"Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?"
"Are you experienced?"
With these two questions, Jimi Hendrix announced his arrival and his intentions. And he rocked the music world. Forget the "and roll" part. Hendrix ROCKED us.
V-albums are a new format from ScatterTunes and is the fifth different format in which I have owned Electric Ladyland. My first copy was a two record set (vinyl) that came out in 1968. Later my family listened to it in the car on eight track. Yes, that's right, I raised my three sons on Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and The Beatles. Compact discs and, most recently, MP3 completed my variety of formats until now.
ScatterTunes is a Texas based company that came on the scene last year to compete with the iTunes LP format. They've been rather quiet until signing a deal with the Hendrix Estate. Technically, V-albums are MP3 also, but it's the entire album in one download. Not surprisingly, you can download both the ScatterTunes and the player application for free. It took me less than ten minutes to be able to hear the music again that I've enjoyed for over forty years.
The Hendrix albums (five are currently available) are only $9.99 which compares favorably with iTunes. However, ScatterTunes gets competitive by offering lyrics, photos, videos, a slide show, link to artist-specific merchandise, and concert tickets (not in this case). With a few experimental clicks to try out the new program, I was soon looking at the lyrics on screen while singing along with Jimi. Another click and a slideshow of great still shots of Hendrix with other legends of the music industry appeared.
Then, a real treat.
With a click on "video", a new window opened and producer Eddie Kramer is working a sound mixer and talking about the recording sessions that resulted in "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)". In addition, Chas Chandler was on hand with his comments on why he eventually broke ties with Hendrix. Kramer finishes up with more audio and stories of the sessions.
Fans of Electric Ladyland won't be disappointed. Every track is included in the same sequence as the CD. Frequently en route to work I can enjoy the entire CD — it's a great listening experience. I've heard it so many times that I anticipate the next track during those few seconds between each. Hearing this album is like a visit with an old friend. When time isn't available, I often enjoy my two favorite tracks — two cover songs. Hendrix's versions of Earl King's "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" and Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower". It was pleasing to discover in my research that I'm not alone. Rolling Stone and Total Guitar magazines ranked Hendrix's cover of the Dylan classic high in their ratings for both greatest songs and greatest covers respectively.
Hendrix was a brilliant singer/song writer in his own right. He recorded only three albums with his band "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" and one with the "Band of Gypsies". He left volumes of unreleased material. Considering the fate of the author, these words (from "Voodoo Chile – Slight Return") make me think that he wasn't finished.