I just found out that The Library of Congress takes 50 audio recordings each year to preserve, 50 that have played a significant role in American history. Are You Experienced was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the United States. In 2005 the list included the album that changed the course of rock music.
Are You Experienced was the debut album by English/American rock band The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released in 1967, it was the first LP for Track Records. The album highlighted Jimi Hendrix’s R&B-based, psychedelic, distortion and feedback laden electric guitar playing, and instantly launched him as a major new international rock star. It is considered one of the first heavy metal albums. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #15 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Eddie Kramer was involved in the Are You Experienced album as the lead engineer.
According to Kramer, “Jimi’s backwards guitar was an effect that he rehearsed. Contrary to popular belief, I would say Jimi Hendrix was extremely well prepared. I would give him rough mixes of songs that we’d been working on and he would take them home and experiment on his own tape machine. By the time he came back to the studio the following day, he would have planned out precisely what he was going to play. And we would turn the tape upside down, because obviously the back’s now playing to the front, and he would know precisely where he was by the sound of the tape. So he would stop there, play it from there and record from there to there. And out would come this incredibly beautiful melodic solo that was perfectly structured from the beginning to the end.”
A friend of Michael Bloomfield made mention to me, “Pure and simple Jimi was, as Michael Bloomfield put it “a natural genius” with a huge arsenal of licks and chordal structures he would create “on the fly” so to speak.”
Vernon Reid Is a guitarist, songwriter, composer and music producer. And he was quoted as saying “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Jimi Hendrix.”
It was more, much more than a groundbreaking album at the time. If you’ll excuse the expression, it really rocked the music world. It set it on fire the second he hit the stage, because nobody had ever heard psychedelic rock and roll guitar, soulfully and heavily, heavily influenced by the blues. And here’s a man who is completely at one with his guitar and able to create sounds that nobody had ever heard before. In the Temple of rock and roll guys, Jimi is the King in terms of guitar players. But you already knew that about me!
On Are You Experienced, you know, in the album, is he talking about drugs? Is he talking about sex? Is he talking about all of the above? It’s kind of inferred, but you have to listen to his words and take the real meaning out of them and consider the pre-recorded backwards swirling guitars contributing to this sort of lyrical and musical genius.
It’s still a landmark recording because it started a tradition, a new standard of music and guitar playing skills, rock and roll, R&B, blues, and the twisted mind oj Jimi Hendrix to put it together. But I think it altered the syntax of the music, if you will, you listen to just Crosstown Traffic or Purple Haze, or some heavy blues like Voodoo Child and you start to think, this is the music I have been waiting for my whole life.
I was reading this article recently about a school doing some poetry vibe with some fifth graders, and a young lady student had a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt on, and – of course she was asked about this. And she said, “oh, I just love that music. It just makes me want to go in my room and paint and write things. And you know, he was someone who painted and wrote.” So purely and simply, it’s not just for old school guys, you know, if a fifth grader can just get kind of wide-eyed and excited as this young lady did. I thought, boy, you know, this guy really had something, and still does. apparently Jimi Hendrix does stand the test of time.
In fact, his music is more popular than ever. Like Mozart, he was born a musical genius, changing the face of music, each in their respective types of vibe. Forever, and to emulated by all, being appreciated by strange new audiences. Interesting enough, they both died young. I won’t even bring up the crossroads theory..
Perhaps this story is somewhat self serving, but it proves to me that I was right the first time I heard a bootleg recording of Jimi Hendrix off the BBC recordings in late 1965, and it seems that I’m still correct about standing the test of time and continuing to grow larger as each generation of listeners and guitar players becomes influenced and take what they want from the King.
Are you Experienced?