Classic Rock Review

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Jimi Hendrix People, Hell And Angels (2013)

Hendrix People Hell and AngelsFrom

The folks who cobbled together “People, Hell & Angels,” for the estate of the late Jimi Hendrix, have been making a lot of broad claims about their product.

It’s supposed to give us 12 “previously unreleased” studio recordings “completed” by Hendrix. It’s also meant to provide a “compelling window into his growth as a songwriter, musician and producer,” offering “tantalizing new clues” to the direction Hendrix was testing for a fourth studio album. This was to be a proposed double-set sequel to 1968’s “Electric Ladyland.”

Of course, Hendrix never recorded — let alone released — that album, so it’s hard to say just how “complete” the man himself may have considered these songs. While it’s true none of these recordings have come out before, nearly all have been issued in different versions in the 43 years since the guitar god left this earthly plane.

In that time, it seems like more “lost” Hendrix recordings have been found than we now have reality shows — some of them every bit as dubious. As a consequence, only the most extreme Hendrix-ologist could divine the precise rarity of these recordings. But even a cursory listen makes this clear: The newfangled, and boldly explorative, Hendrix alleged here, captured between 1968 and ’69, doesn’t sound all that different from the one we’ve long loved. At root, it’s still killer psychedelic rock-soul, very much of its time.

The disc does find the icon working with some different musicians, including Steven Stills (on bass!), along with a second guitarist on some tracks (h is old friend Larry Lee).

Hendrix also brings in horns and other singers for some cameos. Even if these “clues” somehow “tantalize” you, they hardly provide solid evidence of any revolutionary direction fans might have imagined for the icon.

Of course, the mold Hendrix already set had more than enough juice and innovation to thrill, and if you’re a nerd about this stuff, the incremental changes teased here will excite.

It’s fun to hear the guitar immortal working with horns. In “Let Me Move You,” he features saxist Lonnie Youngblood for a blisteringly fast rock-soul workout, much in the manic mode of Ike and Tina Turner. “Mojo Man” sees Hendrix helping out old Harlem friends, the Ghetto Fighters, who sing lead, while horns pump and a rolling piano brings in a touch of New Orleans.

The funky take on “Crash Landing” rescues it from a 1975 version that caused a scandal by employing posthumously tacked-on studio musicians. But the most worthy cut is “Easy Blues,” an instrumental that’s twice as long as a take that appeared on a now-out-of-print album from 1981. As guitarist Lee plays foil, Hendrix peels out leads that fly so high, they’ll leave every guitarist who came in his wake reeling in wonder.

March 16, 2013 - Posted by | Jimi Hendrix People Hell And Angels |

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