Electric Ladyland

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Electric Ladyland
Reprise Records cover sold in North America
Studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Released October 16, 1968
Recorded July and December 1967,
January and April–August 1968;
Olympic Studios, London,
and Record Plant Studios and Mayfair Studios, New York
Genre Rock, hard rock, psychedelic, funk
Length 75:47
Language English
Label Reprise, Track, Barclay, Polydor
Producer Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix chronology
Axis: Bold as Love
(1967)
Electric Ladyland
(1968)
Band of Gypsys
(1970)
Singles from Electric Ladyland
  1. "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"
    Released: August 17, 1967
  2. "All Along the Watchtower"
    Released: September 21, 1968
  3. "Crosstown Traffic"
    Released: November 21, 1968
  4. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
    Released: 1970

Electric Ladyland is the third and final studio album by English-American rock band the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in October 1968 by Reprise Records. The double album was the only record from the band that was produced by Jimi Hendrix. By mid-November, it had charted at number one in the US, where it spent two weeks at the top spot. Electric Ladyland was the Experience's most commercially successful release and their only number one album. It peaked at number six in the UK, where it spent 12 weeks on the chart.

Electric Ladyland included a cover of the Bob Dylan song, "All Along the Watchtower", which became the Experience's highest-selling single and their only top 40 hit in the US, peaking at number 20; the single reached number five in the UK. The album also included Hendrix's first recorded song to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal, "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", which reached number 18 in the UK charts.

Although it confounded critics upon its release, Electric Ladyland has since been viewed as Hendrix's best work and one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It has been featured on many greatest album lists, including Q magazine's 2003 list of the 100 greatest albums and Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, in which it was ranked 54th.

Recording and production[edit]

Recording sessions for the Jimi Hendrix Experience's third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, began at the newly opened Record Plant Studios, with Chandler as producer and engineers Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren.[1] As recording progressed, Chandler became increasingly frustrated with Hendrix's perfectionism and his demands for repeated takes.[2] Hendrix allowed numerous friends and guests to join them in the studio, which contributed to a chaotic and crowded environment in the control room and led Chandler to sever his professional relationship with Hendrix.[2] Redding later recalled: "There were tons of people in the studio; you couldn't move. It was a party, not a session."[3] Redding, who had formed his own band in mid-1968, Fat Mattress, found it increasingly difficult to fulfill his commitments with the Experience, so Hendrix played many of the bass parts on Electric Ladyland.[2] The album's cover stated that it was "produced and directed by Jimi Hendrix".[2] The double LP was the only Experience album to be mixed entirely in stereo.[4]

During the Electric Ladyland recording sessions, Hendrix began experimenting with other combinations of musicians, including Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady and Traffic's Steve Winwood, who played bass and organ respectively on the fifteen-minute slow-blues jam, "Voodoo Chile".[2] During the album's production, Hendrix appeared at an impromptu jam with B.B. King, Al Kooper, and Elvin Bishop.[5][nb 1] Electric Ladyland was released in October 1968, and by mid-November it had reached number one in the US, spending two weeks at the top spot.[7] The double LP was the Experience's most commercially successful release and their only number one album.[8] It peaked at number six in the UK, spending 12 weeks on the chart.[9]

Hendrix's studio perfectionism was legendary – he and Mitch Mitchell recorded well over 50 takes of "Gypsy Eyes" over three sessions.[10] Hendrix was generally insecure about his voice and often recorded his vocals hidden behind studio screens. Hendrix sang all the backing vocals himself on the title track and on "Long Hot Summer Night". He was said to be very happy with the vocal results on "Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)".[11]

Music[edit]

According to music journalist David Stubbs, Electric Ladyland is "undoubtedly a rock album, albeit rock on the point of evolving into something else."[12] Uncut magazine's John Robinson said that its music reconciles the psychedelic pop of Hendrix's earlier recordings with the aggressive funk he would explore on his 1970 album Band of Gypsys.[13] During its recording, Kramer experimented with innovative studio techniques such as backmasking, chorus effect, echo, and flanging, which AllMusic's Cub Koda said recontextualized Hendrix's psychedelic and funk sounds on the album.[14]

