People, Hell And Angels

Jimi Hendrix

Experience Hendrix/Legacy, 2013

http://www.jimihendrix.com

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/11/2013

There are some artists for whom the marketplace seems to be able to support an infinite number or reincarnations even after an artist has long been dead.  Continued releases from Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and others prove this over and over again – as does Jimi Hendrix. For years, Eddie Kramer and some other producers have squeezed blood from the Hendrix stone again and again. With 2013's People, Hell And Angels, Kramer and the Hendrix family have said "that's all folks" as far as unreleased studio material is concerned.

It is truly remarkable that even though Hendrix only gained solo exposure for about four years, so much has been released since his death in 1970.  It really speaks to the prolificacy of his artistry.  And while People, Hell And Angels fulfills a fan’s curiosity about what could have been after my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Electric Ladyland, it lacks the polish that a final product would have had and the magic of a real Hendrix release.  Furthermore, there have been numerous attempts to recreate the never released fourth Hendrix album First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, putting the onus on the producers to try to make this album stand out in some way from the family of posthumous albums in which it stands.  In this, the album fails.  As most of the tracks are versions of previously released tracks and they lack the polish and perfectionism that Hendrix would have demanded had he been alive to complete the album.

Cases in point are the somewhat flat background vocals to “Earth Blues,” an oft-released tune for the fabled next album.  Here is a classically Hendrix sounding tune, raw in its blues form and excellent on its churning electric rhythm.  But surely a final product would have had a stronger backup performance.  Similarly, “Bleeding Heart” would not have had such an odd fade out which seems to rip the listener out of the room mid-song.  Above all, Hendrix would have never allowed the absolutely horrible horn solo on “Let Me Move You” to stand.  Anyone with a decent sense of pitch should steer well clear of that track, as its opening intro will make your ears bleed with its failure to reach the required high notes.

The disc does offer some great Hendrix mojo, with "Hear My Train a Comin'," "Izabella" and "Easy Blues."  There is even a glimpse on “Somewhere,” if only a fleeting one, of the possible duo of Stephen Stills and Hendrix which Stills had hoped to foster after joining Crosby and Nash for their first supergroup album.  But even here, the magic is diminished by the fact that Stills is only on bass, and not front and center as a partner with Hendrix. 

The folks behind this and a few other posthumous Hendrix albums, which include his sister, say that this is the last of the studio material that they will release.  However, they hint that a substantial trove of live material still remains untouched, which is remarkable considering that several live albums have also been posthumously released as well.  For now, People, Hell And Angels will have to be the last glimpse into the final studio album that never was from Jimi Hendrix.

Rating: C

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