Headphones: Hendrix Has Risen

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Since 2010, the combination of Legacy Records and “Experience Hendrix” have released two albums comprised of the best unreleased tracks from rock and roll legend Jimi Hendrix. On March 9th, the most recent installment of the unreleased songs, Both Sides of The Sky, was released featuring ten new Hendrix tracks. The 13-song album features the amazing guitar talents of Hendrix along contributions from other prominent rock artists such Buddy Miles (drums), Billy Cox (bass guitar), and Stephen Stills (vocals).

The album, currently sitting at number eight on the Billboard 200 list, is the conclusion to a trilogy of albums featuring unreleased and unheard Hendrix tracks. The first of the posthumously released albums, Valleys of Neptune, reached as high as number four on the Billboard list and the second, People, Hell and Angels ranking as high as two on the list. Nearly two weeks after its release, Both Sides of The Sky has already cracked the top five and is expected to reach as high as the first or second spots. All three albums were reportedly recorded in 1969, just one year after Hendrix released Electric Ladyland and just one year before the artist’s death.

In the album’s opener, a mix of the Buddy Miles classic “Mannish Boy”, Hendrix speeds the pace and tempo of the track with a guitar rift paired with the rhythmic drums of Miles and bass of Billy Cox. Leaving behind the traditional blues sound of the track, Hendrix revamps the song using the fast-paced guitar chords amplified with the use of a wah-wah pedal. Hendrix’s version of the song is just another variation, in which Miles has released many throughout his career.

“$20 Fine”, an original song from vocalist and writer Stephen Stills, shows off Hendrix’s skill of sound manipulation in a more traditional rock track. The song features a deep guitar rift behind the soulful voice of Stills. Originally recorded in the late 1960s, the song is far ahead of its own time. The song crosses generations, appealing to rock and roll fans of the 80s and 90s.

There are countless reasons for why Jimi Hendrix is such a household name in the rock and roll world. Despite his early death at the age of 27, the Hendrix name still lives on nearly 48 years later. His ability to create music for fans of many different genres combined with his godly talents on the guitar are just some of the reasons behind his generational legacy.

“Georgia Blues”, the album’s longest track sitting at seven minutes and 55 seconds, as stated in the title is a beautifully typical blues song. Hendrix lays the base of the song with his whaling guitar chords, accompanied by a soothing high-hat drum beat and the elegant sound of the organ. Late in the song, Georgia-born saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood adds a breathtaking saxophone solo to go along with the combined sound of Hendrix. Youngblood also provides the vocals for the track, adding his Southern flair to the traditional blues tune.

“Georgia Blues” is another perfect example of Hendrix’s ability to play the guitar for multiple genres of music. On this album, we see him explore the depths of rock and soul music. On the track with Lonnie Youngblood, Hendrix brings his talents South by jamming to the tune of a blues song. Hendrix’s talent on the guitar crosses genres smoother than almost anybody who’s played the chords since his unfortunate death.

“Woodstock” is an original track written by former folk and rock artist Joni Mitchell and performed by Hendrix with the assistance of Stephen Stills vocal talent. The song is built around a tremendously simple drum line, with Stills laying a simple progression on the organ to shape the tune of the track. Once again displaying his full range of musical talents, Jimi Hendrix hops on the bass guitar for “Woodstock”. The track is a spiritual tribute to the 1969 music festival, at which Hendrix was the closing performer. Mitchell’s written lyrics, sung in this version by Stills, commemorates the iconic festival. With lyrics such as, “By the time we got to Woodstock/We were half a million strong/And everywhere there was song and celebration”, the track captures the spiritual beauty of the festival.

The newly released album captured the attention of fans of many genres, and multiple generations. With the album breaking the top ten of the Billboard 200 list of best albums, the potential for it continues to grow. Both Sides of the Sky provides the newer generations with sounds of Hendrix they would otherwise be unfamiliar with. The nostalgia it provides the older generations is unprecedented, as they have waited five long years to the hear the tracks originally recorded in 1969. The album also acts as a perfect conclusion to the trilogy of unreleased music that Legacy Records have released since 2010.

For the younger generation, who grew up without the sounds of Hendrix blessing their headphones, this album offers a beautiful tribute to Jimi Hendrix’s legacy. After the release of the first of the posthumous albums, fans knew that there was an entire vault of unreleased Hendrix tracks just waiting to see the light of day. Aside from just a modern-day Hendrix album, this track list is also just what today’s rock fans needed.

In a time where hip-hop and electronic music often run the Billboard charts, to see a classic rock album break the top ten is a breath of fresh air. The album strays from the normal rock albums of today, but instead offers a traditional sound unique to only one man within the genre. Although Jimi Hendrix has the ability to cross the genres in which he plays for, he still blesses fans with the sounds of the guitar 47 years after his death.