Monday, July 30, 2007

No. 82: Axis: Bold As Love

Band: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Album: Axis: Bold As Love
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Hendrix' weakest studio album is still Hendrix. It features one of the (if not the) first stereo flange effects, as well as some of the first wah-wah type guitar sounds.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It really is the weakest of the Hendrix albums. There are no real great songs here, though a lot of people love "Little Wing."
Best song: "Little Wing," "If 6 Was 9" and "Spanish Castle Magic" are the three best songs on the album.
Worst song: "Little Miss Lover" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: I'd say no.

Jimi Hendrix certainly played a great guitar and was like no one else. He was also incredibly self-indulgent. This is good in some cases; Half of the genius "Electric Ladyland" is masturbatory. "Axis," however, suffers from Hendrix' self-indulgence.

The three best songs on the record wouldn't crack the top five songs on the Experience's other two albums and each is masturbatory in its own way. "Little Wing" is about Hendrix' dead mother (which is fine), but the naming of the song is taken from Hendrix' Native American guardian spirit, which is a little much for most white rock audiences. "Spanish Castle Magic" is a song about Hendrix' high school bands and "If 6 Was 9" is some nonsense about how conformity is bad (no way!).

Hendrix has a lot of "teenager wearing Che Guevara shirt having just read 'The Communist Manifesto' and is now declaring himself a revolutionary" in him. His drug-addled idealism, thankfully, is mostly relegated to "If 6 Was 9," though "Wait Until Tomorrow" has some strains of it.

"Axis" is a nice little record, on some level. It has a few good songs ("Little Wing" has been covered by everyone, so someone likes it), but it's nowhere near "Are You Experienced?" or "Electric Ladyland" and it doesn't deserve to be ranked 82.

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