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Hendrix's 1967 debut collection reveals a young creative genius in the prime of life,
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This review is from: Are You Experienced (Audio CD)
`Are You Experienced?' is consistently voted one of the greatest debut albums ever, by any artist from any age, and sounds as good today as on its May 1967 UK release. In 2005 the original recordings were selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, a rare honour indeed.
These were not the first recordings ever made by Hendrix: he had already recorded quite a body of work with Curtis Knight in 1965 in the USA. But it was in London in 1966, sponsored and financed by Chas Chandler, that together with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience was born. In early 1967 Hendrix made the most of his studio time and laid down all his best contemporary material, and it is on this collection that his youthful creativity shines the brightest.
It's difficult now to understand how revolutionary this music sounded in 1967. Nothing quite like it had ever been done before; it became the sound of a generation and spawned a thousand imitators of the Hendrix style, none a patch on the unique original. Hendrix raised the bar on what could be done with an electric guitar, and has never been surpassed and never equalled. Bob Dylan had influenced Hendrix towards writing clever, interesting lyrics and these, often tinged with humour, overlay styles ranging from the hard-rocking (Purple Haze, Manic Depression, the title track) to classic blues (Red House), to the mellow and serene (The Wind Cries Mary) and the psychedelic experimental (Third Stone from the Sun, reminiscent in style to some of Pink Floyd's extended stage numbers around 1968) and more. Hendrix blended styles to create his own distinctive and revolutionary wall of amplified sound; he was a true original touched by greatness, defied categorisation and wasn't like anyone else before or since.
Three months after its original UK release, AYE was finally released in the USA in August 1967 with a different running order and including three UK hit singles excluded from the UK release. The US version also had radically different (and improved) cover art. The persistent enthusiasm through the decades for this album, in all its various permutations, is entirely justified. You have a choice of versions, from the pared-down original UK 1967 vinyl release to later versions featuring several bonus tracks all from the early 1967 recording sessions, so all justifying their inclusion. The CD re-master of the original 1967 US vinyl album release, opening with `Purple Haze', is probably the pick of the bunch, but any version incorporating the bonus material is good.