Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jimi Hendrix - 1968 - Smash Hits

Jimi Hendrix 
Smash Hits

UK Version:

01. Purple Haze - 2:52
02. Fire - 2:45
03. The Wind Cries Mary - 3:20
04. Can You See Me - 2:33
05. 51st Anniversary - 3:16
06. Hey Joe (Roberts) - 3:30
07. Stone Free - 3:36
08. The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice - 4:21
09. Manic Depression - 3:42
10. Highway Chile - 3:32
11. Burning of the Midnight Lamp - 3:39
12. Foxy Lady - 3:18

US Version:

01. Purple Haze - 2:52
02. Fire - 2:45
03. The Wind Cries Mary - 3:20
04. Can You See Me - 2:33
05. Hey Joe (Roberts) - 3:30
06. All Along the Watchtower (Dylan) - 4:00
07. Stone Free - 3:36
08. Crosstown Traffic - 2:19
09. Manic Depression - 3:42
10. Remember - 2:48
11. Red House - 3:50
12. Foxy Lady - 3:19

The original release came with a poster inside the jacket. It features all three members of the band on horses.

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

Smash Hits is a compilation of singles by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the first compilation album for Jimi Hendrix, released in re-channeled stereo "Enhanced for stereo from original mono recordings" in the United Kingdom in 1968 on Track Records 612004, and a year later in stereo in the United States on Reprise Records, catalogue MS 2025
The 'rest of the world outside of US/Canada' (and in this unique case Barclay France who released their own choice of 'Greatest Hits') version appeared only four months after the second studio album, Axis: Bold as Love, while the band worked on their third. It contained their first four UK hit singles—"Hey Joe", "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary", and "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"—along with respective B-sides, supplemented by four tracks taken from the debut LP Are You Experienced: "Fire", "Can You See Me", "Manic Depression", and "Foxy Lady". It marked the first appearance on album of "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", five months ahead of its placement on Electric Ladyland.

In the US, however, Reprise Records felt that a greatest-hits collection would have been premature in 1968, as up to then Hendrix had only had three low-charting singles in the US: "Purple Haze" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #65, with "Foxy Lady" at #67 and a track taken from Axis, "Up from the Skies," at #82. Hendrix gained two more chart entries in 1968, both being tracks from Electric Ladyland: "Crosstown Traffic" going to #52 and "All Along the Watchtower," his only US Top 40 'hit', at #20. A stereo version of "Fire" issued as a single in April 1969 missed the chart. As no new studio album was on the horizon in 1969, partly owing to the disbanding of the Experience by Hendrix exacerbated by tensions with Noel Redding, the label decided to issue a different compilation with the same title. To include three British hit singles on the American configuration of the debut album, there were also the tracks that had been elbowed off the UK Experienced which had yet to be released on album in the States, or in stereo.

The US version therefore contains five of the six singles released in the US, the three tracks from the 'rest of the world outside of US/Canada' Are You Experienced—"Can You See Me," "Remember," and a later version of "Red House"—along with two European singles "The Wind Cries Mary" and "Hey Joe." "Stone Free", which had originally been the B-side of "Hey Joe" and would be released as a single in the US seven weeks after this LP, and the album track "Manic Depression." In fact, on the US version all but "Crosstown Traffic" and "All Along the Watchtower" had appeared on either the American or British version of Are You Experienced, with "Stone Free" the flip of one of its singles.

The Japanese Polydor release had a uniquely different print of the US/Canada Are You Experienced fish-eye photograph cover by Karl Ferris. The remastered US version of this compilation was released on compact disc on March 9, 2010. Neither the UK nor US version contained tracks from Axis: Bold As Love.

The 1988 CD release from Reprise Records is notable for being one of the few CDs to use the CD+G technology that would display graphics while the CD plays on certain systems hooked to a television.

A long time ago, I heard of this guy Jimi Hendrix. Since the best way (usually) to get to know an artist's works is to buy their "greatest hits" compilations... or at least I believe so. So, back then, I bought this (in cassette form) and was so excited by his music, that my collection of Hendrix albums and CDs soon reached 3 digits (after years of collecting, it continues to expand). This is a perfect JHE starter. Are there better? Sure, but when you get down to it, this album/tape/CD lit a flame that still burns after over 15 years (just as his music still does after 35 years). I have my doubts that the musically curious wouldn't enjoy it as much as I. As for favorite CDs... there are so many. Just look around at used record stores and record conventions... your average collector knows what I mean. Its good for new and old fans... like one reviewer said, for the old fans, it brings back memories regardless... for the new, it will make memories.

One of the first hits compilations assembled of Jimi Hendrix's catalog, Smash Hits remains one of the best, since it keeps its focus narrow and never tries to extend its reach. Basically, this album contains the songs everybody knows from Hendrix, drawing heavily from Are You Experienced?, plus adding the non-LP "Red House," "51st Anniversary," and "Highway Chile." Those non-LP selections may still make this worth seeking out, even if they've appeared on subsequent hits collections, but the main strength of Smash Hits is that it contains the best-known big-name songs in one place. Maybe not enough to make the collection essential, but still enough to make it a representative, accurate sampler.

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