Electric Ladyland is a cross-section of Hendrix's wide range of musical talent. It includes examples of several genres and styles of music: the psychedelic "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", a UK single the previous summer (1967), the extended blues jam "Voodoo Chile", the New Orleans-style R&B of Earl King's "Come On", the epic studio production of "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)", the social commentary of "House Burning Down", and the Sixties-era Britpop of Noel Redding's "Little Miss Strange". The album also features an electric reworking of the Bob Dylan classic "All Along the Watchtower", which has been well received by critics as well as by Dylan himself,[15] and also "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", a staple of both radio and guitar repertoire. Rolling Stone's Holly George-Warren praised "Crosstown Traffic" for its hard rock guitar riff.[16]

Electric Ladyland included Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's song, "All Along the Watchtower", which became the band's highest-selling single and their only US top 40 hit, peaking at number 20; the single reached number five in the UK.[17] The album also included Hendrix's first recorded song to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal, "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", which reached number 18 in the UK charts.[18]

Cover[edit]

A color photograph of a record sleeve featuring an image of several naked woman
The outer record sleeve UK cover by the photographer David Montgomery and later Polydor reissue distributed in Europe

Hendrix had written to Reprise describing what he wanted for the cover art, but was mostly ignored. He expressly asked for a color photo by Linda Eastman of the group sitting with children on a sculpture from Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, and drew a picture of it for reference.[19] The company instead used a blurred red and yellow photo of his head, taken by Karl Ferris.[citation needed] Track Records used its art department, which produced a cover image by photographer David Montgomery, who also shot the inside cover portrait of Hendrix, depicting nineteen nude women lounging in front of a black background.[20] Hendrix expressed displeasure and embarrassment with this "naked lady" cover, much as he was displeased with the Axis: Bold As Love cover which he found disrespectful.[21]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[14]
Blender 5/5 stars[22]
Down Beat 5/5 stars[23]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[24]
Q 4/5 stars[25]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[26]
Uncut 5/5 stars[13]

Electric Ladyland was released in the US on October 16, 1968.[27] By mid-November, it had reached number one in the US, spending two weeks at the top spot.[28] The double LP was the Experience's most commercially successful release and his only number one album.[8] It peaked at number six in the UK, spending 12 weeks on the chart.[9] Electric Ladyland confounded contemporary music critics, who praised some of its songs, but felt that the album lacked structure and sounded too dense.[29] Melody Maker found the album "mixed-up and muddled", with the exception of "All Along the Watchtower", which the magazine called a masterpiece.[29] In a negative review for Rolling Stone, Tony Glover preferred the less difficult "Little Miss Strange" to songs such as "Voodoo Chile" and "1983", which he felt were marred by reactively harsh playing.[29] Critic Robert Christgau ranked it as the fifth best album of the year in his ballot for Jazz & Pop magazine's annual critics poll.[30]

Over time, opinion of the album has significantly improved among critics, with author and musicologist John Perry describing it as "one of the greatest double-albums in rock."[29] According to author Michael Heatley, "most critics agree" that Electric Ladyland is "the fullest realization of Jimi's far-reaching ambitions"; Guitar World editor Noe Goldwasser called it his greatest work.[31] Christgau viewed the album as the definitive work of psychedelic music,[22] describing it as "an aural utopia that accommodates both ingrained conflict and sweet, vague spiritual yearnings, held together by a master musician".[32]

