Hendrix – People, Hell & Angels
possible (and it probably is, I’m just not capable) there would be a blinking
warning that reads, “The person writing this review adores the music of Jimi
Hendrix… BEWARE! (or not).”
am so much a fan that I, a generally free-wheelin’ every day is different kind
of guy, have a steadfast and singular daily ritual. At least once every day
that I’m on this earth I listen to the music of Jimi Hendrix.
I try to explain what his music does to me, emotionally, spiritually and
physically, I’m always afraid I’ll demystify it and end up in a much worse
place in all three of those categories, so I continue to let it wash over me
and never question its impact. The result of this stone free love, as you can
probably guess, is that I purchase everything that is released, dug out of a
bin, or found far in the outer recesses of the internet. I ordered People, Hell
& Angels on the day it was announced. And like a 10-year-old I waited, and waited, and
waited, and waited. Until, like a 10-year-old, I’d forgotten I’d ordered it.
just because I purchase “everything” do not mistake this as me loving
“everything.” I may know that Jimi is a genius nonpareil but that doesn’t make
me an undiscerning consumer. I mean many of the Dagger Records releases from
Authentic Hendrix border on the unlistenable: low fidelity audience recordings which cannot be
massaged into life by love or modern technology. For instance, the recently
purchased Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live in Cologne is something I can’t recommend but would still refuse to sell. It is important
for Jimi-philes but extended listenings turn grating, irritating and tiring.
And the download actually has more life and sounds better than the vinyl, which
is always a bad warning sign.
finally there was a knock on my door and… People, Hell & Angels descended
from my postal deliverer’s into my grubby little hands. And I’ve got to tell
you right up front, THIS, my friends, IS JUST WHAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! Yes buy it… in every format… whatever format,
I don’t care and I won’t be coy. If you dig Jimi Hendrix you’ll love this.
These recordings may have been one off’s or “incomplete” or cut together but
each of them is remarkable in its own right. Beautifully mixed by Eddie Kramer
and meticulously mastered by Bernie Grundman they are the final Hendrix studio
recordings. And they are glorious! And that they’re seeing the light of day is
a treasure for us all.
People, Hell & Angels opens with Band
of Gypsys performing “Earth Blues” which you may have heard on Live At The
Fillmore East, First Rays of the New Rising Sun, The Baggy’s Rehearsal Tapes but you can hear the difference immediately. It’s
sparse, somewhat dry and in your face. It makes you feel as if you’re sitting
in the control room wearing headphones and staring through the glass as Jimi, Buddy and Billy lay it
down right before your eyes. Jimi’s voice sounds as warm as I’ve ever heard it,
and the song is tight and, dare I say it, funky. After a single play of this first
song I realized two things.
A) It’s easy to see why Jimi wanted to play
with his old friends
B) Every penny I spent on this release was
Hendrix Estate and various people and entities have been exhuming the remains
of his prodigious recording history, to varying degrees of success, since the
day he died. I mean there’s everything from the complete Fillmore East shows
(which I thank them for every day) to Crash Landing (which should have resulted
in someone being sent to the corn field) but they’ve really stepped up to the
plate here and done good. Real good.
if everything on the record isn’t essential it’s at least interesting. I know I
won’t seek out “Inside Out” because I really need to hear it again but I will
“Hey Gypsy Boy” (which is basically an early version of “Hey Baby.”) It is slow
and languid and evokes thoughts of 3:00AM sessions, cigarettes, wine and
waiting for everyone to slow down enough to play something at the tempo you
want. I might not put “Mojo Man” on eternal rotation or put the needle back to
the start when it ends, but I like it enough to dance to it while I’m cooking
dinner. And did we really need ANOTHER version of “Hear My Train a Comin’?”
Yes. We did. There’s a point about 2:10 into this version (once again featuring
Buddy Miles and Billy Cox) where he plays a sour note and it feels so live and
bluesy and so real that when he powers ahead with the solo you hope he plays
that bad note again. My mind travels. My soul melts. And there’s that feeling I
get. Musical rapture.
then, recorded on the same day, a version of Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart”
which is the best version of the song I’ve heard by Jimi. It percolates. It slashes. It grinds. It is
fine American electric blues. If Eric Clapton hears this there will be a
Hendrix covers album in his future. He’ll become Jimi again.
are discoveries and many joys to be had on People, Hell & Angels. Whether
the soul shout rave up of “Let Me Move
You” or the peaceful bliss of the studio rendering of Woodstock’s “Villanova
Junction Blues” you will not be disappointed in this record.
once again I’d be remiss if I didn’t commend Eddie Kramer and Bernie Grundman
for what they’ve done with this music. The vinyl sounds f’ing immaculate and
the download, although it doesn’t have the life of the vinyl sounds pretty damn
good. I’m going to give it the car test this weekend. I’m certain it will rock
this will be it boys and girls, the last resurrection of Hendrix studio
recordings (according to Kramer). There are “future live releases planned” but
it looks like they’ve taken the best of what was left and assembled it here.
And yes that makes me sad, because I want to believe there’re more pristine
Jimi studio recordings somewhere. Another version of “Voodoo Chile” or a killer
studio version of “Lord I Sing The Blues For You and Me” but it’s not
beware, the end is nigh. It seems that soon Jimi will finally be able to rest.
His studio journey is now complete and in the not too distant future his music
catalog will finally become still. And this is a perfect and appropriate place
for it to end… with People, Hell & Angels.
Poore is a writer, director and musician permanently rooted in Southern
California. He hosts the long running music show “Nights At The Sound Table,”
is currently filming a documentary “Long Playing” and has actually been in the
presence of, and reached out and touched, Jimi Hendrix’s personal record
collection. He was high for days. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.