Mike A. Bryan, Staff Writer
While Jimi Hendrix was alive, he was extremely prolific, producing over eight albums in his very short lifetime. He also accompanied other bands during his eight years of recording, everyone from The Isley Brothers to Little Richard.
In his last year of life alone, he recorded over 70 times. Since his death, many recordings have been discovered, and are now being released posthumously. This album is the third catalog release, starting in 2010 with “Valleys of Neptune,” following in 2013 with “People, Hell, and Angels.” The newest release, “Both Sides of the Sky,” features songs and fragments that can be found in other works, along with some notable cover songs, like Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy.” It includes songs recorded between 1968 and 1970, ten of which have never been previously released. Many of the songs have a blues focus.
Unsurprisingly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has declared him “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Of course, Hendrix’s guitar work is the focus here, with the vocals only playing a supporting role. There are some really interesting cuts on this album, like the jam band-esque “$20 Fine” and the super funky “Jungle.” There are also tracks that have been previously recorded, such as “Sweet Angel” and “Power of Soul.”
Most of the remaining songs are blues, with covers of the aforementioned Muddy Waters, and a few others that are Hendrix’s own blues songs, like “Georgia Blues” and “Hear My Train a Comin’.” Band lineups on the album include both members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Band of Gypsys. This album also showcases musicians Stephen Stills and Johnny Winters, in songs where Jimi is not the main guitarist; this adds some refreshing variety to the album.
Have no doubt that other material will continue to be released for years to come. Some solo recordings and songs recorded with others are still hiding in the vault. The Hendrix family team, including original recording engineer Eddie Kramer, has released the three most recent albums and will continue to work on releasing more music. Hendrix’s prolific output was extraordinary in multiple ways – his raw talent and ability with the guitar and his improvisational, artistic approach to music. He has, and will continue to, influence generations of guitar players.
This album, like his others before it, showcases his insane power over the guitar. He is truly one of the greats, and this album reminds us of that. “Both Sides of the Sky” can be found on Spotify and Apple Music.