Electric Ladyland has been featured on many greatest album lists including a number 10 ranking on Classic Rock UK's list of 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever[33] and number 37 on The Times' 100 Best Albums of All Time.[34] Music journalist and author Peter Doggett argued that it is very likely the greatest rock album of all time because of its exceptional concept, artful melodies, experimentation, and skilled musicianship, which he felt remains unparalleled by any other rock artist.[35] In 2003, Q magazine included it on its list of the 100 greatest albums ever,[36] while Rolling Stone ranked it 54th on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[37] Tom Larson identified Electric Ladyland as an essential hard rock album in his 2004 book History of Rock and Roll.[38]

Track listing[edit]

US cover release[edit]

All songs written by Jimi Hendrix, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "...And the Gods Made Love"   1:21
2. "Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)"   2:11
3. "Crosstown Traffic"   2:25
4. "Voodoo Chile"   15:00
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Little Miss Strange" (Noel Redding) 2:52
6. "Long Hot Summer Night"   3:27
7. "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" (Earl King) 4:09
8. "Gypsy Eyes"   3:43
9. "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"   3:39
Side three
No. Title Length
10. "Rainy Day, Dream Away"   3:42
11. "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)"   13:39
12. "Moon, Turn the Tides... Gently Gently Away"   1:02
Side four
No. Title Length
13. "Still Raining, Still Dreaming"   4:25
14. "House Burning Down"   4:33
15. "All Along the Watchtower" (Bob Dylan) 4:01
16. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"   5:12

UK cover release[edit]

Disc one, sides one and four
No. Title Length
1. "And the Gods Made Love"   1:22
2. "Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)"   2:11
3. "Crosstown Traffic"   2:25
4. "Voodoo Chile"   15:02
5. "Still Raining, Still Dreaming"   4:25
6. "House Burning Down"   4:33
7. "All Along the Watchtower" (Bob Dylan) 4:00
8. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"   5:13
Disc two, sides two and three
No. Title Length
9. "Little Miss Strange" (Noel Redding) 2:51
10. "Long Hot Summer Night"   3:27
11. "Come On" (Earl King) 4:10
12. "Gypsy Eyes"   3:43
13. "The Burning of the Midnight Lamp"   3:40
14. "Rainy Day, Dream Away"   3:42
15. "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)"   4:49
16. "Moon, Turn the Tides...Gently Gently Away"   9:54

Other[edit]

As was common with multi-LP albums, sides one and four were pressed back to back on the same platter, likewise sides two and three. This was called auto-coupling or automatic sequence and was intended to make it easier to play through the entire album in sequence on automatic record-changers. In this case it has led to some CD releases of Electric Ladyland that have the sides in the incorrect one-four-two-three order. The cassette tape version altered the running order to keep both sides of the tape as equal as possible, a standard practice.

The original LP version of "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" is 13:39 and "Moon, Turn the Tides... Gently, Gently Away" is 1:01, the total being 14:40. On the "Nudes" version, "1983" is 4:49 while "Moon, Turn the Tides" is 9:54, the total being 14:43, three seconds longer than the original.

Personnel[edit]

Credits taken from the 1993 MCA compact disc booklet.

Additional personnel[edit]

On "Rainy Day, Dream Away" and "Still Raining, Still Dreaming":

Production[edit]

  • First CD remaster by Lee Herschberg (Reprise 6307-2)
  • Second CD remaster by Alan Douglas - Remastering by Joe Gastwirt, Liner notes by Michael Fairchild
  • Third CD remaster by Experience Hendrix - Remastering by Eddie Kramer and George Marino, Art direction by Vartan, Liner notes by Jeff Leve, Essay by Derek Taylor

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1968 Billboard Top 200 Albums 1
1968 UK Albums Chart 6[39]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1967 "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" UK Singles Chart 18[40]
1968 "All Along the Watchtower" Billboard Hot 100 20
UK Singles Chart 5[40]
"Crosstown Traffic" Billboard Hot 100 52[41]
1969 "Crosstown Traffic" UK Singles Chart 37[40]
1970 "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" UK Singles Chart 1[40]
1971 "Gypsy Eyes/Remember" UK Singles Chart 35[40]
1990 "All Along the Watchtower EP (with "Hey Joe" & "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)") UK Singles Chart 52[40]
1990 "Crosstown Traffic" UK Singles Chart 61

