Mitchell: Finally a Hendrix album worthy of his lasting legacy
Jimi Hendrix: People, Hell and Angels (Sony Legacy)
Two studio albums released to huge sales and wide critical acclaim—one live album in the can (a contractual obligation) and another studio album ready for release.
That was Jimi Hendrix’ total legacy when he died of an unfortunate alcohol and sleeping pill mix up in September of 1970. Since then there has been literally hundreds of Hendrix bootleg albums released along with many, many more half baked, rip-off albums issued by illegitimate and uncertain sources.
However, a few years ago the Hendrix estate was finally settled after extensive legal machinations and now at least the Hendrix catalogue is being treated with something resembling respect.
So take pity on the jaundiced, veteran reviewer who has waded through too many near worthless so-called Hendrix albums but happily, this new one is the real thing.
The sound on People, Hell And Angels is excellent throughout and even the most ardent Jimi Hendrix collectors have yet to hear what is on this new release (at least according to the liner notes).
The controversial Crash Landing album has been rectified somewhat here with the first ever original recording of the title track (the other release had re-recorded session players) and the original Hey Gypsy Boy.
The rest of this disc is a simple trio format with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums as Hendrix worked up an extensive batch of songs—the fine Earth Blues, for example, is take No.15 and is very different from the version released on Rainbow Bridge (1971).
Hendrix revisits his chittlin’ circuit days on Let Me Move You while he plays a little breezy jazz rock on Easy Blues that gives an indication where Hendrix would probably have ended up.
These dozen songs come with detailed liner notes to each track and hard core devotees will enjoy this, but don’t look for anything as groundbreaking as Purple Haze, Foxey Lady, The Wind Cries Mary or All Along The Watchtower.
Jeff Healey: House On Fire, Demos& Rarities (Eagle Records)
I wonder if it is just a coincidence that Canuck guitar hero Jeff Healey’s album of demos and unreleased rarities was released around the same time as Jimi Hendrix’ new album of unreleased studio recordings.
Hendrix is obviously much more famous than Canada’s own fretwork wunderkind but the two stellar guitarists do share at least one strange trait that sometimes gets overlooked. Both were unusual guitarists not just for their stellar technique and vision but also for their unique ways of physically performing.
The blind Jeff Healey was considered something of a freak for sitting down to play laptop-style while Hendrix was a left handed guitarist who simply turned his guitar upside down, restrung it and played southpaw style.
Like Hendrix’ People, Hell And Angels, Healey’s album of studio demos and unreleased tracks is absolute catnip for hardcore fans. The highlights for me include an incendiary take of Bruce Springsteen’s Adam Raised A Cain and the superb shoulda-been-a-hit original House On Fire.
Healey’s later experiments with ’20s and ’30s trad jazz can be heard in the playful instrumental Bish Bang Boof while the balls to the wall hard rockers All The Way and Daze Of The Night are better than the covers Healey tried to have hits with on his Cover To Cover album.
Healey’s take of Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight is some of the standard AOR fare that saw Healey lose some career trajectory in that it is tepid, but convicted fans will find plenty to like on this outtake and demo release.