Forty-two years after Jimi Hendrix first hit the charts and forever changed the sonic possibilities of guitar, he remains the undisputed king of feedback and other techniques that tickle the brainpan. These are the 10 brightest jewels in his psychedelic crown:
1) Purple Haze (Are You Experienced, 1967). With its acid drenched lyrics, see-saw riff, and crinkling-metal and feedback crescendo, this single beat the Jimi Hendrix Experiences debut album to the streets and the charts by two months, but remains an indelible classic and the greatest psychedelic hit ever recorded. A sizzling live version was also part of Jimis historic Woodstock performance.
2) 3rd Stone from the Sun (Are You Experienced, 1967). This literally swinging mini-symphony of feedback and slow-sped vocals is also the finest example of Jimis whammy bar technique. Listen to the way he rides the signature riff with the bar, and later uses it to whip wailing feedback to his command. Its still jaw dropping after 42 years. And if you ever wondered just what Jimis saying.
3) Machine Gun (Band of Gypsys, 1970). Jimi brought his improvisational genius to play at the New Years Eve show where this sonic protest anthem was recorded, channeling John Coltrane, the Civil Rights struggle, and the Vietnam War in twelve-and-a-half minutes of feedback and melody-pumped distortion.
4) Are You Experienced? (Are You Experienced, 1967). With more mysterious layers than an Alfred Hitchcock whodunit, this sonic sculpture including feedback, backwards tracks and other tape manipulation was the grand finale to Hendrixs debut album and an invitation to join the eras psychedelic parade. If you can just get your/mind together
5) Burning of the Midnight Lamp (Electric Ladyland, 1968). Proof that harpsichord is the original psychedelic instrument, although it physically absent in the short promo film the Experience made for the song. Front and center, however, is Jimis gorgeous self-painted psychedelic Gibson Flying V.
6) Castles Made of Sand (Axis: Bold As Love, 1967). This gentle blues based masterpiece displays Jimis exceptional ability to craft tape-reversed guitar parts as well as the impact of one of his primary influences, Bob Dylan.
7) Drifting (Cry of Love, 1971). Jimis sophisticated studio technique and conceptual abilities had grown to the point where he was able to harmonize backwards guitar and feedback tracks on this gorgeous ballad.
8) And the Gods Made Love (Electric Ladyland, 1968). The double-LP sequel to Axis covered all aspects of Jimis creativity thanks to its sheer volume of tunes. And this mini-symphony of feedback, tape manipulation, and pure noise including Jimi whacking his guitar that kicked off the set is its mind-expanding overture.
9) Star Spangled Banner (Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, 1970). There has never been a bolder performance of the National Anthem than Jimis version at Woodstock. And while the fireworks he pulls from his guitar sounds psychedelic, this historic performance is actually an extremely articulate summation of the late 60s beauty and conflict.
10) EXP (Axis Bold As Love, 1967). Ever witness a Martian spacecraft blasting off? Well, listen to this.
Photo Credit: (top) W. Warner
Article Credit:Ted Drozdowski