Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jimi Hendrix - 1967 - Are You Experienced

Jimi Hendrix 
Are You Experienced

UK Mono (Track):

01. Foxy Lady
02. Manic Depression
03. Red House
04. Can You See Me
05. Love Or Confusion
06. I Don't Live Today
07. May This Be Love
08. Fire
09. 3rd Stone From The Sun
10. Remember
11. Are You Experienced

US Stereo (Reprise):

01. Purple Haze
02. Manic Depression
03. Hey Joe
04. Love Or Confusion
05. May This Be Love
06. I Don't Live Today
07. The Wind Cries Mary
08. Fire
09. Third Stone From The Sun
10. Foxey Lady
11. Are You Experienced?

Bass Guitar, Vocals – Noel Redding
Drums – Mitch Mitchell
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Jimi Hendrix

Debut album for band, 1st UK issue (mono only). (Also the 1st album on Track Record label).

The debut album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the first album on the Track Record label, Are You Experienced was initially issued in mono and then 'enhanced stereo' on later issues. Recordings had already begun in late October 1966, with the band producing material that does not appear on this album, but was released as singles leading up to its release (A common marketing practice at that time); (Hey Joe/Stone Free [Polydor, Dec 66], Purple Haze/51st Anniversary [Track, Mar 67] & The Wind Cries Mary/Highway Chile [coinciding with album issue].
These tracks appear on later releases.

The Sleeve & Tracks:
The UK Track cover photography was by Bruce Flemming. This design was used in Australia, New Zealand & Japan by Polydor, all mono. Polydor releases in Europe had the words "Jimi Hendrix" placed above the title. This text was Green in Germany, Red in Italy & Yellow in Spain. These later issues were 'enhanced stereo', with tracks listed on the back. The Polydor issue in South Africa, conscious of apartheid at that time, is simply text on a red background. The Barclay Records issue (France) employed a French TV show image of Hendrix on the cover, with a question mark after the title & psychedelic graphics.

US Cover

The USA & Canadian issues were released by Reprise Records after the band appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, along with Track Record compatriots The Who. Art directed by Ed Thrasher this August '67 release cover uses a Karl Ferris infra-red fish-eye photo, with purple psychedelic text on yellow. There is a key difference to the tracks on this album, with some removed and replaced by the singles, plus a change to the running order. Released in mono & a remixed & remastered stereo version. The spelling "Foxey Lady" appears in some of these issues. The 'controversially produced' Alan Douglas issue on MCA in 1993 presented the tracks chronologically and two subsequent MCA reissues in 1997 each had differing track order. The editing of the Hendrix Family's MCA 1997 vinyl is more faithful to the original than its CD counterpart.

In South Africa the album was released by Polydor on 12 May 1967 in mono. At the time (during the Apartheid Government of the National Party) the South African censors periodically censored releases where the covers contained images of Black artists or where the songs were anti - apartheid or contained sexual innuendo. No tracks on the album were replaced or left out, but Polydor did not put an image of Jimi Hendrix on the sleeve because the record company feared that this might lead to the banning of the LP and result in a financial loss. The LP was released with a pink and black cover and with no photographs or drawings on either side. 

South Africa Cover

The first Experience recording sessions began on October 23rd, 1966, less than a month after the band had formed, and the band's first recording was "Hey Joe", of which they completed two takes. On November 2nd, the band recorded all four takes of "Can You See Me", the master for "Stone Free", six unused takes of "Fire" and three unused takes of "51st Anniversary". Also recorded in November was "Love or Confusion", in addition to another three attempts at "Hey Joe" on the 24th.

On December 12th, The Experience released their first single: "Hey Joe", backed with "Stone Free". This version of the single was only released in the United Kingdom, and saw release at a later date with a different B-side in the United States. Recording continued the next day, when the band made significant progress on the album with "Foxy Lady", "Red House" and "Third Stone From the Sun". This proved to be the final recording session of 1966.

