Between their first recording session in October 1966, and August 1968, the Jimi Hendrix Experience packed a lot in. Numerous tours, non album singles, three LPs (including one double), tv and radio appearances. These guys were really busy. This schedule, coupled with Hendrix’s increased perfectionism in the studio caused tension. Chas Chandler, the man who had brought Hendrix to the UK and produced the Experiences first two albums walked out of the session for ‘Electric Ladyland’, the bands third LP because of it. Hendrix would also invite friends and hangers on to the studio which also contributed to Chandler leaving. He had had enough of these people clogging up the control room. Bass player Noel Redding had also formed the band Fat Mattress, which meant he could not spend as much time in the studio with Hendrix. This would lead Hendrix to play a number of the bass parts during these sessions himself.
With all of this going on, it is a surprise that anything would be released, let alone an album that would be eventually be hailed as a classic. Using studio techniques such as echo, back masking and flanging, the album took the template of the bands previous albums and expanded them beyond the psychedelic blues of their earlier efforts. There were blues jams, a sci-fi influenced side long studio production, hard rock, social commentary as well as a couple of notable cover version, including ‘All Along The Watchtower’, one of the few occasions where the cover is significantly better than the original.
Today, it stands as Hendrixs’ defining LP and it was the last studio album he released in his lifetime. However, when it first came out, not all of the reviews were positive. Medley Maker called it “mixed up and muddled”. Rolling Stone commented that the original songs sometimes sound unstructured. That isn’t to say that there were some positives but the double LP’s was still a new concept in 1968, and even today, there aren’t that many artists who put one out. Most suffer from the same criticism in that there is too much padding and substandard songs. With this in mind and to celebrate 55 years since the album was released, I thought I would have a look at turning ‘Electric Ladyland’ into a single LP.
- And The Gods Made Love
- Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
- Crosstown Traffic
- Come On (Part 1)
- Long Hot Summer
- Still Raining, Still Dreaming
- Gypsy Eyes
- House Burning Down
- All Along The Watchtower
- Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
Playing this through, this is a tight album that dispenses with the jams (Voodoo Chile) and the science fiction ramblings of “1983…(a Merman I Should Turn To Be)”. Removing both of these save up to around 30 minutes of playing time. That does still mean that a couple of other songs need to go so that the playing time would fit comfortably onto a vinyl record. ‘Little Miss Strange’ is very lightweight 60s pop and does stand out on the album as being one of, if not the weakest track. A B-Side at best. Last to go is ‘Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’. Nothing wrong with this song but it does sound a little out of place as it was already a year old by the point the LP came out, and it had already been released as a single in 1967. It sounds a little different from the rest of the album because it was produced by Chas Chandler. The rest of ‘Electric Ladyland’ was produce (and directed) by Jimi Hendrix. This was also the era were singles tended not to be included on albums so that is why this one has been dropped.
All in all, a pretty good single album. The front cover was used for the 50th Anniversary Box Set but this is what Hendrix wanted before his record company ignored his wishes.