The last studio album recorded by Jimi Hendrix is arguably his best. Recording began in early 1968 at Record Plant Studios, New York and ended in August the same year. Compared to his previous two albums ‘Are You Experienced’ and ‘Axis: Bold As Love’, Electric Ladyland is more jam based and has more of a relaxed and laid back feel throughout. It’s a cracking album and really shows how experimental Hendrix was at this time in sounds that were created on the album.
Even though the album has a laid back feel, the recording sessions weren’t so laid back. Both Chas Chandler (manager and producer) and Noel Redding (bassist) fell out with Hendrix on the direction the album was going. They both preferred shorter songs with more of a direction than 15 minute jams and loose songs containing just feedback. Because of this Hendrix took over the role of producer and also played bass on several tracks. Guest musicians were also brought in on some songs like the the 15 minute ‘Voodoo Chile’.
- …And The Gods Made Love
- Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
- Crosstown Traffic
- Voodoo Chile
- Little Miss Strange
- Long Hot Summer Night
- Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)
- Gypsy Eyes
- Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
- Rainy Day, Dream Away
- 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
- Moon, Turn The Tides…Gently Gently Away
- Still Raining, Still Dreaming
- House Burning Down
- All Along The Watchtower
- Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
The album in some places can be compared to a journey, certainly starting with the fantastic ‘Rainy Day, Dream Away’ until ‘Still Raining, Still Dreaming’. The tracks in between these two songs are very much like a dream. ‘1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)’ really stands out and is one of the most psychedelic songs that Hendrix recorded. It features him on guitars, bass and vocals with Mitch Mitchell on drums. The track is also layered with various different overdubs, using spanning techniques, backward guitar parts and controlled feedback that sound like the wind. It’s fantastic, a masterpiece! ‘Moon, Turn The Tides…Gently, Gently’ is the final track in this dream sequence and features only swirling feedback which is superb.
The longest track on the album ‘Voodoo Chile’ is 15 minutes long and features guest musicians and friends of Hendrix. They included Steve Winwood on hammond organ and Jack Cassidy on bass with Mitch Mitchell remaining on drums. It’s a fantastic track. Recorded in three takes one evening after the musicians involved met and jammed at a club, this is the final take. It sounds very much like a live track and you can hear the audience cheering in places, but they were added after the band had recorded it.
‘Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)’, ‘Gypsy Eyes’, ‘House Burning Down’, ‘Long Hot Summer Night’, ‘Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’ and ‘Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)’ are some of the best tracks on the album. Unlike the previous songs mentioned, these are definitely more focused recordings and are more traditional song based rather than going off into a jam. ‘Crosstown Traffic’, ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ and ‘All Along The Watchtower’ are known by everyone as classic Hendrix recordings.
The album also features a track written and recorded by bassist Noel Redding when Hendrix failed to turn up to the studio one day. ‘Little Miss Strange’ features Redding on guitar and lead vocals, bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. There is a Hendrix solo but this was added later on after he had heard the recording. It’s a very British sounding track compared to the others on the album, and this is why it was included on the final release. Hendrix loved it.
I could go on and on about this album, it’s brilliant. I seriously recommend you having it in your collection if you don’t already. Everyone knows the singles, but the album tracks are where the real Hendrix magic lives. Every single track is fantastic. But I also recommend you get the DVD documentary ‘Classic Albums – Electric Ladyland’. It’s a brilliant insight into the recording of the album and features interviews with the musicians on it, people Hendrix knew at the time and most importantly Eddie Kramer who engineered every single Hendrix album. It’s a must.