The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced - Review
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critics' view

After struggling throughout the 60s to make a decent living as a sideman, Jimi Hendrix emerged in late ’66 with his own group, made in London, his new home. They were a hit from the start, with “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze” both finding a place in the UK Top 10. At the time of their debut LP, issued in May ’67, they were: Jimi Hendrix (24, guitar, vocals); Noel Redding (21, bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Mitch Mitchell (19, drums). Hendrix, the clear leader, commented: “We don't want to be classed in any category… If it must have a tag, I'd like it to be called ‘Free Feeling’. It's a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave and blues”. His schtick was simple: drive it up to eleven, revel in that feedback, turn on those wah-wah pedals, twist those rhythms and beats and sneer all the while. With “Are You Experienced?”, Jimi’s at the forefront of the rock revolution – in his hands, the whole genre is a thrill rather than a bore. Virtuoso play was never so inventive and exciting as it was right here. The album was a big success in Britain; readers of Melody Maker voted Jimi as the Pop Musician of the Year. Only “Sgt Pepper” prevented the LP from hitting the No.1 spot in the charts. There were no hard feelings on Jimi’s part – he played “Sgt Pepper” in the JHE live sets, a gesture which Paul McCartney described as “one of the greatest honours of my career.” The album rocked all over the world, hitting the Top 10 Stateside. James the sideman was a thing of the past. “Move over Rover, and let Jimi take over…”

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