Written By Braddon S. Williams
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland
Jimi Hendrix was so much more than just a gifted guitarist. With his final studio album, 1968’s double disc opus Electric Ladyland, Hendrix exploded the boundaries of what was possible in a recording studio.
Assisted by ace engineer Eddie Kramer, Hendrix was able to utilize every aspect of the limited (though state of the art for the time) amount of tracks available, seemingly inventing sounds out of thin air and panning them left to right and surrounding the listener with a dense array of sonic textures.
Jimi had influences just like any other artist, but what set him apart was the fact that there was really no precedent for much of what he did in his short career. He had such a vivid musical imagination, and he found ways to make his visions come to life. Guitar effects pedals were invented from ideas he had and was able to communicate to the manufacturers.
In addition to all this innovative playing, the Experience also gathered some top notch guest stars, like Steve Winwood, Jack Casady, Chris Wood, Al Kooper, and Buddy Miles.
Jimi’s writing and singing always lived in the shadow of his playing, but he both wrote and sang some great stuff on Electric Ladyland. Voodoo Chile, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Gypsy Eyes, House Burning Down, Crosstown Traffic, 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be), Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, and Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) were all great pieces of work, but of course his iconic cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower was the song that drew the most attention. It was so good that Dylan himself started performing Hendrix’s arrangement of it in his own concerts.
Electric Ladyland stands as a monumental achievement of the psychedelic ’60’s, and a testament to Jimi Hendrix’s lasting status as one of the greatest guitarists (and musicians) in history.