For newcomers to Jimi’s music, here is a quick guide to the BEST albums available today.
The Dagger Records albums are only available by mail order from the official site (see Links).
The deleted albums are quite easy to find second hand.
The unofficial releases mentioned here were widely available in regular distribution networks in Europe and Japan. They can still be found new or second hand on some sites.
I don’t encourage the purchase of these illegal releases. They were in high street shops and on legitimate web purchase sites, which is why I must detail them in this record guide.
1. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE 1966-1969
The greatest and most creative period in Jimi’s short career. The ultimate power trio, working in a multitude of styles, with a delicious fusion of blues, rock, R&B, jazz, and pop. Their three brilliant studio albums represent the heart of Jimi’s work as a songwriter and revolutionary musician.
Jimi’s three studio albums:
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED
The band’s debut album, which revolutionised rock music, is perhaps the best first purchase. The current CD edition include their first three killer singles “Hey Joe”, “Purple Haze”, and “The Wind Cries Mary” (plus their B-Sides), not forgetting other standards like “Red House”, “Foxy Lady” and “Fire” plus the elaborate “3rd Stone From The Sun”, “Love Or Confusion”, “I Don’t Live Today”, “Manic Depression”, the beautiful “May This Be Love” and the Beatles inspired title track.
AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE
The second album had less innovative punch than the first perhaps, but is full of charm. There are many heavy rock tracks but the album on the whole has a more lyrical and laid-back feel. If there are no hit singles present, there is a cluster of Hendrix classics such as “Little Wing”, “If Six Was Nine”, “Spanish Castle Magic” and beauties like “Castles Made Of Sand” , “Bold As Love”, “Up From The Skies” and “Little Miss Lover”.
Jimi’s unsurpassed masterpiece. This is one heavy album. Such a rich sound, some superb songs and just beautiful guitar playing. Originally a double vinyl which gave Jimi the chance to indulge in long blues workouts and almost a whole side devoted to the epic journey to Atlantis with “1983”. Also present are such classics as “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”, “All Along The Watchtower”, “Gypsy Eyes” and “Crosstown Traffic”. The greatest rock album of all time.
This double album was so good that it left Jimi little else to say in terms of psychedelic rock. The band split soon after as Jimi veered off towards a funkier R&B feel to his music while pushing towards jazz in parallel.
The best Jimi Hendrix Experience live albums:
The Dagger Records releases mentioned here are mail-order only from authentichendrix.com
LIVE AT THE MONTEREY POP FESTIVAL
An October 2007 re-release/remaster of the legendary compact show in the summer of love that trumpeted in the band’s US success.
A raw energetic sound while Jimi puts on his full stage show, culminating with the famous guitar smasher “Wild Thing”.
Previously available as “Jimi Plays Monterey”.
PARIS 1967 / SAN FRANCISCO 1968 (Dagger Records)
A single CD with excerpts from two excellent concerts.
PARIS 1967 (Dagger Records vinyl edition)
The same tracks as on the previous release but with two extra songs from the concert..
LIVE 1968 – Paris/Ottawa (Dagger)
This Paris show a few months later is terrific (previously seen on “Stages” – see further down). As a bonus there are three songs from the first show at Ottawa in the same year.
LIVE IN OTTAWA (Dagger)
A good raw recording form this Canadien date in early 1968 (2nd show of the night).
MIAMI POP FESTIVAL (Sony)
The band are on fine form for this classic mid-1968 concert.
A superb album of highlights of the band’s three night residency at the venue in October 1968. The previous release Live At Winterland was also excellent.
LOS ANGELES FORUM APRIL 26, 1969 (Sony)
A good performance from the final American tour in front of a riotous audience.
ROYAL ALBERT HALL 1969 (Charly – 3 versions & Purple Haze Records) – Unofficial – Deleted
A stunning document of the band in early 1969 at The Royal Albert Hall. Released in many forms over the years, Charly have three versions to choose from: “Experience – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (single CD), “Albert Hall Experience” (double CD) and “The Last Experience” (3 CDs with the entire show and some rather weak bonuses). The unofficial Purple Haze Records also released an excellent double CD (pictured) with the whole show (plus excellent soundcheck bonuses) as “An Evening With The Jimi Hendrix Experience”.
This show is lined up for a top quality Sony CD and a Blu-ray if ever the legal and production arguments are settled!
2. TRANSITION 1969-1970
After the whole psychedelic trip of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi took time off
to restructure his music with the help of old and new friends:
LIVE AT WOODSTOCK (Sony)
Gypsy Sun & Rainbows, or Jimi on stage with five other musicians (still including Mitch Mitchell of The Experience) in a relaxed and improvisational mood at the close of the famous festival in August 1969. The band were a bit tatty round the edges but there are some impressive moments along the way, including the legendary performance of “The Star Spangled Banner”.
