Electric Ladyland [CD/DVD]
Jimi Hendrix's third and final album with the original Experience found him taking his funk and psychedelic sounds to the absolute limit. The result was not only one of the best rock albums of the era, but also Hendrix's original musical vision at its absolute apex. When revisionist rock critics refer to him as the maker of a generation's mightiest dope music, this is the album they're referring to. But Electric Ladyland is so much more than just background music for chemical intake. Kudos to engineer Eddie Kramer (who supervised the remastering of the original two-track stereo masters for this reissue) for taking Hendrix's visions of a soundscape behind his music and giving it all context, experimenting with odd mike techniques, echo, backward tape, flanging, and chorusing, all new techniques at the time, at least the way they're used here. What Hendrix sonically achieved on this record expanded the concept of what could be gotten out of a modern recording studio in much the same manner as Phil Spector had done a decade before with his Wall of Sound. As an album, this influential (and as far as influencing more than one generation of players, this was his ultimate statement for many), the highlights speak for themselves: "Crosstown Traffic," his reinterpretation of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," "Burning of the Midnight Lamp," the spacy "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)," and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," a landmark in Hendrix's playing. With this double set (now on one compact disc), Hendrix once again pushed the concept album to new horizons.
The 2010 Legacy edition adds a short documentary DVD featuring interviews with Chas Chandler, Mitch Mitchell, and Noel Redding, as well as Eddie Kramer in the studio with the multi-track masters. Kramer does some interesting track isolating on "Crosstown Traffic," "Voodoo Chile," "1983," and "Gypsy Eyes" (where he shares some alternate intros). There are also some cool images and film footage of Jimi shown while the music takes center stage. But this mini documentary focuses more about chronicling the growing rift and ultimate split between Jimi on one side, and Chas and Noel on the other, than celebrating and dissecting the music itself. As such, it's the least engaging of these new mini-documentaries, although still worthwhile. ~ Cub Koda & Sean Westergaard