The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Electric Ladyland” (1968) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-02-14 23:30:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  2.5 / 5 stars

Let me begin by saying I love and have the utmost respect for Jimi Hendrix’s music, as much if not more than the average music fan.  Although many simply know a couple hits (and are, even from that sampling, able to acknowledge the fact that he was a guitar legend), I have heard all of his albums multiple times — hits, misses, deep tracks, and all.

Although Electric Ladyland is widely considered the pinnacle of his recording career, I must adamantly argue that it is not.

There is no denying the mastery that Hendrix demonstrates on the third and final studio release of his brief career.  Even on a track like “Little Miss Strange,” his guitarwork is intricate, interesting, and unsurpassed.  “Voodoo Chile” is a testament to his mastery (and his justification for moving beyond) the blues.  And his production on “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” is nothing short of expansive and impressive.

And yet, great songs do not in and of themselves a great album make.

To be fair, there are some excellent tracks on this album.  In addition to those aforementioned gems, the highlights of Electric Ladyland are certainly to be found in the brilliant rock’n’roll of “Crosstown Traffic” and their electrified take on Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” a version that redefined the way Dylan himself approached the song in concert.

On Electric Ladyland, the Jimi Hendrix Experience is tighter and yet more relaxed than on any previous release.  Hendrix is more experimental stylistically and vocally, Noel Redding’s bass parts are even more manically masterful, and Mitch Mitchell’s drums are both an anchor and a vivid instrument unto themselves.  There’s something compelling about a band that can run through a fourteen minute blazing blues epic like “Voodoo Chile” and go on to construct such a melancholy opening as you find on “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Electric Ladyland" (1968)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Electric Ladyland" (1968)

Where this album begins to fall short is in all the nooks and crannies, all the self-indulgent jams that stretch some wonderful tracks out beyond a reasonable length, all the inferior, overly-simplistic tracks that never would have found their way onto a previous Experience release.

From the opening, Electric Ladyland is a unique and exciting album.  “…And the Gods Made Love” is a forgettable, albeit tone-setting album opener.  “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” is a warm, inviting, and promising number.  “Crosstown Traffic” and “Voodoo Chile” make good on that invitation, putting an outstandingly tight, single-worthy track back to back with a jam-based track that takes its time — a quarter of an hour, to be more precise.

After this is where the album loses some of its focus.

The Redding-penned “Little Miss Strange” suffers from the same assessment as Axis: Bold As Love‘s “She’s So Fine”:  it’s okay.  Nothing more, nothing less — neither the track you’ll run to first, nor the track you’ll skip.

Then comes a trio of tunes that are not terribly impressive.  “Long Hot Summer Night” is good, “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” is an excellent, unique take on this cover, and “Gypsy Eyes” has its moments.  If this is the best that can be said about these tracks, then they have no business being at the heart of a Jimi Hendrix Experience album.

I can even look beyond the ho-hum nature of “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” if only for its thematic, lyrical tie-in three tracks later on “Still Raining, Still Dreaming,” but it never ceases to amaze me how, depending on the artist and on the general trends in music criticism at the time, an album that has strong ties to what has come before can either be a masterful sampling of genres or a derivative romp in mediocrity.  In this case, the former was decided upon, as evidenced by the slew of five-star ratings the album has accrued.  Still, I find it difficult to view some of these reviews as unbiased.  Is Electric Ladyland a breakthrough effort, an album that took the ways we view genres and recordings and turned them upside down?  Yes.  But is that to say it should overshadow the cohesion, uniqueness, and beautifully tight arrangements of Are You Experienced? Should it cause us to set Axis: Bold As Love aside as a sophomoric, somewhat forgettable effort?

No!

Let us not forget that this is an album with a track like “Moon, Turn the Tides… gently gently away,” a song with no content and with no discernible purpose as anything more than a transition between tracks, perhaps a tone setting device.

By the time “House Burning Down” comes, I often find myself suffering from jam fatigue.  This is an excellent track, and yet I have a hard time getting fired up for it, or for the album-closing “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).”

I do find myself seeking sweet refuge in the track that comes between them… “All Along the Watchtower.”

This is what Electric Ladyland lacks — others may praise the jazz mentality of this record, but I find myself yearning for the rock’n’roll mentality that Jimi Hendrix practically created on his first two releases.  Others see the expansive and the interpretive as mastery, but I long for the tightness and originality of those early Jimi Hendrix recordings — hits like “Purple Haze,” “Stone Free,” and “Bold As Love” and deep tracks like “Love or Confusion,” “51st Anniversary,” “Spanish Castle Magic,” and “Little Wing.”

It is no wonder that John Mayer has gone to the Hendrix well thrice for covers — an excellent version of “Wait Until Tomorrow” for the Experience-imitating John Mayer Trio, an okay take on “Bold As Love” on Continuum, and “The Wind Cries Mary” live in concert.  After all, his career has generally followed the patterns I see in Hendrix’s: a mind-blowing debut, a strong follow-up, and a critically acclaimed, if inferior third release.  Say what you will about Mayer — channeling Hendrix, however criticized a move it may be in some circles, has worked as planned.

So, I will continue listening to Electric Ladyland and loving it at times.  For me, it can’t compare to what came before, and to what may have come after…

“A Winter’s Tale” (Moody Blues)

Originally posted 2009-12-08 00:06:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Moody Blues chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another all-new edition of the Laptop Sessions.  To kick off another full week of new material, I’ve reached into the Moody Blues catalog of songs — specifically from their 2003 album December — to bring you a cover song version of their cover of the Mike Blatt and Tim Rice song “A Winter’s Tale.”

Now, although I am an English teacher, this is not to be confused with the William Shakespeare play “The Winter’s Tale.”  Not only is there a notable difference in parts of speech (namely the indefinite – “a” – versus the definite – “the” – articles), but there is also a big difference in tone.  Still, “The Winter’s Tale” is quite a trip.  Consider, for instance, that this play contains one of Shakespeare’s most infamous stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”  What I find the most interesting is that there is contention over whether he used an actual bear for the original productions, or simply a man dressed in a bear costume.

I would assume the latter, but the former is just so much more fascinating…

But this is all beside the point.

“A Winter’s Tale” is one of those songs that is indisputably beautiful, sung perfectly by Justin Hayward.  For those who have seen them in concert recently, you may have noticed my apparel is a nod to Hayward’s typical onstage wardrobe.  That wasn’t too difficult to arrange, as I simply removed my tie and jacket and voila!  Of course, this is also one of those songs that, upon playback, forces me to remember I’m a rhythm guitarist hammering away at what is such a subtle, pretty song at heart.  During our MoU Christmas concerts, Mike would front the band on this one, fingerpicking and taking the lead — and for good reason!

The reason I’m standing up is because the song simply didn’t sound right when I played it sitting down.  I found I was having trouble getting comfortable as I played it.

Of course, the majority of the song being played on barre chords didn’t help either…

Several takes and several strained ligaments in my hands later, you’ve got yourself a new Laptop Session.

As a final note about the song, I found it very interesting that this song, originally written by songwriters Mike Batt and Tim Rice, hit #2 on the UK charts back in 1982.  Batt teamed up with Rice to write the song for performer David Essex.  Another interesting bit of trivia is that Batt went on to produce Justin Hayward’s solo album Classic Blue between 1988 and 1989 at Abbey Road Studios in London.  Classic Blue, ironically, is an album of covers.  The track listing includes three songs written by Batt, as well as classics from Brian Wilson, Lennon/McCartney, and Led Zeppelin.

I hope that you enjoy this installment of the Laptop Sessions, and I encourage you to hurry back for more very soon.  In addition to your regularly scheduled (yuletide?) cover song music video tomorrow, there may be a brand new Guest Session on Friday, as well as another edition of the Weekend Review.  If you missed last weekend’s music review, you should know that I just kicked off a top five albums of the decade countdown.  Each weekend between now and January 2nd, 2009, I will reveal another album on the list, as well as a full review.  Then, on January 2nd, I will post my full “Top Thirty Rock Albums of the Decade” list, along with my review for the number one rock album of the decade.

Thus far, the Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon (2000) has cinched the #5 slot.  Which album will rank as the fourth best album of the decade?

You’ll have to tune in to the Weekend Review to find out…

See you next session!

“A Winter’s Tale” Cover by the Moody Blues – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2009-12-07 22:35:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

To see how it’s played in the cover song music video, CLICK HERE!

“A Winter’s Tale”
The Moody Blues

Intro: F   Bb   F   Bb   F   C   F

F                                Bb
The nights are colder now
Am                                   Bb
Maybe I should close the door
F              C                       Dm
And anyway the snow has covered all your footsteps
Gm                         C
And I can follow you no more

The fire still burns at night
My memories are warm and clear
F
But everybody knows
C                 Bb              C         F
It’s hard to be alone at this time of year

F                                Bb
It was only a winter’s tale
Just another winter’s tale
And why should the world take notice
F                                    C
Of one more love that’s failed?

F                                Bb
A love that can never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
F
On a world-wide scale
C                                        F
We’re just another winter’s tale

Instrumental:  F   C   Dm   Dm/C/Bb   C   F

While I stand alone
A bell is ringing far away
I wonder if you’re here
I wonder if you’re listening
I wonder where you are today
Good luck, I wish you well
For all that wishes may be worth
I hope that love and strength
Are with you for the length
Of your time on earth

CHORUS

Instrumental

CHORUS

Instrumental (x2)

Sing the following over the end of the instrumental:
Bb                           C           F            C – F
We’re just another winter’s tale.

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **