Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist of all time and current Rolling Stone cover star, and now RS can reveal that his legendary albums are coming exclusively to Rock Band with a wave of downloadable content thanks to Harmonix, MTV Games and Experience Hendrix. The guitarist's entire second LP Axis: Bold as Love will be unleashed as DLC starting March 30th, along with the unearthed Jimi single "Valleys of Neptune" from the new disc of the same name.
"Much like Jimi's music, we feel that Rock Band represents an amazing, innovative medium for music discovery and interaction that can have a profound affect on those who experience it," says Janie Hendrix, the CEO of Experience Hendrix. "We are extremely pleased to be able to have Jimi Hendrix's genius musical legacy continue to live on and touch people the world over through Rock Band." The makers of Rock Band jumped at the opportunity to become the exclusive music video game destination for Jimi. "Hendrix's music is something that our fans and supporters have been clamoring for on the Rock Band platform," MTV Games' Paul DeGooyer tells Rolling Stone.
Rock Band will dole out Hendrix's music in connection with Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings' own CD/DVD remasters of Hendrix's three studio album and the posthumous release First Rays of the Rising Sun. "The remasterings of the catalog are really incredible and you can hear stuff for the first time in those recordings and we're kind of the beneficiary of that," DeGooyer says, adding that the Rock Band tracks will also boast "improved sonics."
As for why the franchise opted to unleash the Jimi Hendrix Experience's second album Axis: Bold As Love to gamers before Are You Experienced? and Electric Ladyland, DeGooyer explains, "A lot of people are familiar with the singles [on Axis], but the concept of the album has kind of evaporated from the minds of certain demography over the past decade or so, and so people are cherry-picking songs. Axis may benefit from getting this highlighting and taken together. And it's tremendously fun to play as well."
Rock Band has also worked out an agreement with Experience Hendrix for the possible inclusion of a Hendrix avatar, replica instruments — imagine a miniaturized version of Jimi's famed white Strat — and perhaps even a Rock Band: Jimi Hendrix game styled after The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day's upcoming title. But right now Harmonix and MTV Games are just concentrating on releasing the music as downloadable content before moving forward with additional plans.
While songs like "Little Wing" are so complex, it almost seems like Rock Band should create a "Hendrix" mode harder than "Expert," DeGooyer promises even the most ardent gamers will be challenged. "It's a whole new level of difficulty unto itself. The thing about these tracks is if you're a Hendrix fan you know that really what powered that vibe is that he kind of just closed his eyes and flowed from his fingers, and we really tried very hard, especially on the expert level, to recreate that effect," DeGooyer says, "So while it's difficult to play we hear from Rock Band players and once they practice a little bit and get into the groove, they can kind of just let it flow, so we're hoping they get the same effect. But it won't be easy very often from the get-go." For an immeasurable challenge, adventurous gamers can emulate Hendrix by playing their guitars upside-down.
Axis: Bold As Love hits XBox 360 and Nintendo Wii on March 30th, with the PlayStation 3 release following on April 1st. The songs — only the musique concrete opener "EXP" is excised from the track list — will be available both as an album and standalone tracks. Check out the first slate of Hendrix tracks coming to Rock Band (and LEGO Rock Band, with the exception of "Up From the Skies" and "Valleys of Neptune"):
"Up From the Skies"
"Spanish Castle Magic"
"Wait Until Tomorrow"
"Ain't No Telling"
"If 6 Was 9"
"You Got Me Floatin'"
"Castles Made of Sand"
"She's So Fine"
"One Rainy Wish"
"Little Miss Lover"
"Bold As Love"
"Valleys of Neptune"