One of the greatest records ever made just got better. Jimi Hendrix’s third release, 1968’s trail-blazing double album, Electric Ladyland, is acknowledged as a masterpiece in the history of popular music and is revered as the guitarist’s crowning achievement in the studio. It represents the moment when Hendrix first seized full artistic control of his music — and he viewed it as a new beginning. Now, a half century since its release, Legacy Recording/Sony Music has teamed up with Experience Hendrix LLC to offer a truly incredible, expanded 50th-anniversary Electric Ladyland box set.
The Electric Ladyland Deluxe Edition includes a newly re-mastered version of the original album. Engineer Bernie Grundman worked from the original two-track master analog tapes for which an all-analog direct-to-disc transfer was done for the audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl edition of the album. Also included in this expanded set is another double disc, At Last… The Beginning: The Making of Electric Ladyland: The Early Takes, which compiles early demos, recorded by Hendrix in his apartment, plus studio outtakes of many of the best-known songs from the album, including “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be),” “Voodoo Chile,” “Gypsys Eyes,” “Long Hot Summer Night,” “Little Miss Strange” and “Rainy Day, Dream Away”; as well as including early incarnations of “Angel,” “Cherokee Mist,” “Hear My Train A’ Comin’,” “My Friend” and many more.
The release is also available as a three-CD set. The vinyl and CD versions include a Blu-Ray/DVD documentary that captures the story of the sessions, as told via interviews with Chas Chandler, plus Experience bandmates Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, and includes in-the-studio film footage narrated by engineer/producer Eddie Kramer. If that's not enough, the DVD includes high-resolution audio versions of the original stereo mixes in 96KHz/24bit, as well as a 5.1 Surround Sound mix, also presented in high-resolution 96KHz/24bit audio.
Hendrix wrapped up the sessions for Electric Ladyland between 4 and 6 a.m. August 28, 1968, when he cut the final track, a cover of Earl King’s “Come On (Part One).” He’d resume his grueling touring schedule two days later in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Lagoon Opera House, appearing with Soft Machine. On September 14, midway through his West Coast run, Hendrix headlined with the Experience at the Hollywood Bowl, supported by Eire Apparent (a band he was producing), Soft Machine and Vanilla Fudge. This performance has long been a favorite of Hendrix-ophiles, and it’s presented here in all of its raw, brutal and far-ranging beauty.
The vinyl edition of Live at the Hollywood Bowl is yet another double disc and is highlighted by an incendiary version of “Are You Experienced?” that’s kicked off with a three-and-a-half-minute eruption of intense guitar/bass feedback, accompanied by Mitchell’s explosive drumming, which Hendrix introduces as, “Celebrating the Call of the Black Panther.” It’s a complete and total assault on the senses and a wildly unconventional and aggressive way to start a concert. Hendrix and the band are brilliant throughout; highlights include phenomenal versions of “Red House,” “I Don’t Live Today,” “Little Wing” and early explorations of newly added tunes like “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” and Jimi’s groundbreaking reimagining of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The Electric Ladyland Deluxe Edition features a full-color 48-page booklet that contains reproductions of Jimi’s original hand-written lyrics and poems, plus his detailed instructions to the record company regarding his specifications for the album’s gatefold photographic layout and design. An additional bonus is the trove of never-before-published photos shot by Kramer during the sessions. Journalist David Fricke wrote expansive liner notes that offer perspective on the events leading up to the recording of the album as well as an insider’s view of the sessions and the events that followed.
The Electric Ladyland Deluxe Edition offers an opportunity to rediscover this masterpiece as Hendrix intended it — graphically and sonically. Fifty years later, the music sounds more powerful and more relevant than ever.