Jimi Hendrix’s isolated guitar tracks from Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) studio outtakes have been posted on YouTube and they sound incredible

Jimi Hendrix
(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns)

Jimi Hendrix’s isolated guitar tracks from the Electric Ladyland sessions have been posted to YouTube. The audio, over 30 minutes in total, features various outtakes of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), with the Jimi Hendrix Experience almost feeling their way into the track, pausing periodically to gather their equilibrium before going again. 

The sound quality is incredible. There are some great electric guitar moments in this. This guitar might be isolated but there’s enough bleed in here to get a feel for the room he is recording in. It’s more the kind of mix you’d make of it if you wanted to really zero in on what Hendrix is doing on that Fender Stratocaster of his..

Oftentimes, that’s blowing minds. Hearing him play that riff, working through it, not yet in full command of it, reminds us that we might be able to play the notes and it’ll sound good but it’ll never sound like Hendrix. Not really. 

That might be dispiriting but then again, at 5:30 mins in, when Hendrix stops for a breather, a quick tune-up, it is a sound that could come from anyone’s rehearsal space, in any part of the world, the clan of a single-coil guitar tuning up uniquely humanizing a player who was otherwise not of this Earth.

Speaking of which, there is no note as to the providence of the audio. This, coming in a month where there have been all these UFOs falling out of the sky across the US, well, that’s enough to get any Roswell mythologist buzzing, and it would help advance the theory above that Hendrix was of interstellar origin rather than Seattle, Washington.

The audio is punctuated by pauses and 60-cycle hum and the sound of Hendrix’s voice marching his troops to the top of the hill again. “One more time.” Dumm-duh-dum-dum dum-dum-dum. Much like aerobic exercise, the band really start to open up after 10 minutes. Hendrix starts opening up. You can only imagine the volume in the control room, but then this gives us a good idea how that might sound.

Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) features on The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s third studio album, Electric Ladyland, which was tracked between July and December 1967, with more sessions following in 1968. These outtakes of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) are said to be dated May 3, 1968. 

Producer Chas Chandler was in the house, Eddie Kramer engineering, but it was Hendrix who was skippering the project throughout, relentless in search of the perfect take. This was an album “Produced and directed by Jimi Hendrix.”

This notion of Hendrix the perfectionist is interesting. He might have strove for perfection but had the good sense to let magic and chance play its part in finding it. We think of perfectionists these days being wedded to technologies that clean up takes digitally; Hendrix’s idea of perfection allowed for a little disorder – and we like the sounds of that.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.