Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels
In 1971, Tony Glover of Rolling Stone magazine said "Jimi Hendrix plays delta blues for sure, only that delta may be on Mars".
That is my favorite description of Jimi Hendrix. One I think he would be comfortable with. For a man who spent precious few years in a recording studio, the body of work he recorded, when he wasn't touring or taking a little time off is staggering. It is this seemingly endless wealth of recordings that has led to speculation for years as to what direction he was going to go in at the time he died at 27 years of age.
We knew a couple of things. He was feeling stagnant with the "Experience" and wanted to branch out musically. The Band Of Gypsies album is a pretty good barometer of where he wanted to go. The tragedy here is, we will never really know.
Ever since his passing, many pothsumous releases have been heralded as the album that Hendrix had wanted to be the follow up to Electric Ladyland. Releases like Cry Of Love, Midnight Lightning, Crash Landing, War Heroes and various reworkings of those and other albums have been all over the marketplace. Within the last couple of years we were treated to another statement of the follow up to Ladyland with Valleys Of Neptune. Again, a nice collection of unreleased songs (on a studio album during Hendrix's breathing years). And now a collection called "People Hell And Angels". I do see a real difference in the way this album plays compared to the others. It's not hard to tell that the recordings are from different times, but the album plays more like a cohesive album than the other rehashes did. I would find this album to be a suitable follow up to Axis Bold As Love, than I would Ladyland. But again, any speculation as to there Hendrix was going after his lifetime ended is speculation. Bleeding heart and Easy Blues sound like studio jam sessions. Hendrix was notorious for recording "everything", which may possible enrage Hendrix to know that so much of his unreleased collection has been strewn about very generously for over 40 years.
Hendrix was a perfectionist in the studio. We can listen to these tracks and give them a passing grade, where as Hendrix himself would not with the ears that he had. We have to take into consideration his grading curve, and accept that it was much higher than the one we as listeners and fans gave him.
That being said. There are a lot of moments on this album which will give the most ardent fan an enjoyable listen. The sound quality of the recordings is very nice. Sonically it sounds better than most of the collections that have been bandied about.
People Hell and Angels may not be the follow up to Electric Ladyland that we all dream of hearing, but it is most definately an enjoyable look into the coolest of guitar slingers to have ever walked the planet, or any other planet.