Top 100 Album Review: #15 – Are you Experienced, Jimi Hendrix (1967)

What Can Jimi Not Do?

A debut album that show cases the wide range of Hendrix’s talents — guitar riffs, thoughtful lyrics, original compensations. 

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #15/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Another example of me listening to the original album when I knew the greatest hits, “Are You Experienced” is a reminder that there is plenty hidden in the full record.

I had previously listened to Ray Charles’ Atlantic R&B Collection and Little Richard’s Eponymous album, and I can’t help but see the continuation of what was becoming a 20 year project: taking the foundations of music and twisting in ways never done before.

Jimi Hendrix’s use of guitar sends you to an incorporeal place, being left in awe of his mastery of the instrument. His interpretation of R&B, gospel, jazz, rock, and soul might be the best attempt yet.

The track listing for this album can be a little funky. Originally it was just 11 songs, but it was released differently in the UK vs. USA with tracks switched out and moved around. Now it has been remastered with additional songs at the end, rounding it out to 17. These additional tracks fit seamlessly into the project, it just makes it hard to discern what actually should be considered his debut album.

[best hidden gem.] May This Be Love

While starting off a little psychedelic, it ends in a minutes long guitar solo with soft drum backing. The style is dreamy, and I wouldn’t have pegged it as a Jimi composition if I heard it out of context. As someone who listens to chill/new-age/instrumental background music while writing, the back end of this track fits perfectly into an entire genre of music that came 40 or 50 years after this recording.

[best track.] Wind Cries Mary 

His mellow work I think is his best; it instantly sends you to another dimension, hitting the right spots before you return to earth. “The Wind Cries Mary” is in this vein — a pastoral, down to earth song that enriches your soul. Somehow Jimmy turned the electrical guitar, known for his rockin’ out, to one of the softest instruments available.

The album isn’t short on the rockers either though: Purple Haze, Maniac Depression, Fire, and Third Stone From the Sun all provide plenty of jamming, hippie hits that are edgier and provide a bit more thump.

Various - 1967

Jimi wasn’t just good a jamming on the guitar, he was also able to write some lyrics that had the hippie symbolism of nature, thoughts and ideas but transcended above the gibberish, word salad seen often from this generation (See: Forever Changes by Love)

“Waterfall, don’t ever change your ways.
Fall with me for a million days,
Oh, my waterfall.”

“Manic Depression’s touching my soul,
I know what I want,
but I just don’t know how to go about getting it.”

“A broom is drearily sweeping up the broken pieces of yesterdays life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
Somewhere a king has no wife.”

Are You Experienced is simply awesome; it’s a unique style continuing the transition that started with the forefathers of rock n’ roll in the 50s. With Jimi’s unworldly guitar skills and poignant lyrics, he is the zenith of the hippie movement, putting all the pieces together.

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