Jimi Hendrix ‘People, Hell & Angels' (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)
For a guy who died in 1970, Jimi Hendrix has put out more albums in the last four decades than your average living guitar god who's been around since then. His latest “essential new album,” as the accompanying publicity describes it, is “People, Hell & Angels,” a collection of 12 recordings made outside of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience trio from 1968 through August 1970.
Alternate versions of almost all of these songs have appeared on albums released during Hendrix's lifetime or posthumously, but these takes are previously unreleased and in most cases superior variants to what we've heard in the past. For example, the stripped-down rendition of “Earth Blues” is far funkier than the original heard on 1971's “Rainbow Bridge,” with his Band of Gypsys partners Buddy Miles (drums) and Billy Cox (bass) laying down the solid bottom line.
“Somewhere” was first heard on 1975's controversial “Crash Landing,” when producer Alan Douglas had control of Hendrix's recordings and was shamelessly overdubbing them with studio musicians. Here, a newly discovered version features Miles on drums and then-Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills moonlighting on bass, while Hendrix tears it up cosmic-blues style with some wah-wah wildness.
There are some true rarities here, too, including the rollicking R&B steamroller “Let Me Love You,” with Hendrix allowing his old chitlin' circuit partner Lonnie Youngblood to take the spotlight on vocals and sax while Jimi trots out his solid old soul licks. “Easy Blues” is a freewheeling instrumental jam featuring Hendrix's superb Woodstock ensemble of Cox, ex-Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and second guitarist Larry Lee, another old friend from the chitlin' days.
And Hendrix trips on his R&B past once again when he adds tasty chops to the brassy “Mojo Man,” which features Albert Allen of the Ghetto Fighters on lead vocals.
Other unadulterated alternate-take highlights include a beautifully raw cover of Elmore James' “Bleeding Heart” and a blues-drenched version of “Hear My Train A Comin',” both recorded with Miles and Cox in their first studio session together.
Just when you think you've experienced Hendrix, he surprises you all over again, 43 years later.
— Gene Triplett