BAND OF GYPSYS (Sony)
These recordings were selected by Jimi himself, from concerts that were organized in order to settle a legal battle. He kept Billy Cox from the Woodstock band and brought in the ex-Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles. This is perhaps the most untypical Hendrix album, where R’n’B meets hard rock. Jimi was on awesome form, notably on the historic “Machine Gun”. Miles takes lead vocals on two songs.
3. THE FINAL CHAPTER - 1970
Jimi prepared an album of his new brand of soul-tinged rock in 1970, but unfortunately he ran out of time.
CRY OF LOVE and RAINBOW BRIDGE (Sony)
A number of songs that Jimi had left in the can for his 4th studio album were released shortly after his death on these two superb albums.
A few previously unreleased Experience songs were included for good measure. The 1969-70 recordings are quite different from the Experience-era studio work, with Jimi leaning away from blues towards R&B with a strong rock base.
These are essential purchases (re-released in 2014) and are much better than the the poorly mastered “First Rays Of The Rising Sun” which featured all the “Cry Of Love” tracks and many from “Rainbow Bridge” and the following early 70s album.
WAR HEROES (deleted)
A third collection of superb left-over studio tracks and as essential as the two above releases. It also featured two superb Experience era instrumentals Tax Free and Midnight. The key tracks reappeared spread across the albums “First rays Of The New Rising Sun”, “South Saturn Delta” and in the purple box set.
FIRST RAYS OF THE NEW RISING SUN
A re-release of songs from the above three albums. All of Cry Of Love and selected tracks from Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes.
For audiophiles, the sound here is slightly inferior to the albums it was sourced from.
More songs from those albums were re-released on South Saturn Delta (see below).
1970 live albums:
LIVE AT BERKELEY – 2nd Show
The second show of the night, where Jimi sticks close to the old Experience repertoire. The newer songs were still being constructed in the studio and thus less affirmed.
FREEDOM – Atlanta Pop Festival 1970 (Sony)
A huge 1970 festival and a good performance even if Jimi wasn’t at his most exuberant.
OTHER ARCHIVE RECORDINGS
NINE TO THE UNIVERSE (Reprise) – Deleted
This eighties album gathered together some superb jazzy-bluesy studio jams. Some of it turned more recently (unedited) on “Hear My Music” and the somewhat disappointing “West Coast Seattle Boy” rarities box set .
SOUTH SATURN DELTA (Sony)
After “First Rays”, more highly finished left overs (from The Experience epoch also) plus some raw studio outtakes. Some tracks had already appeared on Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes.
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE (Sony)
A superb luxury 4 CD collection of demos, outtakes, alternate mixes, old rarities and live tracks.
A nice thematic collection of acoustic, electric, studio and live recordings covering all periods of his successful years.
MARTIN SCORCESE PRESENTS THE BLUES (Experience Hendrix/Classic Records)
A few rarities (some from the above 4 CD box set) plus some great oldies on another impressive blues compilation.
HEAR MY MUSIC -(Dagger)
Studio outtakes again, featuring two unedited jams from the legendary (and deleted) “Nine To The Universe” album and some new goodies.
BURNING DESIRE -(Dagger)
Band Of Gypsys jamming in the studio with Jimi.
THE BEST COMPILATIONS
THE ESSENTIAL JIMI HENDRIX – deleted
Released in the 80s as a double vinyl plus a second single LP, this was a fine collection which came out later as a double CD.
EXPERIENCE HENDRIX (Sony)
A 1998 remastering of tracks for this neat single CD compilation.
VOODOO CHILD (Sony)
A double CD collection with one CD studio and one live. Some studio tracks are alternate takes and rarities.
See “Compilations” section.
HENDRIX IN THE WEST (Sony)
The original early seventies album is the one to have but the modified/expanded 2011 version is still great and featured five performances from San Diego 1969.
SOUNDTRACK RECORDINGS FROM THE FILM “JIMI HENDRIX” – Deleted
A double vinyl “best of” live. Another good seventies release to accompany the cinema release.
THE JIMI HENDRIX CONCERTS – Deleted
Six Winterland tracks here (five of which weren’t on “Live At Winterland”) alongside other great Experience (and later) performances.
STAGES – Deleted
A four CD box with three Experience concerts (Stockholm 67, Paris 68, San Diego 69) plus Jimi on his comeback tour of the states at the Atlanta Pop Festival in July 1970.
The Paris show was re-released on Dagger in 2008 and the Atlanta show appeared in more complete form in as Freedom in 2015.
VOODOO CHILD (Sony)
As said above, CD2 here is a superb “best of” live. The version of Machine Gun included isn’t the same as the definitive Band Of Gypsys track..
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