Recording continued at De Lane Lea in 1967 on January 11th with the master takes of "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary" and "51st Anniversary", as well as an alternate take of "Third Stone From the Sun". The final version of "Fire" was recorded on February 3rd, and "I Don't Live Today" was completed in five takes on February 23rd. The band's second single in the UK was released on March 17th: "Purple Haze" backed with "51st Anniversary". The last recordings at De Lane Lea were on March 29th, which consisted of four alternate takes of "Red House", six takes of "Remember" and three takes of "Manic Depression".

The band then moved to a new location, also in London: Olympic Sound Studios. This was the home of the recording of their subsequent album, and the last three tracks for Are You Experienced were also finalised here: "May This Be Love", "Highway Chile" and the title track, "Are You Experienced?", were recorded on April 3rd.

Are You Experienced was first released in the United Kingdom, on May 12th, 1967, becoming the first album to be released on newly-formed record label Track Records. The cover for the UK release featured design and photography by Bruce Fleming, depicting frontman Jimi Hendrix holding a cape over fellow band members Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding. The album reached #2 in the UK Albums Chart in May, an amazing performance for a band's debut release.

The album was not released in Hendrix's native country until August 23rd, on US-based label Reprise Records. The North American (United States and Canada) version featured new artwork designed by Karl Ferris; a psychedelic design depicting the band in very flamboyant clothing, placed inside of a circle which was surrounded by a bright yellow box with purple typography. The track listing was also changed for this release; "Red House", "Can You See Me" and "Remember" were removed and replaced by single hits "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe" and "The Wind Cries Mary". The album did not chart as high in the US as the UK, though it still reached a respectable #5.

Other 1967 releases came in Australia, Chile, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Spain. The Australia/New Zealand release featured the same cover as the UK version, as did the Italy, Japan and Spain releases, though these featured the text "Jimi Hendrix" at the top in a variety of colours; red in Italy, yellow in Japan, green in Spain. The cover for the Chile release was a completely different photo of the band, and the original France LP had a psychedelic design featuring a picture of Hendrix alone in the centre.

France Cover

Are You Experienced was released in four more countries by the end of the 1960s: the Netherlands, China, Taiwan and Yugoslavia (all 1969). The Dutch cover featured new artwork in the form of Hendrix on-stage in the middle of a guitar solo, and the World Records release (China and Taiwan) had the same artwork as the original North American release, though the background was blue instead of yellow, the text was red instead of purple, and the photo was in black and white. The album was also re-released in Australia and North America in 1968.

In 1970, the album was released in three new countries, namely Brazil, Germany (to which new artwork was given) and Mexico. The album was also reissued in the UK and Australia. AYE was then released in two more new countries in the 1970s: Greece and Norway (both 1973), as well as being re-released in France (1971 and 1973) and Japan (1977 and 1979).

The next decade saw the first releases of the album on the new format of compact disc, as well as the first 17-track releases. The first CD releases appeared in Germany and the United Kingdom in 1984, both of which also featured 6 bonus tracks in addition to the original 11. 1984 also saw the album's first release in South Korea. Other CD releases appeared in North America (1987). Additional vinyl releases also appeared, namely in the UK (1987 and 1988) and Germany (1989), the latter of which featured the full 17-song tracklist. The final non-remastered release came in 1991 in Germany, and featured the full 17-strong tracklist.

Are You Experienced was first remastered in 1993 by controversial producer Alan Douglas, and this version saw release only in the two main countries: the United Kingdom and the United States. The 1993 remastered version also featured new artwork, a closeup on the three main memebers. Subsequent to this, and with the Hendrix family receiving rights to all Hendrix material, the album was remastered again and released in the United Kingdom, the United States, Argentina, and all of Europe in 1997, the latter of which released both CD and vinyl versions. Two more releases have appeared, both during the 21st Century; 17-track CDs were released in France and Japan on each country's Universal Records label.

1969 Netherland Re-Issue

Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience has to rank as one of the greatest debut albums in rock and soul history.  From the famous opening chords on "Purple Haze" to the choppy tape-looped ending on the title track, this is one strong album.  The swinging "Manic Depression," the raw animal magnetism of "Fire" (“Move over, Rover/And let Jimi take over”) and the salacious "Foxey Lady" stand out as songs that could have been hits if Top 40 radio was hip.  Some songs touch upon extremes that show Hendrix’ versatility—where "Third Stone from the Sun" is an exploratory in cosmic rock, "The Wind Cries Mary" is one of his most poignant ballads.

