May 12, 2017

50 years ago today: The Jimi Hendrix Experience released "Are You Experienced?"

I still have my copy. It survived the proposed great album cull of 1976. I vividly remember my first husband going through the pile of record albums we'd lugged from place to place and selecting "Are You Experienced?" to hold up. "You're never going to listen to this again," he asserted.



Here's the "Are You Experienced?" Wikipedia page:
Soon after the [recording] session began, [producer Chas] Chandler asked Hendrix to turn his guitar amplifier down, and an argument ensued. Chandler commented: "Jimi threw a tantrum because I wouldn't let him play guitar loud enough ... He was playing a Marshall twin stack, and it was so loud in the studio that we were picking up various rattles and noises." According to Chandler, Hendrix then threatened to leave England, stating: "If I can't play as loud as I want, I might as well go back to New York." Chandler, who had Hendrix's immigration papers and passport in his back pocket, laid the documents on the mixing console and told Hendrix to "piss off."  Hendrix laughed and said: "All right, you called my bluff," and they got back to work.
Lots more detail about the recording at the link. I'll just pick out one more thing:
Although the lyrics to "Purple Haze", which opened the US edition of Are You Experienced, are often misinterpreted as describing an acid trip, Hendrix explained: "[It] was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea." He speculated that the dream may have been inspired by a science fiction story about a purple death ray. [Noel] Redding stated that Hendrix had not yet taken LSD at the time of the song's writing... It opens with a guitar/bass harmony in the interval of a tritone that was known as the diabolus in musica during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The Catholic Church prohibited medieval composers of religious music from using the tritone, or flattened fifth, because as musicologist Dave Whitehill wrote: "to play it was like ringing Satan's doorbell."

50 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

"You're never going to listen to this again," he asserted.

Was he right? ( At least so far? )

RB Glennie said...

Great, great album, still one of my favourites...

YoungHegelian said...

It opens with a guitar/bass harmony in the interval of a tritone that was known as the diabolus in musica during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The Catholic Church prohibited medieval composers of religious music from using the tritone, or flattened fifth, because as musicologist Dave Whitehill wrote: "to play it was like ringing Satan's doorbell."

As much fun as Hendrix & crew were, they should not be seen as musicological sources on compositional techniques of the Renaissance, Spanish or otherwise.

Back on topic, it's amazing how many "Acid Songs" weren't about acid at all (speaking of musicology!). The Byrds' "Eight Miles High" is about their plane flight & visit to London, as the lyrics make very plain if you listen to them.

Carol said...

The guy next door took me over to CalTech on his Triumph to get some dope. The guys in the dorm room showed us a kilo of pot in a trunk, and played this album. They bragged about breaking into a prof's office to get exam answers.

Loved the album and bought my own right away. Everything was right about it. The guitar, finally unleashed!

I wonder what happened to those guys.

Limited blogger said...

"hello, who's there?"

"It's Jimi"

chickelit said...

Although the lyrics to "Purple Haze", which opened the US edition of Are You Experienced, are often misinterpreted as describing an acid trip, Hendrix explained: "[It] was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea."

I thought "Purple Haze" was one of Owsley's named batches of acid, much like "Blue Cheer" was. Anyways, "Purple Haze" is a trademarked beer out of NOLA these days.

chickelit said...

White collar conservative flashin down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me, they all assume my kind will drop and die, but I'm gonna wave my freak flag high.

I recently pulled out that line from memory for my wife as we visited an appropriate place.

Fernandinande said...

Color infrared film was a lot of fun!

Gahrie said...

Jimi and Eric are the bookends of the guitar gods.

Nonapod said...

My second favorite of his (Axis: As Bold as Love being the first).

I remember learning about those octave shapes on guitar in Third Stone from the Sun. You make them with your index and ring fingers like a typical 1-5 power chord (but 1-8) and can move them all over just like power chords too. You can hear them being played in all sorts of heavier alt-rock songs from the 90s, like Smashing Pumpkins Cherub Rock.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"You're never going to listen to this again," he asserted.

Channeling myself in that situation......."Eff you!. Don't be asserting at ME. This is my stuff and you aren't going to tell me what to throw out or keep. You want me to throw out YOUR things! Watch this!!!" :-D

I still have that album too, although it isn't among my favorites of that time period. The tritone, diminished 5th chords and other variations on the major chords are what makes music interesting and compelling.

Ambrose said...

It remains amazing to me how much great music came out in just the one year of 1967.

