I decided I wanted to do Electric Ladyland pretty much as soon as I started it, despite my earlier post saying I might not. Even as "...And The Gods Made Love" began, I knew I had a lot of things to say about this album.
Electric Ladyland is the final official album released by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. That is, if you don't count all the posthumous records released well after his death, like the very recent Valleys of Neptune. Unless someone can convince me otherwise, the only other Hendrix album I intend to possess is Band of Gypsies. But anyway, this album is where we get to see the culmination of just about every style of music Hendrix knew. I had a lot of anxiety going into this album because of the length, about 75 minutes, and I had had some slight trouble enjoying the Experience's other albums at normal length. Namely it was the two epic tracks, "Voodoo Chile" (not to be confused with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" which is what you are likely familiar with) and "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)," that scared me the most, but I'll explain why I actually did enjoy these tracks in a minute.
The album opens with a weird, nonsense track similar to "EXP" on Axis, but that's about where the similarities end. In fact, where the first two albums are rather straightforward, this is truly a psychedelic experience perfect for the trippy drug of your choice. I think this was the first time I truly understood the term and its meaning; many of the tracks put me in a sort of trance state where I was engrossed in the music. One of the very first differences I noticed was how this record ends up being the singingest I've ever heard Hendrix. "Have You Ever Been" and "Crosstown Traffic" are great examples of how Hendrix really could sing if he just tried hard enough. I said the same thing about "May This Be Love" from Are You Experienced? It shows well in the rest of the tracks, too. Compared to his albums from just a year prior, he could almost be called good.
But we don't really listen to The Jimi Hendrix Experience for his lyrics, do we? We listen for the guitar! I listen for the drums, too, but Hendrix is known more as a guitarist than a singer. I know this when I listen to songs like "Voodoo Chile," when I'm entranced by his guitar playing even in the slowest parts. It's funny now that I wanted not to listen to that song. My thinking before-hand that it would just be so long and boring, but somehow it hooked me and reeled me in. My thinking during and after is this: most of the time when I listen to extra long songs like the Abbey Road Medley or just about any Dream Theater song, I enjoy it because it's basically multiple different songs blended into one (which is especially true of the Medley, because it really is a bunch of different songs and comes as such. I always listen to them all at once, though). But this time, even though it was 15 minutes of a song that's just the same from beginning to end, I enjoyed it a lot, so in many ways this was the longest song I've ever enjoyed.
Like I said, Hendrix really shows his musical diversity in this album. "Voodoo Chile" for instance is a blues jam, as well as "Come On." "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" brings us a psychedelic side, the pop, almost Beatles parody of "Little Miss Strange," the rock god of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," the Bob Dylan avant-garde guitary cover of "All Along the Watchtower" and the studio epic "1983..."
Overall, a classic must have, this is. Any aspiring guitarist should already own all of Jimi Hendrix' works, as well as any psychedelic song-writer, afro-enthusiest, or really anyone in particular.
PS: Unfortunately, Playlist.com is having trouble with, well, it's function: making playlists. I can't add songs, and won't be able to until they fix it. Until then, you'll have to resort to YouTube videos. Sorry about that, I'll add a playlist as soon as they're back up.