Monday, 8 February 2016

Are You Experienced

by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

If there ever was a doubt that death is a smart career move, at least in rock’n’roll world, you should look no further than Are You Experienced, the greatest something and an endless source of greatest somethings of all time. Yes, untimely death can make even a mediocre musician interesting. In case of undoubtedly gifted and charismatic Hendrix, the move proved to be not just smart but stratospheric, rendering him practically a god. JHE was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Andy Beckett wrote in The Independent back in 1994:

Who’s still listening? The under-20s, daring heavy metal fans, grunge musicians (he was from Seattle), rock critics.
Add to this list yours truly, if only for a reason to understand what it’s all about. You see, I am no longer interested how critically acclaimed, or commercially successful, or revolutionary music was at the time. (In case of AYE: it was, it was, very much.) All I care about is whether I want to listen to this album now.

For me the answer is: not really. AYE features solid, occasionally great songwriting coupled with unpredictable guitar wizardry and consistently bad vocals. (The liner notes inexplicably claim that AYE is a concept album. Which is absurd, considering how radically different were the UK and American versions. Unless releasing two different albums under the same name was the concept. Why, the UK version didn’t even have Hey Joe, Purple Haze, and The Wind Cries Mary.)

Saying that, AYE still is head and shoulders above most of rock albums released this millennium. It’s just nowhere near the greatest album of all time. All time is a long time.

The Wind Cries Mary

After all the jacks are in their boxes
And the clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
Footprints dressed in red
And the wind whispers Mary

A broom is drearily sweeping
Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
Somewhere a king has no wife
And the wind, it cries Mary

The traffic lights they all true blue tomorrow
And shine their emptiness down on my bed
The tiny island sags downstream
Cause the life that lived is, is dead
And the wind screams Mary

Will the wind ever remember
The names it has blown in the past
And with his crutch, its old age, and it's wisdom
It whispers no, this will be the last
And the wind cries Mary

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