If you’re not experienced with the music of Jimi Hendrix, his latest posthumous release may not be the best place to start, but those familiar with his catalog may find something on it worthwhile.
The most recent collection of archived studio recordings to be released from the vaults by the Hendrix estate, “Both Sides of the Sky,” became available earlier this month.
“Both Sides of the Sky” is the third in a series of compilations made up of previously-unreleased studio recordings that Hendrix had been working on for his follow-up to “Electric Ladyland,” his third studio album, in the late ‘60s.
The album was never completed, however, as Hendrix passed away in late 1970 and the recordings were stored away for decades.
Early on, Hendrix fans will recognize yet another version of “Hear My Train A Comin’,” a song featured on many previously-released live recordings and of which many studio demos exist.
While this version doesn’t offer anything particularly unique compared to those already out there, it’s a classic Hendrix tune that fans will still get a kick out of, even if they have heard it dozens of times before.
The album also features a few standard 12-bar blues songs, like “The Things I Used To Do” and “Georgia Blues,” the latter of which features Linnie Youngblood on saxophone and vocals and fellow bluesman Johnny Winter accompanying Hendrix on guitar, making it a standout among the rest of the tracks.
The blues tracks are so well done that they make you wonder what it may have been like if Hendrix had released a full-on blues album on the heels of helping unleash psychedelic rock upon the world. He certainly had the chops to do so.
Around the midway point comes another highlight of the compilation — an extended version of “Power of Soul,” which is another track that had previously been released on live Hendrix recordings, but not as nearly as often as “Hear My Train A Comin’.”
Most of the song’s nearly six-minute runtime consists of Hendrix playing around with his wah pedal and improvising on guitar, occasionally coming back to the lyrics, “With the power of soul, anything is possible.”
Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young provides vocals and organ on “$20 Fine” and a cover of the Joni Mitchell song “Woodstock.”
Hendrix and Stills met at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, at which Hendrix famously doused his Stratocaster in lighter fluid and set ablaze at the end of his set, adding to his near-mythical legacy.
While Hendrix and Stills’ take on “Woodstock” comes off as a bit strange and genre-clashing, their different styles mesh well on “$20 Fine,” which features that classic fuzz guitar tone that Hendrix is so recognizable for.
It doesn’t feature a blistering guitar solo from Hendrix, but his electric-guitar fills complement Stills’ riffs on the organ nicely.
Overall, “Both Sides of the Sky” is a nice collection of recordings, even if it didn’t necessarily need to be released.
It may not have sold well before streaming services completely took over the music industry, but now that fans don’t have to trek to their local record store to get a copy of the entire compilation, they may be more willing to visit it on Spotify or Apple Music to give a listen to some of its previously unreleased material.