Axis: Bold as Love
|Axis: Bold as Love|
|Studio album by|
|Released||December 1, 1967|
|Recorded||May–June, October 1967|
|Jimi Hendrix US chronology|
|Jimi Hendrix UK chronology|
|Singles from Axis: Bold as Love|
Axis: Bold as Love is the second studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Track Records first released it in the United Kingdom in December 1, 1967, only seven months after the release of the group's highly successful debut, Are You Experienced. In the United States, Reprise Records delayed the release until the following month. The album reached the top ten in the album charts in both countries.
For the album, the group displayed several musical styles and critics saw it as demonstrating Jimi Hendrix's growth as a songwriter. The album introduced "Spanish Castle Magic" and "Little Wing", two Hendrix compositions which draw on his roots performing with rhythm and blues bands, that would remain in his live repertoire throughout his career.
The album cover, which draws on Hindu religious iconography, has generated controversy. It was designed without Hendrix's approval, and he publicly expressed his dissatisfaction. However, the album went on to become quite successful and was certified platinum in the US and silver in the UK. In 2000, Axis: Bold as Love was voted number 147 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000). Rolling Stone ranked Axis: Bold as Love number 92 on its 2020 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Following the completion of Are You Experienced at the end of April 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience continued their schedule of regular recording sessions, returning to Olympic Studios in London on May 4, to begin composing material for a follow-up LP. With Chas Chandler as producer, Eddie Kramer as engineer, and George Chkiantz as second engineer, the band started the session by working on a Noel Redding original that he had written about hippies, titled "She's So Fine". It featured background vocals by Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell; Redding later recalled that Hendrix was enthusiastic to record the song because it was written in A with an open G chord that he enjoyed playing. They achieved a working master on the 23rd take, on which Redding overdubbed his lead vocal.[nb 1] The band also made initial recordings of what would become "If 6 Was 9", using the working titles of "Section A" and "Section B" to identify its two distinct segments. During a session the following day, Hendrix and Mitchell improved "Section B", now titled "Symphony of Experience", by re-recording most of their guitar and drum parts. A reduction mix prepared by Kramer made room for additional overdubs, including Hendrix's lead vocal, backing vocals, and a percussion effect created by Chandler, Hendrix, and guests Graham Nash and Gary Leeds stomping their feet on a drum platform. As an additional oddity, Hendrix played a recorder on the track, achieving what they considered a satisfactory sound despite his complete lack of formal training with the instrument.[nb 2] Also recorded during these sessions was the experimental track "EXP". In the span of two days, the group recorded basic tracks for seven compositions, though only three were included on the album.
On May 9, the Experience reconvened at Olympic with Chandler, Kramer and Chkiantz. Hendrix had been curious about a harpsichord that was stored in the facility's Studio A, so on this day he sat at the instrument and began writing "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", a song that became the fourth UK single for the Experience. Hendrix attempted four takes before stopping for the day, producing a rough demo that was approximately a minute and a half in length. On May 10, the band performed their latest single, "The Wind Cries Mary", on the BBC television program Top of the Pops.
After a month-long break from the studio while playing gigs in Europe, the Experience returned to Olympic on June 5. They devoted the session to a new Hendrix song titled "Cat Talking to Me", recording 17 takes before deciding that the second was the superior version, to which they added guitar and percussion overdubs after Kramer prepared a reduction mix. Although the song showed promise, no further work was completed on it, and it remains unreleased.
On June 18, 1967, the Experience made its U.S. debut at the Monterey Pop Festival. Immediately after the festival, Bill Graham booked them for a series of five concerts at the Fillmore.[nb 3] While they were in California, Chandler booked session time for June 28, 29 and 30 at Houston Studios in Los Angeles. Although they worked on "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" and a new Hendrix composition, "The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam's Dice", they abandoned the inferior recordings. Chandler commented: "I booked three days there because I was told it was a state-of-the-art studio, but it was dire. The place was like a rehearsal studio compared to Olympic. Los Angeles was so far behind at that time." After a week of performances in Los Angeles and New York, time was booked at Mayfair Studios in London for July 6 and 7.
Axis: Bold As Love's scheduled release date was almost delayed when Hendrix lost the master tape of side one of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a London taxi. With the deadline looming, Hendrix, Chas Chandler, and engineer Eddie Kramer remixed most of side one in a single overnight session, but they could not match the quality of the lost mix of "If 6 Was 9". Bassist Noel Redding had a tape recording of this mix, which had to be smoothed out with an iron as it had gotten wrinkled. During the verses, Hendrix doubled his singing with a guitar line which he played one octave lower than his vocals. Hendrix voiced his disappointment about having re-mixed the album so quickly, and he felt that it could have been better had they been given more time.
