Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis: Bold As Love (1967)


Released December 1967

This was the transitional album sandwiched between two classics in "Are You Experience?" and the behemoth that was "Electric Ladyland". It is probably the group's most experimental, diverse album. It mixes hard rock, psychedelia, r 'n' b and, at times, jazz. There are no lengthy, extended semi-jams like "Voodoo Child", the longest track is five and a half minutes. Most are around the two and a half to three minute mark, giving the album a brisk, breezy, upbeat feel. In many ways, it is Hendrix's most accessible, dare I say it, almost "pop" album. Not really, of course, but when compared to the other two, it seems slightly that way. It has considerable psychedelic beauty, a spaced-out druggy masterpiece that certainly should not be dismissed. It tapped into the zeitgeist of late 1967, following "Sgt. Pepper" and coming out at the same time as "Their Satanic Majesties Request", and having an Indian-inspired cover. Far out, man.


1. EXP
2. Up From The Skies
3. Spanish Castle Magic
4. Wait Until Tomorrow
5. Ain't No Telling
6. Little Wing
7. If 6 Was 9
8. You Got Me Floatin'
9. Castles Made Of Sand
10. She's So Fine
11. One Rainy Wish
12. Little Miss Lover
13. Bold As Love                              

"EXP" is a minute or two of silliness that wastes everyone's time, unfortunately. The album really starts with "Up From The Skies" - an unusually jazzy number with a laid-back groove and soulful vocal. "Spanish Castle Magic", while having some heavy guitar, also had some funky moments. "Wait Until Tomorrow" is quite melodic and again has a soulful vibe to it, especially to Hendrix's vocal and the infectious bass line. It also has a very funky guitar riff.

"Ain't No Telling" is a catchy, lively rock number, while "Little Wing" is a slow, deep blues-influenced rock ballad. "If 6 Was 9" continues with the muscular, slow blues sound and it flirts with jazz rhythms at times. "You Got Me Floatin'" is a perfect piece of slightly Eastern-influenced upbeat psychedelic rock. "Castles Made Of Sand" has an intoxicating drum sound and a sightly rap-ish vocal from Hendrix. You know, stuff like this would prove to be so influential. "She's So Fine" actually sounds like The Small Faces meet Cream and then let The Who join in. Very late sixties. It has a huge rumbling bass too. The guitar is wonderful. I love this one.

"One Rainy Wish" is dreamy and bucolic, with Hendrix all hippy and going on tunefully about flowers and fields. It still finds time to have a solid, thumping chorus part, though. "Little Miss Lover" has a funky drum intro and some huge, chunky guitar from Hendrix. The title track is a sumptuous, addictive soul/rock number with some excellent guitar near the end.

The sound, as on all the Hendrix albums, is a bit hissy, but there is none of the strange dropping out of sound between the speakers that so blights some of "Electric Ladyland". It is a most interesting album and, very like The Doors' "The Soft Parade" and, to a certain extent, "Waiting For The Sun", its shorter tracks are worthy of more attention than they seem to get. Yes, the other two albums are better, but this one is not without its appeal.


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