Are You Experienced?
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The Jimi Hendrix Experience released its first album in early 1967. Popular music had been leaning towards psychedelics for a couple years
already and Are You Experienced? came out at about the same time as the Beatles Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Are You
Experienced? far exceeded the Beatles triumph in complexity, capturing the essence of the late 1960s culture. Naturally the newer band did not
share the immediate success of the Beatles. But its staying power has been testified to by several generations.
The British version of Are You Experienced? contained a few subtle differences. Most prominent were the absence of “Purple Haze” and the
addition of Hendrix standard “Red House”. “Purple Haze” caught fire in America after the Monterey Pop Festival and became Jimis signature
song. Although it was said to have endless verses, Jimi generally sang only the shortened version from the album (with a few ad lib changes).
The single was sent to radio stations with a note: “This song was intentionally distorted. Do not adjust.”
Are You Experienced?, as with most of the Experiences music, sounds heavy no matter how many times you listen to it. In actuality, the stony
“Purple Haze” is about as close as they ever come to hard rock. The next song, “Manic Depression” comes in strong with the opening chords
and then reveals Mitch Mitchells trademark rolling drums. It also contains another of Jimis solos worth listening to by any new or Experienced
Chas Chandler chose the quietest song on the album to give the world its first taste of Jimi Hendrixs talents. Its first single, “Hey Joe”, a song
written by turn-of-the-century bluesman Billy Roberts debuted at number on the pop charts. No other song written or performed by Jimi
Hendrix had as much success as this one. It topped out at number 2, behind the Beatles “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds”.
When there are other people around, it makes you feel alive. But when you sit alone and listen to the music, every chord catches in your throat.
“Love or Confusion” has happened upon me more than once when I was suddenly realizing the despair
of yet another relationship. If the
answer to his question is not obvious during the song itself, Jimi answers it for you with his very last whisper. “Love or Confusion” is a wicked
twister of emotion. It shakes you up and when you lose your sense of direction, it drops out from under you, leaving you to fall mercilessly to
the depths of reality.
Thats when “May This Be Love” enters to let you down easily. Mitch turns on the soft roll. Jimi sings sweetly about his waterfall. The pace
picks up, getting hectic for a moment when Jimi recalls the other people.
Are You Experienced?