Kramer was patient with Hendrix, who often demanded numerous re-takes; however, by October 1967, Chandler had grown weary of the guitarist's perfectionism. Noel Redding was also frustrated by Hendrix's repeated demands for re-takes, and began to resent Hendrix's explicit instructions regarding what he played in the studio. Hendrix and Mitchell had begun to express their opinions regarding creative choices that had been left up to Chandler during the recording of Are You Experienced. Mitchell commented: "Axis was the first time that it became apparent that Jimi was pretty good working behind the mixing board, as well as playing, and had some positive ideas of how he wanted things recorded. It could have been the start of any potential conflict between him and Chas in the studio."
Music and lyrics
Many of the songs on Axis: Bold as Love were rarely performed live. Only "Spanish Castle Magic" and "Little Wing" were performed regularly. The lyrics of "Spanish Castle Magic" were inspired by The Spanish Castle, a dance hall in what is now Des Moines, Washington near Seattle where Hendrix jammed with local rock groups during his high school years. On "Little Wing" Hendrix plays his guitar through a Leslie speaker for the first time (a revolving speaker which creates a wavering effect, that is typically used with electric organs). According to Colin Larkin, Axis focused less on guitar playing than the previous Experience album, and more on Hendrix's "gifts as a songwriter." Author Charles Shaar Murray described Axis as "lighter, looser and more melodic" than its predecessor.
Axis: Bold as Love opens with "EXP", which innovatively utilizes microphonic and harmonic feedback. It also showcased an experimental stereo panning effect in which sounds emanating from Hendrix's guitar move through the stereo image, revolving around the listener. The piece reflected his growing interest in science fiction and outer space. Author Keith Shadwick described the track as "some of the wildest music Hendrix ever released."
"Wait Until Tomorrow" is a pop song with an R&B guitar riff with Mitchell and Redding singing backing vocals. The fifth track, "Ain't No Telling", is a rock song with a complex structure despite its short length. "Little Wing", as Hendrix himself said, was his impression of the Monterey Pop Festival put into the form of a girl. "If 6 Was 9", the last song on side one, is the album's longest track and arguably most psychedelic; Gary Leeds (from the Walker Brothers) and Graham Nash use their feet during the outro to make some stomping. The song features prominently on the soundtrack for the 1969 counterculture film Easy Rider.
"You Got Me Floatin'", a rock song opening with a swirling backwards guitar solo (which is absent on the mysterious, differently mixed Polydor version of this LP [only available in stereo], which outside France and the UK was the only one available in Europe), opens the second side of the album. Roy Wood and Trevor Burton from the Move, who toured with Hendrix on a package tour through Britain during winter 1967, supplied backing vocals. The following track, "Castles Made of Sand", is a ballad also making use of a backwards guitar solo. "She's So Fine", Redding's contribution to the album as a composer, a very British pop/rock Who-influenced piece, features Redding on lead vocals with help from Mitchell. "One Rainy Wish" begins as a ballad waltz but develops a rock feel during the chorus that is in a different time signature than the verses.
The song "Little Miss Lover" was the first to feature a percussive muted wah-wah effect (with the fretboard hand "killing" notes) - a technique that was later adopted by many guitarists. The final song of the album, "Bold as Love", opens very abruptly. With a psychedelic chorus and an extended solo at the end, it fades out the album. In 2005, Rolling Stone ranked "Little Wing" number 366 in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Hendrix composed the album's title track and finale around two verses and two choruses, during which he pairs emotions with personas, comparing them to colors. The song's coda features the first recording of stereo phasing.[nb 4] Numerous attempts at a basic rhythm track were undertaken before a satisfactory one was achieved on the 27th take. Shadwick described the composition as "possibly the most ambitious piece on Axis, the extravagant metaphors of the lyrics suggesting a growing confidence" in Hendrix's songwriting. His guitar playing throughout the song is marked by chordal arpeggios and contrapuntal motion, with tremolo-picked partial chords providing the musical foundation for the chorus, which culminates in what musicologist Andy Aledort described as "simply one of the greatest electric guitar solos ever played". The track fades out on tremolo-picked thirty-second note double stops. In 2011, Guitar World ranked the track number 24 in a list of Hendrix's 100 greatest performances.
Artwork and packaging
Hendrix expressed dismay regarding the album cover art, which depicts him and the Experience as various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a painting of them by Roger Law, from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris. Hendrix stated that the cover would have been more appropriate had it highlighted his American Indian heritage. The painted image of the Experience was then superimposed on top of a copy of a mass-produced religious poster. Hendrix commented: "The three of us have nothing to do with what's on the Axis cover." Unlike the previous album's cover art, both the UK and US editions featured the same image. Hindus have since expressed anger over the appropriation of the deity Vishnu for the album cover and poster. The Malaysian government's Home Ministry, in order to protect religious sensitivities following complaints, instituted a ban on the artwork from June 2014.
