Friday, March 16, 2018

Jimi Hendrix 21: Both Sides Of The Sky

For no apparent reason, even after saying they were done with this sort of thing, another hodgepodge of unfinished studio recordings by Jimi Hendrix was unleashed on the world. Both Sides Of The Sky purports to consist of even more contenders for his never-realized fourth album, while sporting cover art based on a younger version of the man who composed the music therein. The compilers even dared to call it “the third installment in the trilogy”.
However, much of this has been heard before, in one way or another. The fanatics can contrast and compare alternates of “Hear My Train A-Comin’” (with the Experience) and “Lover Man” (with Band of Gypsys), and shake their heads over a sped-up “Stepping Stone” that touches on country and polka. “Mannish Boy” appeared in a slightly different form on Blues, and “Georgia Blues” was on the now-deleted companion to Martin Scorsese’s take on the genre. “Power Of Soul” was in a different mix on South Saturn Delta, as was a less-developed demo of “Sweet Angel”, here bridging the similarity to “Little Wing” with the xylophone. Three tracks teased on the 1990’s Lifelines set appear in more complete takes and/or composites; “Things I Used To Do” is a jam with Johnny Winter, and “Send My Love To Linda” combines a few solo takes with a full Gypsys rendition, but “Cherokee Mist”, featuring Jimi on electric sitar and feedback with Mitch Mitchell playing along, is a fascinating peek into the Electric Ladyland sessions.
It seems the biggest selling point for the marketers are two jams with Stephen Stills on organ and vocals, supposedly recorded at the same session but with different drummers. “$20 Fine” is basically a Stills song with Jimi adding guitar, and “Woodstock” is very similar to the CSNY version that had yet to be released, except that Jimi is merely playing bass. These would probably be better suited to a Stills compilation, but the Estate likely insisted only they could release them. That leaves only “Jungle”, which starts with some meandering and eventually gains Buddy Miles on drums, before fading out.
Considering not every note Jimi played in a studio setting has been made available to those who don’t collect bootlegs, it’s too soon to tell if this is really it for what the Estate has to offer. Of course, there are still plenty of official live releases, always with the chance of more to come, for those inclined to explore. If we were in charge of things, and obviously we were not, neither this album, nor the other two in the “trilogy”, nor South Saturn Delta, nor First Rays — especially now that Cry Of Love and Rainbow Bridge are widely available again — nor the box sets would have happened. Rather, the music would be grouped chronologically, Anthology-style, for less of a grab-bag approach, and giving the student a much smoother journey through the man’s studio life, particularly to demonstrate all the directions he explored in the last 24 months of his time on the planet.

Jimi Hendrix Both Sides Of The Sky (2018)—3

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