By Phyllis Pollack
Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell and Angels, slated for release on March 5, 2013, debuts 12 previously unreleased tracks from the iconic guitar legend, recorded 1968 through 1970. This year marks what would have been the guitarist’s 70th birthday.
The new set, released by Sony Legacy, was co-produced by John McDermott, Eddie Kramer and Janie Hendrix.
Because of his relationship and understanding of Hendrix’s intentions in the studio, Eddie Kramer engineered every Hendrix album to be recorded during the guitarist’s life, as well as appearances including his historic performance as Woodstock.
While the 2010 release Valleys of Neptune represented Hendrix’s final work with the original Jimi Hendrix Experience, this album reveals the musical vision he was experimenting with for his voluminous release subsequent to Electric Ladyland, the double album First Rays of the New Rising Sun.
With Billy Cox and Buddy Miles at his side in the studio, Hendrix began working without the original confines of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, featuring the late bassist Noel Redding and the late drummer Mitch Mitchell.
The result of the 12 tracks signal the no limit musicianship that Hendrix was yearning for with Miles and Cox.
Hendrix plugs in for this album’s version of “Hear My Train A Comin’,” a wickedly executed set of masterful blues licks, caught between a rhythmic barrage of Southern styling. The result is exemplary of some of rock’s most powerful assaults.
It is clear that Hendrix is musically “at home” with Miles and Cox, when listening to the album.
It would be of no surprise, given that the guitarist played with the latter in his early days in the “chitlin circuit.” Cox and Hendrix had also served in the 101st US Army Airborne.
Now there was money for studios and experimenting. Hendrix was now able to tinker endlessly during what he had of his free time, both at the Record Plant in New York, the Hit Factory, and at other studios. Now, he was financing the construction of his own studio, the advanced, state of the art Electric Lady Studios.
“Bleeding Heart” written by Elmore James was a song Hendrix referred to both on stage and in the studio. It was part of his set list at the Royal Albert Hall. Here, he has revamped it, into a work of his own, much as he had done with Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.”
Hendrix recorded several tapkes of it, but the master could not be found. Another version was recorded with Cox and Ricky Issac, which would later be released on Valleys of Neptune. His final recorded goal for the song had never been fully completed, as he was never completely satisfied with the result.
Then the one with the new beat he wanted was finally issued on this album.
Heavily into the blues in this period, “Bleeding Heart” was recorded in the same session as his electrified and electrifying “Hear My Train A Coming.”
Hendrix is seen playing the acoustic version in the 1973 film documentary Jimi Hendrix. The scene is memorable, with its plain white background, and Hendrix on his 12-string.
The first single from People, Hell and Angels includes the newly found recording of “Somewhere,” featuring Buddy Miles on drums, and Stephen Stills on bass. This version radically differs from others that have been recorded.
It was conceived during the guitarist's first American session in which he both had total control in the role working and producing, away from the direction of Chas Chandler.
While Stills is a respected guitarist, he was happy to play bass for Henrdix when he asked him to do so.
Another departure from the version that the fans have come to know, is with the album’s take of Earth Blues, a very different than the track that was first issued as part of the 1971 film Rainbow Bridge.
This one was recorded two years, on December 19, 1969, and features Hendrix with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. This recording is a bare bones version, a down to bone funk piece at its very original state.
“Let Me Move You” was recorded in March, 1969, reuniting Hendrix with his old friend, sax player Lonnie Youngblood. Hendrix used to play guitar as an unknown sideman for him, on R&B singles, including “Soul Food.”
Hendrix could go back to his roots without having to prove his rock and roll credibility, because that is where it came from in the first place.
The album’s track “Izabella” had its first audience at Woodstock. Jimi was looking forward to perfecting a studio version of it. A far cry from the Band of Gypsys single, it features Larry Lee, another old friend from his old days, who vamps away on rhythm guitar.
This was prior to Hendrix’s life changing “discovery” by the late Chas Chandler.
“Hey Gypsy Boy” evidences the musical core of the guitar legend’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun.)” This is the actual original recording featuring Buddy Miles, not the posthumously overdubbed, revised version that had been issued as part of 1975’s Midnight Lightening.
Again connecting to his musical roots through his friends, two of his friends that were vocalists, Albert and Arthur Allen, known as the Ghetto Fighters, had recorded a master of “Mojo Man” at the historic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
After hanging out with Hendrix in Harlem, they took the song to Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios. Jimi took it beyond R&B, adding elements of rock and blues, and created a distinctly modified version of it.
The album ends with “Villanova Junction Blues,” which he recorded in the same May 1969 session in which he laid down this album’s version of “Bleeding Heart” and “Hear My Train A Comin’.”
Tragically, the song was never completed. It stands testament, however, to the new amalgamation of ideas and sounds he wanted to combine, going forward, while holding onto his musical roots.
In support of Record Store Day this year, the third Saturday of April, a limited run of only 5,000 copies of a special poster for the album will be printed and distributed in stores by Experience Hendrix.
The image is a 24” x 36” poster printed on heavy paper that will be given for free to Hendrix fans at fully participating record stores in the United States. Fans should contact their local store the week of Record Store Day for details.
The poster features Hendrix, donning his artistic Sixties couture, digging through 45’s at a record store.
The photo was taken at a small, independently owned record store by a customer, Ira Rosen. It was shot just prior to the release of Are You Experienced.
Also, exclusively for Record Store Day 2013, Experience Hendrix will issue a limited edition individually numbered 7" vinyl single featuring the original mono mixes of "Hey Joe" b/w "Stone Free" which have been unavailable since their original 1966 release.
Record Store Day is organized by the Department of Record Stores and is organized in partnership with the Alliance of Independent Media Stores (AIMS), the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS).
It pays homage to the culture of independent record stores, by featuring in-store events/performances, autograph signings and special product releases. Record Store Day is held both in The States and abroad.
Also in support of Record Store Day 2013, Experience Hendrix will issue a limited edition, individually numbered, seven-inch vinyl single, featuring the original mono mixes of "Hey Joe" b/w "Stone Free."
These have been unavailable since their original 1966 release.
Subsequent to Hendrix's tragic death on September 18, 1970, Kramer, Mitchell and assistant studio engineer John Jansen delved into the hundreds of mult-track reels featuring the guitarist's work.
Yesterday, the retail clothing chain, the Gap, announced that the brand is joining Experience Hendrix in a celebration of this milestone with the launch of two limited-edition t-shirt designs.
The t-shirts feature art from the iconic musician's new album, People, Hell and Angels, which debuts these previously unreleased studio recordings.