CD Review Jimi Hendrix ‘People, Hell and Angels’: Cross-Decades Traffic

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Four decades after his death — and after so many rare, unreleased, previously unissued, bootleg, live and otherwise unearthed tracks — it’s hard to imagine there being a “new” Jimi Hendrix album, though that’s how this is billed.

Of course, whether tracks are “previously unreleased” formally or previously unreleased at all may be two different things. But the bottom line is that People, Hell and Angels, new Tuesday, March 5 from Legacy and Experience Hendrix, is an excellent overview of the guitar great’s work after disbanding the Jimi Hendrix Experience and setting forth with aims of creating a new double album on his own called First Rays of the New Rising Sun.

This isn’t that album, but shows some of what might have been. As to how new this material is, let’s take a look:

First, the 12 tracks may be previously unreleased on a formal label, but the songs largely are not. Rather, these tend to be different versions of songs already issued.

Take Hear My Train A Comin’, a budding Band of Gypsies track which has been widely distributed in the past, or Bleeding Heart, from the same sessions and with a different beat — and a song which Experience Hendrix itself already hads issued on the Valleys of Neptune album in 2010.

One title that’s certainly new is Let Me Move You, a track featuring sax player Lonnie Youngblood. The two swap licks in a frantic rock and soul fusillade of sound.

Inside Out appears to be an early rendition of Ezy Ryder, already out. But Hendrix was experimenting with rhythm patterns here, while playing all bass and guitar parts, with the Experience’s Mitch Mitchell providing drums.

Overall, the source and the nuances aren’t as important as hearing freshly-minted sounds from an artist who’s long gone but whose legacy is so strong that these things truly matter.

If you love Hendrix, you should love this collection — even if you’re fairly familiar with much of it. The album’s handsome packaging is worth something in itself, and anything remotely new from the greatest of guitar gods is worth having, in my book.

— Bruce Westbrook

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