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  • February 28th, 2018

    Why Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland is One of the Best Albums Ever Made

    Words by Olivia Viana

    This year is the mega-anniversary of one of the greatest albums out there: Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. Featuring some of the guitar titan’s most rock-solid tracks, including “Voodoo Child,” “Crosstown Traffic”, and “All Along The Watchtower,” it’s no wonder this last studio release has remained a legend through all these years. 1968 was filled to the brim with feedback frenzies, mind-splitting solos, and revolutionary vibes, but it was Hendrix’s massive contribution to the scene that made it rock so hard. 50 years later, Electric Ladyland is still spinning on our turntables, and Hendrix will always be our rock hero. Here’s why.

    “…And The Gods Made Love”

    This ambient introduction is a sonic exploration that proves Hendrix was determined to travel new musical territory. Shortly before the album was released on October 16, 1968, The Jimi Hedrix Experience gave an interview that has thankfully lasted all these years. For even more of an introduction, get a behind-the-scenes view into the mind of Jimi Hendrix.

    “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)”

    With lyrics describing a magic carpet ride to a distant loveland, this smooth and psychedelic track eases your mind before Hendrix’s guitar frenzy hits. He’s bringing us to Electric Ladyland, and it’s going to be a trip.

    “His playing was effortless. There’s not one minute of his recorded career that feels like he’s working hard at it — it feels like it’s all floating through him.”—Tom Morello

    “Crosstown Traffic”

    The thumping rhythm of this track isn’t the only element that has made it a Hendrix staple. His relentless vocals and main guitar riff are filled with enough adrenaline that they replace the need for a lengthy solo (though no one would’ve complained).

    “Voodoo Chile”

    This 15-minute jam is the living record of the musical wizardry between legends. Hendrix is joined by Steve Winwood on organ and Jack Casady on bass to create its soulful energy. Hard-hitting blues and rock ‘n’ roll passion are woven together in a way that only these musicians together were able to create.

    “Little Miss Strange”

    Introduced with an acoustic segment, this jovial rocker takes a break from the heavier sounds of the previous track. Hendrix steps back from lead vocals to give this song even more of a different feel. But his wah-filled solo makes sure that you know that he’s still there.

    “Jimi Hendrix changed my life. Each generation influences the following one and as a consequence brings it back to the past.”–Robert Smith

    “Long Hot Summer Night”

    More psychedelic vibes are introduced here, with plenty of Hendrix’s iconic phrasing to keep you rooted in its six-stringed wonder. If you listen carefully, its reggae-esque rhythm will take you back to summer nights.

    “Everybody else just screwed it up, and thought wailing away is the answer. But it ain’t; you’ve got to be a Jimi to do that, you’ve got to be one of the special cats.”—Keith Richards

    “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)”

    The guitar hero doesn’t hesitate to throw in driving solos in this song, one after another. Get ready for some intense rock ‘n’ roll ecstasy.

    “Jimi Hendrix is very important. He’s my idol. He sort of epitomizes, from his presentation on stage, the whole works of a rock star. There’s no way you can compare him. You either have the magic or you don’t. There’s no way you can work up to it. There’s nobody who can take his place.”—Freddie Mercury

    “Gypsy Eyes”

    The intoxicating rhythm of this song is enough to make it an instant classic. Add on an inventive vocal-and-guitar synchrony and a thumping bass drum, and you’re drawn into those gypsy eyes.

    “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”

    Heavy distortion keeps the psychedelic vibes flowing, with Hendrix’s wah-wah prowess breaking through.

    “He was very self-effacing about his music but then when he picked up that guitar he was a monster.”—Paul McCartney

    “Rainy Day, Dream Away”

    Get ready for a completely different feel here. An unexpected saxophone line rightly suggests that Hendrix is ready explore even more territory. Bluesy and jazzy, this track sees Hendrix vocalizing through his guitar.

    “Jimi Hendrix came from the blues, like me. We understood each other right away because of that. He was a great blues guitarist.”—Miles Davis

    “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”

    Hendrix experiments even more freely with this song, creating a soundscape unlike anything he had released before. Its enrapturing and mind-bending qualities were accomplished through different sound effects that required studio wizardry.

    “Moon, Turn the Tides…Gently Gently Away”

    This short intermission continues the soundscape that the album weaves together, before the guitar brings you back in the next track.

    “I started out playing guitar because Jimi Hendrix was my hero, so my roots were really based on Jimi Hendrix and his style of playing.”–Joe Satriani

    “Still Raining, Still Dreaming”

    This song continues the sentiments of “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” and is the final piece of the dream before reality kicks back in.

    “I mean, we had Jimi Hendrix. Heck, what more do we want?”–Kurt Cobain

    “House Burning Down”

    Waking from the dream, Hendrix brings us back to the terrors that were all too real in the late 60s. The lyrics paint the picture that the title suggests, and the wailing guitar is all too reminiscent of crying. Then Hendrix whips out his feedback mastery that keeps the adrenaline running high.

    “You never told me he was that good.”–Eric Clapton

    “All Along the Watchtower”

    No one can ignore the immediate pull of “All Along The Watchtower.” Its intensity, time-capsule power, and mastermind phrasing are purely Hendrix, despite being a cover performance of Bob Dylan’s classic. Its lyrics are daunting, but somehow we all know that the guitar is going to pull us all out of any despair we face.

    “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”

    If there’s any song that defines Hendrix’s contribution to music, it’s this one. From the sonic scratching in the beginning to the wailing vocals, Hendrix makes it clear that he’s the voodoo child. Some of his most inventive soloing makes this track one of the most legendary creations coming out of the 60s. But really, that goes for Electric Ladyland as a whole. It’s still a legend at 50, and it’s going to remain one of the most epic musical statements through the years to come.

    50th Anniversary Celebration at Garcia’s

    To get even more pumped about Jimi Hendrix’s legacy, join us for an amazing tribute performance at Garcia’s on Saturday, March 31. Brandon “Taz” Niederauer will be bringing the music of Electric Ladyland back to life with his prodigious guitar style. Even though he’s only fourteen, he’s jammed with countless legends, such as Stevie Nicks, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, and Gary Clark, Jr. You won’t want to miss this event!