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Vinyl Gets In Your Eyes: Jimi Hendrix' "Electric Ladyland"

Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?  It’s a place shrouded in psychedelic wonder created through the mystical sounds of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  A world built not on formal structure or reason but out of raw passion and emotion.   Take the trip and voyage into the unknown.  As you expand your scope and release your mind, become captivated by the beauty and majesty that is the guitar playing of the almighty Jimi Hendrix.  Note after note, sensations of elation and bliss flood the body in enigmatic manners.  How Hendrix achieves such extraordinary measures can only be explained through the way he performs.  He doesn’t simply play the guitar; he makes sweet, intimate love to it like a stunning, yet delicate woman yearning for her deepest desires.  He marvels in her splendor, treats her with dignity, but allows his lustful passion for her to be the driving force.  She is his Electric Ladyland.  Come and experience

The needle hit the wax and Hendrix roared, instantly captivating me.  Hearing Jimi on vinyl just seemed right.  When this album was released on October 25, 1968 music and the world were going through radical changes.  I wanted to hear it like the counterculture heard it and pay homage to the man who many consider to be the greatest at his art.   

Every time I drive home from work I watch the sun set over the Charleston harbor as pink and purple brush strokes paint the sky while shades of orange reflect off the marshes silhouetting palmetto trees in its wake.  If I had to compare the magnificence of “Voodoo Chile” to something it would be that scene.  Clocked in at 14 minutes and 59 seconds, it’s a blues jam session in the definitive style of Hendrix that embodies what it means to arouse the spirit and play from the soul. 

As my vinyl collection has expanded, I have further realized the importance of the album as a whole.  When I put a record on, I don’t tend to put on a specific song.  I like to start with Side A and let the album play itself out.  As each song unfolds, every integral piece comes together to create the overall impression of the album.  Also, once that certain song or songs does come on it makes it that much more significant.  The last side of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Electric Ladyland is the best example of that I’ve come across yet.  Hendrix bewilders the mind and floods the ears with guitar gushing ecstasy on the final four tracks that include “Still Raining, Still Dreaming”, “House Burning Down”, “All Along the Watchtower”, and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”.  Whenever I hear these I can’t help but let loose my best Hendrix style air guitar impressions and try to simply fathom just what in the hell he is doing to his baby. 

Having this album on vinyl is more than just owning a piece of music.  Black and white photos of the band during the time of the album’s recording litter the inside cover.  A period stylized by unique fashion and even more unique ways of thinking, it helps capture the spirit of the album and times for someone like myself who wasn’t alive to be able to experience it.  It’s not only Jimi Hendrix memorabilia; it’s Rock n’ Roll history.

In the direction that the world of music seems to be heading where all you need is to release a hit single, every kid on the street thinks he’s a button pushing DJ, and music is characterized by how “dirty” it is, it’s a breath of fresh air to jump back to 1968 and Electric Ladyland.  Turn it up! It deserves to be played at full volume.

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