LordSomber said...

A Brief History of the Devil's Tritone:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/77321/brief-history-devils-tritone

Fernandinande said...

It opens with a guitar/bass harmony in the interval of a tritone that was known as the diabolus in musica

AKA part of a regular old blues scale.

"an infrared technique of his own invention which combined color reversal with heat signature"

Heh, no. Infrared film only reacts to near-infrared, under 900 nm. The pic looks like the standard IR film of the time.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

So much original creativity here. Nothing like it before or since. Between RUE and the Band Of Gypsies record you have all you need to hear the complete scope of the greatest electric guitar player ever. From brilliant, innovative studio craftsmanship to pure improvisational genius.

"White collar conservative flashin down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me, they all assume my kind will drop and die, but I'm gonna wave my freak flag high."

Different record. "If 6 Was 9" from Axis Bold As Love.

Sean Gleeson said...

"the interval of a tritone that was known as the diabolus in musica during the time of the Spanish Inquisition."

That is at best only technically true, given that the Spanish Inquisition was not officially decommissioned until sometime in the 19th Century, and the phrase diabolus in musica was used in the 1700s. But the implicit assertion (that using these notes was prosecuted as some kind of heresy) is fake news.

"The Catholic Church prohibited medieval composers of religious music from using the tritone, or flattened fifth"

Yeah, that never happened.

Good song, though. I had it on vinyl myself.

Fernandinande said...

Zappa's cover of 'Purple Haze'

Unknown said...

Is there any other rock and roll band beside the Jimi Hendrix Experience where every member is dead? I can't think of one.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the Zappa link.

Excuse me while I kiss this guy.

Jack Wayne said...

There is a band I like very much from Spain named Diabulus In Musica. I never bothered to look up the meaning of their name.

chickelit said...

Billy Cox is still alive. He was a better bass player than Noel Redding was. Redding turned out to be quite the drama queen which is why Hendrix didn't mind seeing him go.

Etienne said...

"Never buy anything yellow..." - Rodney Dangerfield

Widmerpool said...

If you are a Hendrix fan, worth checking out Gary Clark, Jr.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q3YER9Z48U

tcrosse said...

As an act of cultural appropriation, British Violinis Nigel Kennedy does Purple Haze.
Nigel Kennedy's cover of 'Purple Haze'

Robert Cook said...

My favorite Hendrix album, by far, is BAND OF GYPYS. Billy Cox's bass, as stated above, is superior to Noel Redding's and Hendrix's playing displays a soulfulness that I find missing in his earlier playing.

Etienne said...

In Time magazine in the May 12, 1967 issue under Milestones:

"Born. To Cass Elliott, 23, Brūnnhilde-sized pop rocker with The Mamas and the Papas quartet, and her husband, Singer Jim Hendricks, 26, from whom she is separated: a daughter; in Los Angeles, thus making her the group's first bona fide Mama."

No, not Hendrix, but Hendricks - not Jimi, but Jim :-) Jim married her to avoid the draft.

Is "Brūnnhilde-sized" considered hate-speech?

"Brunnhilde is usually depicted as a well-upholstered lady who appears for a ten minute solo to conclude proceedings. 'When the fat lady sings' is a reasonable answer to the question 'when will it be over?'"

surfed said...

How so very strange. I saw Jimi open for the Monkees and saw him again at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968. But just last night at midnight completely unaware that it was the 50th anniversary of the album I watched the Netflix biopic of early Jimi being discovered and brought to England by Chas Chandler. The ensuing flabergasted dicovery of Jimi by m God/Slowhand and others on the English scene. Lotsa' love angles from the English birds who were quite taken with this "guitar slinging wild man from Borneo". The movie reaches it apex with Jimi performing a just learned in the waiting room "Sgt Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band" at a show two days after the album was released and in the face of the attending Beatles who were thrilled. The movie faded to black and the credits as Jimi arrives for back in the USA for Monterey Pop.
Check it out. But don't eat the brown acid.

Michael in ArchDen said...

Needs the "fisheye" tag...or am I the only one who remembers that one?

Bay Area Guy said...

Sex, drugs and rock n roll, Baby! The only downside, of course, was early death - like what happened to Jimi (age 28).

If I had died at age 28, I wouldn't have gotten married, owned a nice home, had some sweet kids, coached my daughter's volleyball team, made a living, etc, etc.

I guess the ultimate question (for Jimi) is, was it worth it?

