Top Fifty 28: Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced, 1967

[Originally posted May 2011]

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Jimi asked his question in 1967 and, aged 14, I clearly wasn’t. However, learning to explore and have those experiences would have its catalyst from the moment I purchased this seminal album in that same year, newly arrived in England, and Axis Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland would add multi-colourings and 3D texture to the aural and other journeys of those later years.

It’s hardly a surprise to place this album in a top fifty and I’m not going to compete with the thousands of reviews and commentaries already out there. The psychedelic was also already out there in the latter 60s but Hendix defined it for my generation and me with the extra-terrestrial sound of his guitar playing as well as his super-cool appearance and demeanour. His lyrics added further momentum to the incomprehensible but palpable swirl of growing up at this time.

My original vinyl was spirited away by someone who also enjoyed the ‘open-door’ spirit to my country cottage that I megaphoned to anyone I met from 1971 onwards: friends, friends of friends, people in pubs, people who gave me lifts as I hitch-hiked home or away to gigs/festivals. Losing that record wasn’t what I meant by the genuine if naive attitude to sharing I emanated so freely at the time. I do have my replacement American vinyl edition [small picture below] and you are not welcome to help yourself. I now use the locks on my doors.

I also have original posters of Hendrix from the time, as well as concert reproductions. I just wish I hadn’t stuck his albums to the wall alongside these: Axis Bold as Love is one of the supreme gatefold psychedelic covers, and the outside of mine is still glossy and far-out after all these years. Shame about the inside and those long ragged sellotape tears. As a teenager you’re not thinking of future vinyl value – just those artistic dreams adding their hues of hope for different futures on bedroom walls.

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