People, Hell & Angels showcases the legendary guitarist working outside of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience trio. Beginning in 1968, Jimi Hendrix grew restless, eager to develop new material with old friends and new ensembles. Outside the view of a massive audience that had established the Experience as rock's largest grossing concert act and simultaneously placed two of his albums in the US Top 10 sales chart, Jimi was busy working behind the scenes to craft his next musical statement.
These 12 recordings encompass a variety of unique sounds and styles using many of the elements — Hendrix toys with horns, keyboards, percussion and second guitar — that Jimi wanted to incorporate within his new music. People, Hell & Angels presents some of the finest Jimi Hendrix guitar work ever issued and provides a compelling window into his growth as a songwriter, musician and producer.
The tracks on People, Hell and Angels originally were planned to serve as a follow-up to Hendrix's 1968 album Electric Ladyland. Hendrix's death in 1970 prohibited him from releasing the tracks featured on this poshumous album. Hendrix would have turned 70 on November 27, 2012.
The dozen previously unreleased Jimi Hendrix performances premiering on People, Hell & Angels include "Earth Blues," "Somewhere," "Hear My Train A Comin'," "Bleeding Heart," "Baby Let Me Move You," "Izabella," "Easy Blues," "Crash Landing," "Inside Out," "Hey Gypsy Boy," "Mojo Man" and "Villanova Junction Blues."
With an album title coined by Hendrix, People, Hell & Angels reveals some of Hendrix's post-Experience ambitions and directions as he worked with new musicians — including the Buffalo Springfield's Stephen Stills, drummer Buddy Miles, Billy Cox (with whom Hendrix had served in the 101st US Army Airborne and later played on the famed R & B 'chitlin circuit' together) and others — creating fresh and exciting sounds for the next chapter in his extraordinary career.
"In ‘68 and ‘69, Jimi was in the studio constantly," recalls his former sound manager, Eddie Kramer. "His whole life was in the studio."
The track titled "Somewhere," — featuring Stephen Stills and drummer Buddy Miles — displays a particularly bold usage of Hendrix's soulful guitar squall. "That's a fantastic example of Jimi's amazing control of the wah-wah [pedal], the tone of the wah-wah - how that affects the whole song," Kramer tells Rolling Stone.
People, Hell & Angels is co-produced by Janie Hendrix, Kramer and John McDermott. Kramer first met Jimi at Olympic Studios in London in January 1967. Hendrix developed a unique rapport with Kramer. As a result, Kramer engineered every album issued by the guitarist in his lifetime and recorded such famous Hendrix concerts as the Woodstock festival in August 1969. Since 1997, Kramer has teamed with Janie Hendrix (Jimi's stepsister) and John McDermott to oversee the release of each Jimi Hendrix album issued by Experience Hendrix.
Says Gary Salstrom, QRP's general manager and master lacquer plating technician, plating and pressng the new Hendrix LP is both an honor and a treat.
"I'm excited about that one. I think it's fascinating that they've got so many releases to put out. Stuff we've never heard before," Salstrom says. He's plated and pressed LPs at QRP for The Doors, Lyle Lovett and Norah Jones, but the historical aspect of this new release, and the profile of Hendrix is a special thrill.
"When you can get historical (material), those are certain ones you get more excited about," he says. "You can't get too much higher profile than (Jimi Hendrix)."
Lastly, as Rolling Stone notes, the album artwork is simple, yet as distinct as Hendrix's signature guitar wails. Be experienced yet again.
People, Hell & Angels, Track by Track
Totally unlike the version first issued as part of Rainbow Bridge in 1971, this December 19, 1969, master take features just Hendrix, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles playing stripped-down funk at its very origin.
This newly discovered gem was recorded in March 1968 and features Buddy Miles on drums and Stephen Stills on bass. It's entirely different from any previous version fans have ever heard.
"Hear My Train A Comin'"
This superb recording was drawn from Hendrix's first-ever recording session with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles — the powerhouse rhythm section with whom he would later record the groundbreaking album Band of Gypsys. Hendrix shared a deep love for the blues with Cox and Miles. Both musicians understood Hendrix's desire to create what he described as a "new type of blues." Hendrix's menacing lead guitar is the centerpiece of this dramatic addition to his remarkable legacy.
This Elmore James masterwork had long been a favorite of Hendrix's. He had performed the song earlier that year with the Experience in concert at the Royal Albert Hall and had attempted to capture the song in New York studio sessions during the weeks that followed. Recorded at the same May 1969 session as "Hear My Train A Coming," the track conveys Hendrix's firm understanding of the arrangement and tempo he desired. Before they began, Hendrix instructed Cox and Miles that he wanted to establish a totally different beat than the standard arrangement. He then kicked off this amazing rendition that was nothing like any other he had ever attempted.
"Let Me Move You"
In March 1969, Hendrix reached back to another old friend, saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood. Before he was discovered by Chas Chandler in the summer of 1966, Jimi had contributed guitar as a nondescript studio sideman for Youngblood and such infectious rhythm and blues styled singles such as "Soul Food." This March 1969 session features Hendrix and Youngblood trading licks throughout this never before heard, high velocity rock and soul classic.
In the aftermath of the Woodstock festival, Hendrix gathered his new ensemble, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows, at the Hit Factory in August 1969 with engineer Eddie Kramer. "Izabella" had been one of the new songs the guitarist introduced at the Woodstock festival and Jimi was eager to perfect a studio version. This new version is markedly different from the Band Of Gypsys 45 RPM single master issued by Reprise Records in 1970 and features Larry Lee, Hendrix's old friend from the famed rhythm & blues "chitin' circuit," on rhythm guitar.
An edited extract of this gorgeous, free flowing instrumental was briefly issued as part of the long-out-of-print 1981 album Nine To The Universe. Now nearly twice as long, the track offers fans the opportunity to enjoy the dramatic interplay between Hendrix, second guitarist Larry Lee, Cox and drummer Mitch Mitchell.
Perhaps known as the title song for the controversial 1975 album that featured Hendrix master recordings posthumously overdubbed by session musicians, this April 1969 original recording has never been heard before. Hendrix is joined here by Cox and drummer Rocky Isaac of the Cherry People to record this thinly veiled warning to his girlfriend, Devon Wilson.
Hendrix was fascinated by the rhythm pattern that would ultimately take form as "Ezy Ryder." Joined here by Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix recorded all of the bass and guitar parts for this fascinating song - including a dramatic lead guitar part amplified through a Leslie speaker.
"Hey Gypsy Boy"
The roots of Hendrix's majestic "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" trace themselves to this March 1969 recording. Unlike the posthumously overdubbed version briefly issued as part of Midnight Lightning in 1975, this is original recording that features Hendrix joined by Buddy Miles.
Hendrix would lend a hand to Albert & Arthur Allen, the vocalists known as the Ghetto Fighters, whom he had befriended in Harlem long before he achieved fame with the Experience. When the two recorded this inspired, previously unreleased master at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama they took it back to Hendrix at Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix knew just what to do to elevate the recording beyond contemporary R&B to the new hybrid of rock, rhythm and blues he was celebrated for.
"Villanova Junction Blues"
Long before his famous performance of this song at Woodstock, Hendrix recorded this studio version with Cox and Miles at the same May 1969 session that yielded "Hear My Train A Comin'" and "Bleeding Heart" also featured on this album. Never fully finished, the song stands as an example of the fertile ideas he hoped to harness and bring to fruition.