A secondary question is, was it worth it to the generation influenced by Jimi? Well, the social benefits for young males were enormous! We could smoke dope with girls, while playing air guitar to the pulsating music of Jimi, and then sleep with the girls. Like living a junior varsity version of Jimi without the hard drug overdose, and early death!

I think we got the better end of the deal, with the added benefit of shaping up our lives and then voting for Reagan.

Jay Elink said...

It's called a diminished fifth, or flatted fifth. Not "flattened".

Thus endeth today's musical pedantry.

Ryan said...

Jazz bassist Anthony Jackson has said that the supposedly Devilish tritone is "the central interval on which to build harmonies and melodies, as opposed to the major or minor third…"

He said the tritone "has been extremely important to me from the first day I heard Messiaen playing his own music on organ.” Messiaen's organ music changed his life “irrevocably and forever," despite that it is much different from Jazz.

Messiaen's 1935 organ work La Nativité du Seigneu, which so inspired Jackson, is chocked full of tritones but means "The Nativity of the Lord or The Birth of the Saviour." It is inspired by Jesus.

Jason said...

There's a b5th interval in every 7th chord. Any chord with a 1,3,5,b7 has a b5 interval between the 3 and b7 degrees of the scale, and once you get to 4 part harmony, you need that just to get a V-I cadence.

So I don't see the Church Ladies of the harmony world setting any such prohibitions on using a b7, unless you're talking pure quartal harmony stuff. But that is the basis of a lot of early music (and retains some influence in Scottish music today).

Jason said...

"Jazz bassist Anthony Jackson has said that the supposedly Devilish tritone is "the central interval on which to build harmonies and melodies, as opposed to the major or minor third…"

You can go a long way just alternating major thirds and diminished fifths and pushing them all over the cycle of fifths... it's really at the heart of jazz harmony. And until recently, pop harmony!

YoungHegelian said...

Mi contra Fa est Diabolus in Musica.

B [natural] against F is the Devil in Music.

Thus endeth today's musical pedantry.

No, no. Not quite yet.

CJ said...

"You're never going to listen to this again," he asserted.

He was obviously channeling the lyrics of Third Stone From the Sun on the B side of the album:

Oh strange beautiful grass of green
with your majestic silken scenes
Your mysterious mountains
I wish to see closer
May I land my kinky machine

Although your world wonders me
with your majestic superior cackling hen
Your people I do not understand
So to you I wish to put an end
And you'll never hear surf music again

Jason said...

LOVE the Are You Experienced album!

More for Jimi's amazing, innovative rhythm playing than the lead playing. Jimi's amazing R&B style is still the Gold Standard for rhythm/accompaniment for that kind of stuff.

Etienne said...

"Many older people don't respond well to large amounts of yellow because it vibrates too fast for them."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

A tritone and a diminished fifth sound identical, but they aren't the same thing.

Etienne said...

A "diminished fifth" is when your buddy sneaks a second swig in on you, as you keep an eye out for the train bull.

SukieTawdry said...

I still have mine, too (I would never consider a vinyl cull). Do you have a Sgt. Pepper complete with the cardboard cutouts?

Gabriel said...

In 1967 people were actually listening to the Monkees.

Just as every Frenchman retroactively joined the resistance, every Boomer retroactively became a Hendrix fan.

BudBrown said...

Hey, don't forget Snoopy versus the Red Baron

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

So, if Hendrix use a flatted fifth (which was like ringing Satan's doorbell), did Dylan, when he composed "Knocking On Heaven's Door," use a sharped fifth? If he did, I'll just die. Too lazy to look it up.

SukieTawdry said...

I was 21 in 1967 and not listening to the Monkees. I bought the Hendrix album as soon as it came out.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

I am a post babyboomer (65), fairly conservative, very patriotic White male, and I will always love Jimi for his version of the Star Spangled Banner. If I ever become the principal of a high school, it's going into the daily rotation.

chickelit said...

@Gahrie: I noticed the same thing (plus he did it w/ the Brits) and I wrote about it.

Douglas said...

It's hard to pick a favorite song on this album: "Manic Depression," "Third Stone from the Sun," "Are You Experienced," and "The Wind Cries Mary" all vie for best. I did get to see Hendrix at Woodstock - sitting in the mud, down front, at sunrise. Not necessarily the high point of my life but on the list.

Liesl said...

Douglas @3:21am-- So cool. I just love that era of rock (late '60s, '70s). The only band I didn't miss out on entirely is Rush, and now they're retired (well deservingly, I might add).