|The Jimi Hendrix Experience:
Are You Experienced Label: MCA
Jimi Hendrix was not only arguably the greatest rock guitar player of all time. That’s merely what the late, great artist is known for. But what made Hendrix even more compelling is the fact that he wrote songs that were the perfect vehicles for his insane guitar chops, had a super cool rock voice, and made his songs palatable to just about anyone with ears. In addition, his penchant for melody makes these songs linger on at every classic rock format forty years later. But for all of the amazing things about Are You Experienced, the most amazing thing is that it was Hendrix’ debut album.
Of the original 11 tracks, the most recognizable are “Purple Haze,” “Manic Depression,” “Hey Joe,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Fire,” and “Foxy Lady.” And each one had something different and interesting to offer. “Purple Haze” is easily one of the best rock songs ever, but it also has that signature guitar riff that every kid growing up with an electric guitar in hand has to learn. “Manic Depression” somehow made a psychological disorder seem cool. “Hey Joe” is a blunter approach to spousal abuse than anything you might hear today, but somehow Hendrix made it acceptable while also being strangely melodic. “The Wind Cries Mary” had some of the prettier guitar licks Hendrix ever offered. And both “Fire” and “Foxy Lady” had strong sexual implications as well as pure rock bliss. But there was much more to Are You Experienced, including the psychedelic-sounding “May This Be Love” and the nearly seven-minute-long, guitar-heavy epic, “Third Stone from the Sun.”
This album was released in the UK with a different track listing, so when MCA re-issued it on CD, they added some bonus tracks and B-sides that were on the UK version.
“Red House” is probably the most notable of those songs—a shuffling, noodling bluesy classic that is one of the best tracks in Hendrix’ catalog.
Are You Experienced defined the start of Hendrix’ career, and it’s still recognized in many circles as one of the greatest rock albums ever. In fact, it’s so embedded in the fabric of the rock landscape that on a clear day you can probably still hear Jimi wailing on his Telecaster from somewhere in the sky.