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In March 1968, Jim Morrison of the Doors joined Hendrix onstage at the Scene Club in New York.[6]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Heatley 2009, pp. 102–103: Recording began with Chandler and Kramer; McDermott 2009, pp. 95–97: Kellgren.
  2. ^ a b c d e Heatley 2009, p. 102.
  3. ^ Shadwick 2003, p. 157.
  4. ^ Heatley 2009, p. 103.
  5. ^ Shadwick 2003, p. 146.
  6. ^ Black 1999, p. 137.
  7. ^ McDermott 2009, pp. 126–127: US release date; Rosen 1996, p. 108: peak chart position.
  8. ^ a b Murray 1989, p. 51.
  9. ^ a b Roberts 2005, p. 232.
  10. ^ McDermott et al., Ultimate Hendrix, pp. 98-100.
  11. ^ Electric Ladyland, MCAD 10895, 1993, liner notes.
  12. ^ Stubbs 2003, p. 60.
  13. ^ a b Robinson, John. "Album review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland". Uncut (London). Archived from the original on March 23, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Koda, Cub. "Electric Ladyland - Jimi Hendrix". AllMusic. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ Dimery, Robert. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, ISBN 0-7893-1371-5, p.136
  16. ^ George-Warren 2001, p. 428.
  17. ^ Heatley 2009, p. 102: "All Along the Watchtower" was Hendrix's only US top 40 hit single; : "All Along the Watchtower" was Hendrix's highest-selling single; Roberts 2005, p. 232: peak UK chart position for Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower"; Whitburn 2010, p. 294: peak US chart position for Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower".
  18. ^ Roberts 2005, p. 232: peak UK chart position for "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"; Shadwick 2003, p. 118: "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" was Hendrix's first recorded song to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal.
  19. ^ Electric Ladyland. Experience Hendrix/MCA 11600, 1997, liner notes.
  20. ^ Electric Ladyland. Track Records 613 010, 1968, cover photo.
  21. ^ Unterberger, Richie (2009). The Rough Guide to Jimi Hendrix. Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84836-002-0. pp.146-147
  22. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 2005). "Back Catalogue: Jimi Hendrix". Blender (New York). Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Review: Electric Ladyland". Down Beat (Chicago): 61. August 1997. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  24. ^ Larkin 2006, p. 249.
  25. ^ "Review: Electric Ladyland". Q (London): 136. December 1993. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  26. ^ Evans & Brackett 2004, pp. 374-75.
  27. ^ McDermott 2009, p. 117.
  28. ^ McDermott 2009, pp. 126–127; Rosen 1996, p. 108: peak chart position.
  29. ^ a b c d Perry 2004.
  30. ^ Christgau, Robert (1969). "Robert Christgau's 1969 Jazz & Pop Ballot". Jazz & Pop. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  31. ^ Heatley 2009, p. 102; Whitehill 1989, p. 5
  32. ^ Christgau 1998, p. 98.
  33. ^ "Rocklist.net...Steve Parker...Classic Rock Lists". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved January 15, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Rocklist.net...The Times All Time Top 100 Albums - 1993". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved January 15, 2013. 
  35. ^ Doggett 2004, p. 19.
  36. ^ "100 Greatest Albums Ever". Q (London): 64. January 2003. 
  37. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (New York): 112. December 11, 2003. 
  38. ^ Larson 2004, p. 152.
  39. ^ "UK chart history - The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland". www.chartstats.com. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  40. ^ a b c d e f The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the UK Singles Chart, The Official Charts.
  41. ^ Jimi Hendrix Album and Song Chart History, Billboard.com.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company
Billboard 200 number-one album
November 16–29, 1968
Succeeded by
Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell