Released by Legacy Recordings, Both Sides of the Sky is an album of mostly unheard material from legendary songwriter and guitar player Jimi Hendrix.
Born in Seattle, he was well known for playing for various backing-bands in New York that backed up acts such as Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. He then moved to England in 1966 after being discovered by bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals, who went on to become his first manager. He then went on to form The Jimi Hendrix Experience, comprised of bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The three-piece released three albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland which have all gone on to be influential albums.
Known for his legendary guitar playing, Hendrix changed the minds of many about what could be done with the electric guitar, and changed the sound of rock and roll music forever. He is often regarded as the greatest rock and roll guitar player of all time.
Tragically, Hendrix passed away in his sleep in 1970 at the age of 27, leaving many wondering how the music was taken with him.
His last LP “Electric Ladyland”, was recorded at his personal studio that was built just for him in New York, appropriately named “Electric Lady Studios”. Both Sides of the Sky is a compilation of remastered outtakes from recording sessions from his time spent at “Electric Lady” and gives listeners a little taste of what might’ve been on the way.
Upon the first listen, it was evident that most of the music felt unfinished. Which in some ways works as an advantage, because it allows the listener to really get a sense of how great Hendrix’s guitar playing really was. With some tracks feeling like they had unfinished lyrics, much of the album feels like a jam session, full of psychedelic blues. To me, blues have always been the kind of music one could play while driving on the highway in a vintage muscle car, where psychedelic rock was what you could throw on a turntable and vibe with in a chill environment. With this album, you can do both. Hendrix was famous for his renditions of well-known blues numbers, and some his own as well. Tracks such as Mannish Boy, Lover Man, and Hear My Train a Comin' exemplify Hendrix’s prowess as a master bluesman. Hendrix’s psychedelic side/originality shows up on tracks like Send My Love to Linda, Cherokee Mist, and Sweet Angel. The album does have its pitfalls however. Three of the songs on the album are not sung by Hendrix. Two of the three Woodstock and $20 Fine for example are sung well known songwriter Stephen Stills. Along with Georgia Blues, these songs feel out of place with the rest of the album.
With the passing of Jimi Hendrix in 1970, the world lost a great artist, and great music that was in the making. The album’s blend of psych rock and blues showed hints that Hendrix was becoming more dynamic in the sounds he was exploring with his guitar, and the music altogether.
Jimi was just getting started.
Favorite songs: “Mannish Boy” “Lover Man” “Sweet Angel”
Least Favorite Songs: “$20 Fine” “Woodstock” “Georgia Blues”
Overall Rating: 8/10