-issues, but in addition to `Axis' the essential studio albums are the debut `Are You Experienced', the quintessential and important `Electric Ladyland' from 1968 and the posthumously released `First Rays of the New Rising Sun' showcasing to perfection his later material from 1970. There's plenty of live stage material released in various packages too; best of the bunch are probably `Concerts' and the admittedly uneven performance at the 1969 Woodstock festival containing the epic rendition of `Star Spangled Banner.' The `Blues' album is good, too.
on 5 August 2001
At first I always thought this album inferior to Are you Experienced. But after owning each album for quite a while now I find myself always reaching for this album rather than any of the others.
The songs cannot be faulted and many people will find them more enjoyable if they find endless experimentation less important than a great song.
This album mixes the two aspects perfectly to make a very listenable record. I especially enjoy Bold as Love (Which finishes the album on an incredible high), Wait until tommorow and of course little Wing.
The Band are Great as Always and really work as a unit.