The arrival of a "new" Jimi Hendrix album may sound dubious to some of you but really is a reason to celebrate given that the Hendrix Estate has been doing a pretty marvelous job in recent years of issuing high quality archival releases. People, Hell and Angels continues that effort with a sweet audiophile grade 200-gram two-LP set (by Quality Record Pressings). The fidelity is pretty remarkable, but then these are tracks freshly mixed off the multi track masters made at studios such as The Record Plant and The Hit Factory, two of the premier recording studios of their day.
The guitars sound like they were recorded yesterday and the bass and drums sound remarkably natural, with full round lows and crisp cymbals and such. Fans of hearing the tone of pure unfettered guitars played through amplifiers will like this album which is resplendent in amp tone-ness! Really, Hendrix was always about tone and feel and this album has no shortage of that.
How does it sound? Fabulous! As one would hope, the noise floor on these 200-gram pressings are super quiet so the record disappears allowing the music to fully flower from your speakers. Turn this one up!
These are not throwaway takes but carefully chosen tracks which very much work as an end-to-end album listening experience, presenting yet another glimpse of where Jimi was headed musically when he sadly died far too young in 1970. To that, the heart breaking lyrics to this version of "Crash Landing" hints that Jimi was going to try and get clean off of the drugs (which ultimately lead to his demise); he clearly knew change was in the air:
"I'm going to spank your hands, and I'm gonna throw away your stupid needle, I'm gonna try to make love straight for the very first and last time."
Like its sister compilation albums South Saturn Delta, First Rays of the New Rising Sun (both of which I have on LP) and Valley of Neptune (which I only have on CD at present), People, Hell and Angels is exciting authentic listen. So if you are worried that this might be like the dubious mid 70s releases Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning, fear not. Original engineer and producer Eddie Kramer handled the mixes and has kept the music very clean and true to what Hendrix laid down - no new overdubs by session players will be found on these recordings.
What you will find are cool new song collaboarations like a tune recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with Albert and Arthur Allen (aka The Ghetto Fighters) called "Mojo Man." This track features session players of the renown Muscle Shoals Rhythm section -- who played on hits by Wilson Pickett and Etta James, among others -- as well as legendary New Orleans pianist James Booker (who played with everyone from Fats Domino to Jerry Garcia!). Hendrix also brings in -- and arranges a tune for -- his old boss Lonnie Youngblood to perform "Let Me Move You," which smokes.
The actual LP package is simple but exemplary, bearing black and white images printed on classy glossy silver cardboard stock. It includes a beautiful LP sized full color booklet with detailed information on each song plus great period photography.
If I have on nit, its that one side of one disc is a bit off center -- but fortunately this is not the type of music that is horribly ruined by such a phenomenon. Jimi rocks right through it all and I didn't notice any significant deterioration of the sound. So, its cool. I'll keep my copy, which is #218 in the numbered series.
Go grab yours now, put your speakers out the window and let your freak flag fly again anew. Jimi lives on forever. You can read more about and order it at the offiical Hendrix website at http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/news/jimi-hendrixs-people-hell-angels-coming-march-5-2013