In November, a giant black and white blow-up of the Hapshash/Osiris poster featuring Hendrix dressed as a Native American wearing a feathered War Bonnet, was used as a background to his appearance on Hoepla, a controversial Dutch TV show. The original poster featured fantastic day-glo pink, orange & blue offset lithographs printed on gold foil. This poster, although produced later in London and supposedly commissioned by Hendrix, had text along the top to make it appear as if it was an original poster advertising his 1967 Fillmore concerts. The original prints of this poster are presumed to all be in private collections, and later copies which have surfaced have fetched high prices at auction.
The original Track UK issue came in a gatefold sleeve with a large black and white portrait photo of the group by Donald Silverstein spread over the inside and an orange sheet insert with overprinted lyrics in red; the allegedly high cost of this packaging was a topic of note in the music press. The US issue had no insert and instead of the group photo inside, had the lyrics. In Europe, the Polydor issue had no lyrics but added a 1-inch-wide (25 mm) white border round the inside portrait, while the French dispensed with the original cover entirely and instead used a non-gatefold sleeve with a photo of the group taken from a recent French TV show on the front.
Release and reception
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Great Rock Discography||9/10|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Track released Axis: Bold as Love in the UK on December 1, 1967, where it peaked at number five and spent 16 weeks on the charts. In February 1968, it charted at number three in the United States. The album was also well received by music critics, who praised its mixture of hard rock, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Reviewing Axis in 1968 for Rolling Stone, Jim Miller hailed it as "the refinement of white noise into psychedelia ... the finest voodoo album that any rock group has produced to date". Q magazine wrote in a retrospective review that the album "dazzles as the Experience creates a genre probably short-lived because nobody else could play it". AllMusic's Cub Koda considered it a demonstration of Hendrix's "remarkable growth and depth" as a songwriter, utilizing Curtis Mayfield-like soul guitar work, "Dylanesque lyrical imagery, and Fuzz Face hyperactivity to produce yet another side to his grand psychedelic musical vision". According to author Peter Doggett, the record "heralded a new subtlety in Hendrix's work", while BBC Music's Chris Jones said it is distinguished from his other Hendrix albums as his "coming-of-age-in-songwriting album ... his peak in crafting pop rock perfection".
Critics also found Axis: Bold as Love to be the least memorable of the Experience's three studio releases. According to Richie Unterberger, it was the least impressive from the Experience, while Kris Needs called the record a "transitional, but often overlooked, masterpiece". Reviewing Hendrix's back catalogue in 2005 for Blender, music essayist Robert Christgau acknowledged the adequate production and guitar quality on the album, and praised the fluidity of Mitchell's drumming; he criticised, however, the music's "spaced-out lightness", and the brevity of some tracks: "half the songs are forgettable as songs if fine as recordings."
In 2000, it was voted number 147 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums. Rolling Stone ranked Axis: Bold as Love number 92 on its 2020 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It also received the top spot on their list of the 40 greatest stoner albums in 2013. Guitarist magazine named the album number 7 on their list of "the most influential guitar albums of all time". In 2015, Consequence of Sound described the album as "a compelling psychedelic masterpiece." The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The original UK Track and US Reprise albums did not list running times for the songs. Instead, they are taken from the Reprise monaural promotional album. All songs written by Jimi Hendrix, except where noted.
