Cited as one of the greatest rock debut albums ever, it continues to impress me over thirty years after first hearing it. What I appreciate most these days is how Jimi took his roots rhythm and blues and ramped it up into very powerful, psychedelic pop rock. You need to listen to the bootleg recordings of Jimi from 1965/1966 to fully understand the heritage.
The album opens with the screeching feedback of Foxy Lady, the lyrics representing a statement of Jimi’s lifestyle philosophy. This song sets up a great groove that’s been borrowed heavily by others over the years. Manic Depression hits you over the head with that manic riff, the manic drums and the solo from another universe. Red House could be your standard delta blues except for the insane guitar playing that left people like Clapton in the dust. Notice there’s a rhythm guitar part that is actually played by Noel Redding on the bass. Can You See Me, Love Or Confusion and I Don’t Live Today continue the manic jazz rock drumming, distortion, feedback and general mayhem and psychedelia; “There ain’t no life nowhere”.
Side two changes the approach with May This Be Love, sounding like it might have been lifted from Electric Ladyland. Fire was an obvious single but it took two years to be released in the USA and Canada. It remains a popular cover for heavy rock bands. “Aw, move over, Rover, and let Jimi take over…”. Third Stone From The Sun is a rare instrumental with two short monologues in the middle using slow speed overdubs, breathy vocalisations, lots of feedback, string bending, some really nice jazz drums and vast quantities of reverb to produce a surreal industrial, trippy atmosphere. Remember is a loving reproduction of the rhythm and blues he was playing every night only a year earlier. The closing title track combines backwards guitars and drums in a “psychedelic symphony” summing up Jimi’s ideas of an “electric church” calling on his followers to join him on his journey.