“I wanna know about the new mother earth/I wanna hear and see everything,” announced Jimi Hendrix on “Up From the Skies,” the mission statement of Axis: Bold As Love, his second album with his band the Experience. Hendrix’s delicate touch on the wah-wah pedal (a recent invention in 1968) glides and teases airily, drawing the ear into an album that wanted to take you higher, past gravity or limits of any kind. The late bassist Noel Redding kept the album on some sort of earthly axis, while drummer Mitch Mitchell was no less a renegade than Hendrix when it came to expressionistic frenzy; you can hear the two collide, commune and converse on such tracks as “Spanish Castle Magic.”
Generally overlooked on Axis were taut, funky, could’ve-been-hits such as “Ain’t No Telling,” “Wait Until Tomorrow” and “Little Miss Lover.” Axis’ reputation was forged on its more mystical numbers: the achingly lyrical “Little Wing,” the straight-world kiss-off “If 6 Was 9.” Lyrically, Hendrix tosses out dreamy references to gold ships, golden gardens, rainbows and dragonflies — in words and sound, he argues that the universe is a wondrous place full of magic to those willing to open their consciousness. Dig.
This story is from the June 12th, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone.