How could I write a music column about surrealism, and not cover one of the most influential rockers of all time, an artist at making kick ass rock with a wave of psychedelic flare?
The man, the legend, the lefty, he is… Jimi Hendrix.
To think I could say something new, and something of significance about him is borderline lunacy. But a slew of B-sides, and rejected tunes, half-baked ideas, and long jam sessions comprise a library of what is left, what is eternal and new from Jimi’s mouth.
With compilations of Bob Dylan’s demos being released in 2010, the Witmark Demos left me wondering how many artists’ projects were set aside or discarded. But when the artist is already deceased, and hasn’t sung a new thought in over 50 years, there is something magical, mysterious, and enchanting about new tracks.
“Hear My Train A Comin’” has a gnarly solo where you hear Hendrix’ molasses fingers melt the neck as he paints long shredding strokes between the frets. Meanwhile, the lyrics preceding that solo suspended me thinking where could Mr. Hendrix be going next.
He was going to shredtown, on a Mississippi guitar, riding the rails of psychedelic sounds, with the coal of blues pushing him on down the line. After all, it was the blues rhythm that gave this song its first flight. But this alternate style of “My Train” breathes new life into a classic jam. It didn’t feel complete, it was magical, but it didn’t feel whole. This version shakes and stirs that old blues riff in neon psychedelic waves, and since it was recorded around the same time, the changes are subtle but efficient.
“Izabella” is another track we’ve heard before, but the new scales on Izabella are Detroit cool. The song used to feel like a summer jam, with beer in one hand, and cigs in the other. But the unheard polished Izabella feels more authentic, genuine even. It’s a fall song now, with a scotch and a stogie.
“Mojo Man” on the other hand is an unreleased song. This lick is too damn cool. I can picture a rad car chase between a VW Bus and an all black cutlass. “Mojo Man” bleeds that groovy feel. You can feel it stream down deep into your veins. To shred away into the night, Jimi plays us out with “Villanova Junction Blues.” ‘Nova Blues is such a righteous tune to leave us with despite being 6ft under.
This album is purely complimentary, as are most b-sides and compilations. But complimentary doesn’t mean there’s no substance. “People, Hell, and Angels” is a stellar album that feels like a warm blanket wrapping you by the fire. It’s a mellow trip, but a trip nonetheless.
Go pack another bowl you silly kids, and take a listen.