Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No. 15: Are You Experienced

Band: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Album: Are You Experienced
Why Rolling Stone gets it right:Jimi Hendrix is considered by many to be the greatest guitar player of all time. In describing him, the New York Times said one of his shows sounded like "Heavy metal falling from the sky." Some of his classic songs occupy "Are You Experienced," in "Hey Joe," "Foxey Lady," and "Manic Depression." Also, "Purple Haze."
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: This is probably the best-rated album on this list. It's not a top 10 situation, but Hendrix absolutely needs to be close to the top.
Best song: I love waltzes, and "Manic Depression" is an awesome waltz.
Worst song: I'm not a huge "Stone Free" fan.
Is it awesome?: Absolutely.

As I mention above, Hendrix doesn't occupy the same place as the Beatles, Stones or Dylan (and, I'd add Floyd, Zeppelin, Sabbath and Nirvana to the top 10), but he certainly needs to be up there. "Are You Experienced" is probably the most well-known of the three Experience records, so this is the pick to use.

It's hard to not like Hendrix, but I'll try to play Henley's Advocate -- a phrase I'll explain in a few weeks when I review "Hotel California" -- I'll say that his hippy nonsense makes it hard to take some of the lyrics seriously. When he claims that "Purple Haze" isn't about drugs, it's hard to take him seriously. I just find his records lacking in emotion, on some level, as the only emotion Hendrix probably felt during those years was "stoned."

I'm not the world's greatest Hendrix fan; I'm more lukewarm on him than I should be, probably. I like the singles a lot ("Manic Depression" specifically, as I love waltzes), but the non-single album tracks just don't float my boat.

1 comment:

bob_vinyl said...

There's no doubt that Hendrix belongs this high on the list, but he wasn't a great songwriter and this wasn't his best album. However, when you consider what it must have been like to hear this album in 1967, it's place is secure even if "Purple Haze" is one of the most poorly written songs to ever become iconic.