As the album was originally released in early 1967, in Britain, “Purple Haze” was not included.  In fact, it would take several months before Are You Experienced? was released by an American distributor, after Hendrix had signed with Reprise Records and wowed the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival.  It was then that the American edition of the album was pressed, alternating from its British counterpart by adding the single-only “Purple Haze” as the lead track, slightly shuffling up the playlist, and removing a couple of songs like Hendrix’ blues-based workout “Red House” for two other U.K. singles, “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Hey Joe.”   

The American album cover also differs from its British counterpart.  The earlier, more earth-toned artwork was replaced by a kaleidoscopic, wide-angled lens photo of the power trio with purple, contemporary poster-art lettering; the overall effect giving the album a psychedelic appearance. 

“Purple Haze” is a short (under 3 minutes), three-verse song that transcends its simple lyrics with sheer musical might.  Hendrix’ guitar is a sonic fireball that bursts out of the speakers, losing none of its 40 year-old punch.  Because so much of your focus throughout the song is on the guitar, Mitch Mitchell’s drums and Noel Redding’s bass are barely discernible.  “Purple Haze” served as a prototype for many a hard-rock act, and created a sort of acid-blues form. 

That form is on display in “I Don’t Live Today.”  Hendrix sings of living a desperate fast life on the lines “Will I live tomorrow/Well I just can’t say/But I know for sure/I don’t live today.”  Then he offers more traditional blues imagery on the next verse, singing “No sun coming through my windows/Feels like I’m sitting at the bottom of the grave.”  The songs fades out to a feedback guitar solo and Hendrix chanting “get experienced,” a play on the group and album’s name and foreshadowing the title track finale. 

Jimi Hendrix’ star shines so bright that it is sometimes easy to forget that he was the leader of a group and not an outright solo artist.  A good example of the trio functioning as a cohesive unit can be found on “Love or Confusion” where Hendrix’ swirling guitar is met with Redding’s popping bass lines and Mitchell’s thrashing drum playing.    

Even though "Hey Joe" was not written by Hendrix, it is widely associated with him for here he assumes the Stagger Lee role as he coolly tells the tale of deception and murder.  Much like the more graphic rap numbers of today, there was, and still is, something titillating about hearing a song like “Hey Joe” which glamorizes violence, especially when it is sung by a black man.  I’m not sure why that is, only that because Hendrix sounds so laid-back and calm throughout most of the song it adds to the enjoyment. 

Hendrix is unique in that he so ably crossed an invisible yet oddly present racial line in music to become a rock god.  After spending a few years woodshedding behind such acts as Little Richard and The Isley Brothers, he was ready to step into the spotlight.  He came along at a time when most black pop musicians were recording soul music, and where rock and roll’s audience was predominantly white.  He was an ambassador, if you will, for race relations in the music field, and his guitar was the unification piece.  Never mind that Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, two of the most inventive guitarists in the rock era, were on the scene a decade before Hendrix.  In the minds of the young, music listening audience, the names of those black gentlemen, both rock pioneers, belong to ancient history.  Instead, Hendrix captivated the hippie generation.  I cannot address what influence he has within the African-American culture, but he spoke and continues to speak to teenage white males (his core audience) in a language they understand—the dazzling guitar solo.  That he died young (in 1970 at the age of 27) established him as a legend.   

What helped to make Jimi Hendrix so popular was that he was all-inclusive.  On the song “Are You Experienced?” he not only captivates the listener with his soaring, chiming guitar solos but also with his open invitation to get your mind together and take hold of his hand.  On the chorus he sings: 

Are you experienced? 
Or have you ever been experienced? 
Well, I have 

But then attaches a line on the last chorus: 

Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.

In other words, have you experienced inner beauty in the form of peace and tranquility?  It may be a song suggesting drug overtones but with that last line so casually added, his request to journey with him here, and by extension throughout the whole Are You Experienced? album, is offered for any open-minded individual.  Experience it for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Mono UK + Stereo USA LP's + International CD: