Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced?

NME.COM feature on Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced? album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 27 September 2005

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Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced?: Wikipedia Album Entry

Are You Experienced is the debut album by English/American 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, , distortion- and feedback-laden playing, and launched him as a major new international star. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #15 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 2005 Are You Experienced was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the United States.

History

After arriving in England in 1966, Hendrix formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass. The group signed with Track Records, newly formed by The Who's managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. The group's debut single appeared on Polydor Records, because Track was not yet operational. This group released three Top 10 hit UK singles produced by Chas Chandler: "Hey Joe"/"Stone Free" (December 1966), "Purple Haze"/"51st Anniversary" (March 1967, the first release by the new Track Records label, on a special white label) and "The Wind Cries Mary"/"Highway Chile" (May 1967). During the making of these singles, The Jimi Hendrix Experience also cut the tracks that became their debut album, which Chandler also produced with the Olympic Studios engineer Eddie Kramer (some tracks were recorded with engineers Dave Siddle at De Lane Lea and Mike Ross at CBS studios). Released in England that May without the three singles — as was the custom in the United Kingdom at that time — Are You Experienced and The Jimi Hendrix Experience quickly became a sensation all across Europe, with the album reaching number two in the United Kingdom, behind The Beatles's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Album cover

In Europe this LP was released by three different companies: the new "independent" Track Records, which produced the original cover with a picture by Bruce Fleming; the independent Barclay Records in France, which produced a completely different cover featuring a photo of Hendrix performing on a recent French TV show, surrounded by "psychedelic" painted, swirling graphics; and Polydor Records in Germany, Italy, and Spain. In Germany, Polydor used the original Track Records cover but added "Jimi Hendrix" in similar lime green text above the white Are You Experienced logos on the front; in Italy this added text was red, while in Spain it was yellow. These latter releases featured "fake" stereo, processed from mono. The back cover had a track list added.
Barclay Records of France added final punctuation to the album title: Are You Experienced?. Some tracklists of the album also add the question mark to the title track. The South African Polydor release (due to the apartheid racial barrier, and that the main customer base was seen to be "whites") had no pictures, only text on a plain red background (mono only). Japan, Australia and New Zealand Polydor (mono only) copies used the original United Kingdom layout.

The Reprise USA & Canada compilation release

It was only after the band's show-stealing performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of that year that his United States and Canada label reprise records prepared the album for release, but with some significant changes. The United Kingdom cover was abandoned, and a more psychedelic design was devised by photographer Karl Ferris (whose group portraits appeared on all three the band's U.S. album covers). This is the cover image that most people are familiar with is the fish-eye, color infrared film photography.

Secondly, and more crucially, "Red House", "Can You See Me" and "Remember" were all removed - in order to make way for the three U.K. hit singles, with the running order being shuffled in the process. This time the running order was selected by Hendrix himself, but "Red House" was excluded from the album against his wishes. He was told that the United States and Latin America did "not like the blues". This selection of tracks was also remixed into stereo. In August, the United States version of Are You Experienced saw issue in both the original mono mix and the new stereo mix and became a strong and enduring seller. Indeed, Hendrix's own follow-up, The Beatles's Axis: Bold As Love, out that December in the United Kingdom, had to be detained for six weeks due to his debut's stellar sales (and it still wouldn't reach its peak of #5 until October 1968).

The CD releases

The original Reprise (USA/Canada) CD was originally identical to their original stereo LP version, whereas the European CD release used the original UK track list, but replaced with the Reprise stereo re-mix versions (except for the original mono version of 'Red House', which has never been mixed into stereo and 'Remember', which used the mono version, but processed to "sound stereo").

The 1993 Alan Douglas re-release (MCA 10893) had a chronological track list, starting with the first three UK singles A and B sides replaced by the Reprise stereo mixes (except for "Stone Free", "51st Anniversary", and "Highway Chile") and followed by the original track list of the UK LP. The version of "Red House" included on this CD edition was the same as that originally included on the US LP "Smash Hits" in 1969, and different from the version of "Red House" present on the original Track UK LP. That original Track UK LP version can be heard on the CD "Jimi Hendrix: Blues."

After Jimi's father, Al Hendrix, won back the rights to his son's musical catalogue, Are You Experienced was again re-issued in 1997 (MCA 11602) and 2010, now under Sony Music Entertainment worldwide, preserving the UK and US versions in their respective territories and including the extra tracks missing from the respective editions and restoring the original mono version of "Red House" (minus the dialogue at the end). This new re-mastering was marred by audible crackles through the stereo panning on "Can You See Me", and also, more seriously, on the CD release, by heavy clipping throughout; the vinyl LP release doesn't suffer from the clipping.

The current 2010 release only differs slightly, with minor tweaks in the sound with the help from Hendrix's original sound engineer Eddie Kramer.

Reception

Are You Experienced has been cited as one of the greatest debut albums of the rock era. The TV channel VH1 named it the fifth greatest album of all time in 2001. In 2003, the US version of the album was ranked number 15 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, having been ranked as number 5 in their twentieth anniversary listing The Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years published in 1987. Guitarist magazine named the album number one on their list of "the most influential guitar albums of all time" in 1994 and Mojo magazine similarly listed it as the greatest guitar album of all time in 2003. Creem magazine named the album number six on the Top Ten Metal Albums Of The 60s. Vibe (12/99, p. 156) included it in its list of 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century. NME (10/2/93, p. 29) ranked it #29 in its list of the "Greatest Albums Of All Time".

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