Are You Experienced

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Reprise Records, 1967

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Two things happened to me in 1967. First, I worked at a summer camp and one of the female staff members introduced me to folk music via Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. Later that same year, I traveled into New York City with a friend to take in a concert at a small club.

Let me go on record by saying that I would have never let one of my seventeen year old children travel into New York City now, but times were different then. From the opening guitar notes struck by Jimi Hendrix that night, my secure musical world of The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, and The Four Seasons expanded, changed, and was never the same again.

Jimi Hendrix was a star in England before he returned to his home country. He released Are You Experienced in the United Statesmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 on August 23, 1967. The album went beyond hit status, becoming one of the most influential album releases in history and changing an entire generation’s perception of music. The British invasion and the simplistic, good time pop-rock of the 1960’s were over. Rock ‘n’ roll was moving in a different direction and Jimi Hendrix led the way as its creative messiah.

It is difficult to believe that anyone who listens to rock music is not familiar with this album. Are You Experienced is essential listening. If you do not own a copy or are from another planet and have not heard this disc, stop reading right now, get out of your chair, and go find a copy.

Are You Experienced not only introduced Jimi Hendrix to the American music consciousness but changed the very textures of rock ‘n’ roll. Despite only recording with bass, drums, and guitar, Hendrix was able to create a denseness to his music that could only be penetrated in layers. Hendrix at his best produced music that was almost a living organism, enveloping the listener.

The opening song, “Purple Haze,” ushers in the new era. It was difficult to believe the guitar sounds that were coming from the stereo speakers in 1967. Even today, the sounds that Jimi Hendrix could wring from his guitar are unique. “Hey Joe” is a bluesy cover of The Leaves’ hit. “Fire” was a frenetic rock classic with Hendrix playing at warp speed. “The Wind Cries Mary” was another foray in a blues direction and is almost relaxing compared to many of the other tracks. “Foxey Lady” was a concert staple for Hendrix with its staccato beat.  “Third Stone From The Sun” finds a nice mellow Hendrix; the playing is more subtle but the technical artistry is unmatched.

Hendrix could improvise on the guitar better than just about any person in music history, yet he rarely became lost or got out of control and always was able to stay true to the songs structure and integrity. 

This release should be a part of every music library. It was the first of a trio of masterpiece albums created by Hendrix and the start of an evolutionary process that would change the face of rock music. Now ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-



© 2010 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.