|2.||"Up from the Skies"||2:55|
|3.||"Spanish Castle Magic"||3:00|
|4.||"Wait Until Tomorrow"||3:00|
|5.||"Ain't No Telling"||1:46|
|7.||"If Six Was Nine" (US edition spelling "If 6 Was 9")||5:32|
|1.||"You've Got Me Floating" (US edition spelling "You Got Me Floatin'")||2:45|
|2.||"Castles Made of Sand"||2:46|
|3.||"She's So Fine" (Noel Redding)||2:37|
|4.||"One Rainy Wish"||3:40|
|5.||"Little Miss Lover"||2:20|
|6.||"Bold as Love"||4:09|
The album was the last recording by Hendrix to have a dedicated mono mix, which was only released in the UK and US. The album was released in stereo in the rest of the world. The Polydor (Europe and Japan only) release mysteriously had a different stereo mix from that originally released in the UK, France, the US and the rest of the world. It later appeared on a Backtrack budget LP release but before long replaced the original mix on all Polydor reissues and re-pressings, outside of French Barclay territory and US/Canada Reprise, including the first UK CD. This may have been a simple confusion over which tape in Polydor's library was sent to the mastering facility. Later CD reissues have reverted to the original mix. The Backtrack mix can be found on Polydor CD 813 572-2, manufactured in West Germany.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- Jimi Hendrix – vocals, electric guitar, piano, recorder, glockenspiel on "Little Wing", voice of Mr. Paul Caruso on "EXP"
- Mitch Mitchell – drums, backing vocals, interviewer on "EXP"
- Noel Redding – backing vocals, bass guitars (four- and eight-string), foot stomping on "If 6 Was 9", lead vocals on "She's So Fine"
- Gary Leeds – foot stomping on "If 6 Was 9"
- Graham Nash – foot stomping on "If 6 Was 9", backing vocals on "You Got Me Floatin'"
- Trevor Burton – backing vocals on "You Got Me Floatin'"
- Roy Wood – backing vocals on "You Got Me Floatin'"
- Chas Chandler – producer, foot stomping on "If 6 Was 9"
- Eddie Kramer – chief engineer
- Engineers – George Chkiantz, Andy Johns and Terry Brown
- Recorded at: Olympic Studios, London, England
- Cover design – David King, Roger Law, painted heads based on a Karl Ferris group portrait (front)
- Photography – Donald Silverstein (UK inner portrait)
Charts and certifications
|UK Official Charts||5|
|US Billboard 200||3|
|US Top R&B Albums||6|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Notes and references
- Also recorded on May 4 was "Taking Care of No Business", a track Hendrix had written in 1965 while playing with Curtis Knight. The recording featured overdubbed background noises and vocal chatter that mimicked the sounds of a busy tavern. On May 5, Kramer prepared a reduction mix and Mitchell added a tambourine part.
- On May 5, after working on "If Six was Nine", the group shifted its focus to "Mr. Bad Luck", a medium-tempo blues song Hendrix had written during his time with Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. They quickly achieved a working master to which they added overdubs, including Hendrix's lead vocals, and although they thought the track showed promise it was not included on Axis: Bold as Love.
- Following their successful West Coast introduction, which included a free open-air concert at Golden Gate Park and a concert at the Whisky a Go Go, the Experience were booked as the opening act for the first American tour of the Monkees.
- As with their previous album, the band had to schedule recording sessions in between performances.
- Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 87. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
- McDermott 2009, pp. 45–48.
- McDermott 2009, p. 48.
- McDermott 2009, pp. 48–49.
- McDermott 2009, p. 49.
- McDermott 2009, p. 49; Shadwick 2003, p. 112: a medium-tempo blues song.
- Shadwick 2003, p. 112.
- Roby 2002, pp. 77–79.
- McDermott 2009, p. 50.
- McDermott 2009, pp. 50–52.
- McDermott 2009, p. 52.
- Shadwick 2003, p. 116.
- McDermott 2009, pp. 54–56.
- McDermott 2009, p. 54.
- McDermott 2009, pp. 54–55.
- Shadwick 2003, p. 130.
- Heatley 2009, p. 86; McDermott 2009, p. 76.
- Whitehill 1989, p. 52.
- Hendrix & McDermott 2007, p. 29.
- Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 218.
- McDermott 1992, p. 60.
- Mitchell & Platt 1990, p. 76: (primary source); Shadwick 2003, p. 127: (secondary source).
- Larkin 1998, p. 112.
- Murray 1989, p. 218.
- Whitehill 1989, p. 6.
- McDermott 2009, p. 76.
- Moskowitz 2010, p. 28.
- Stubbs 2003, p. 48.
- Wenner 2010, p. 120.
- Moskowitz 2010, p. 33.
- Heatley 2009, p. 87; McDermott 2009, pp. 74–75.
- Mitchell & Platt 1990, p. 76.
- Guitar World 2011, p. 76.
- Shadwick 2003, p. 125.
- Aledort 1996, pp. 68–76; 71: "one of the greatest electric guitar solos ever".
- Aledort 1996, pp. 68–76; Whitehill 1989, p. 124.
- Unterberger 2009, pp. 146–147.
- Cross 2005, p. 205.
- Heatley 2009, p. 87.
- Black 1999, p. 121.
- Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 231.
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- McDermott 2009, p. 79: UK release date for Axis: Bold As Love; Roberts 2005, p. 232: peak UK chart position for Axis: Bold As Love.
- Heatley 2009, p. 99.
- Roby 2002, p. 77.
- Miller, Jim (April 6, 1968). "Axis: Bold As Love album review". Retrieved March 16, 2014.: (primary source); Roby 2002, p. 77: (secondary source).
- Doggett 2004, p. 15.
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