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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

People, Hell and Angels - Jimi Hendrix - New Release Review - Guest review - Ellisjames

The bottom line is ‘Is it real and does it make you happy?’ To me, the answer is a decidedly “Yes” to both. The bottom line is ‘Is it real and does it make you happy?’ To me, the answer is a decidedly enthusiastic, ‘Yes’, to both. I was shopping locally at a music store and was taken aback at how few new and used Blues LPs were in stock when compared to the vast number LPs of Rock, Rap, Jazz and other genres. Yeah, OK, I get it. The demise of physical format music continues to be predicted. Purchase of listening rights to “cloud” and down-load content continues to grow. With that said, if vinyl is outdated and only making a somewhat of a comeback in a small segment of the music fan market, I simply ask, where in the hell are the Blues records, CDs and other media that no one seems to want? A brief conversation with an employee reminded me that I resided in Phoenix, AZ rather than NYC, Chicago, Memphis, Saint Louis or other more likely markets. None the less, I heard a noise that piqued my interest. Was he attempting to up-sell me? What was this Blues that I heard? Why did I not recognize it? Upon inquiry I learned that what I heard was the Elmore James song, ‘Bleeding Heart’ from the ‘new’ Hendrix release, ‘People, Hell and Angels’. After purchase, listening and review I can flatly say that I like it! This release pleases me in as much as it contains stripped-down Hendrix with hints of the Blues and tracks which have been heard before in less honest or truncated fashion. I do not pretend to be nor present myself as the know-it-all Hendrix aficionado yet trust myself when I hear things that I like. This CD makes me happy. Other reviewers have disparaged and dissected this release and have concluded that it is not a must have addition to any collection is not a five-star effort. I agree that it is not as polished and over produced as ‘Building the Perfect Beast’ nor as complicated as Miles Davis’s ‘Live at the Fillmore East.’ Maybe those are two reasons why I like it. Perhaps we have become so tainted and self-righteous that we have forgotten just where much of our current influences have come. ‘Hear My Train A Comin’ has been criticized as having been previously released yet stands proud just as presented in this set. The lyrical content within Bleeding Heart touches me as much does the playing. Blues, you want to talk blues? ‘Rhythm and Blues’ blended with soulful saxophone in addition to guitar performance that would be, and is, naturally found in just about any Buddy Guy, Mike Bloomfield (and Buddy Miles) or Stevie Ray Vaughn release. I heard one friend complain that ‘other people’ are singing in these Hendrix songs. Lonnie Youngblood adds soul and flavor to the mix (Let Me Move You) as does Albert Allen (Mojo Man) with Billy Cox in backup on ‘Earth Blues’. Complaining that Jimi shared the mic bothers me as much as knowing that Carlos Santana hires singers and sticks to playing his instrument. ‘Easy Blues’ is anything but, exhibiting the more typical driving Hendrix dental drill picking style countered and complimented by pleasing Jazz-like runs. This cut is a lesson in the Bass and drums providing foundation and holding the cut together. ‘Crash Landing’ is admittedly easy to skip given multiple listenings based more on the lyrical content and my personal preference than the instrumental performance. ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Hey Gypsy Boy’ have their moments but don’t overly excite this tainted and spoiled reviewer. We are reminded that these recordings were captured in 1968-69, not last week. I feel like I am criticizing the choice of stone for Moses’ tablets. Speaking of stone, ‘Mojo Man’ shows hints of bedrock influence on the Memphis horn and soul fusion genre yet to come. The Buddy Miles drumming connection to Mike Bloomfield is not forgotten. Definite Electric Flag and sniffs of Doctor John reside. ‘Villanova Junction Blues,’ to me, remains a knock out. This cut remains classic Hendrix no matter how often you have heard it before in other releases. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s later releases are absolutely derived from this mother lode. Is this collection real? Yes. Does this collection make me happy? Absolutely! Will this CD change my life or determine my future? No, I’m a realist. I’ve learned to enjoy things for what they are. Come on people, this is Hendrix without posthumous over-dubs and session players! With respect to the family, I suggest this release as a recommended buy.

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