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Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Electric Ladyland’ Gets Massive Reissue for 50th Anniversary

Deluxe box set will feature, demos, outtakes, live recordings and a documentary

Jimi Hendrix

David Redfern/Redferns

Half a century ago, when Jimi Hendrix began work on what would become his the final album to come out in his lifetime, Electric Ladyland, he was finding inspiration everywhere. “Jimi was very much in the realm of experimentation,” says one of the album’s recording engineers, Eddie Kramer. Kramer is seated in the control room of Electric Lady Studios, the New York studio Hendrix opened shortly before his death in 1970. “When I first started working with him, [Hendrix manager] Chas Chandler told me, ‘The rules are, “There are no rules.’ We could just kick down the doors to convention and experiment with wild things and Jimi’s sound.”

The results of their experimentation are all over Electric Ladyland, from an otherworldly phasing sound effect (“We were all freaked out by it,” Kramer recalls) to the different combos of musicians he brought in to jam with, such as members of Traffic and the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones. A new, expanded box set release due out this fall will provide a 360-degree view of how it all came together. The Electric Ladyland deluxe edition will include the original album remastered, high-res audio, a 5.1 surround sound mix by Kramer, a disc of demos and outtakes and a live recording from about a month before its release along with a documentary about its creation.

Recording engineer Eddie Kramer.

The package, which comes out November 9th, will be available either as a three-CD and one Blu-ray set or a six-LP and one Blu-ray set. Famed engineer Bernie Grundman remastered the album from the original analog tapes and carried out an all-analog, direct-to-disc transfer for the vinyl edition. In addition to the documentary, titled At Last … the Beginning: The Making of Electric Ladyland, the Blu-rays contain the 5.1 surround sound mix and the original stereo mixes in 24-bit, 96 kHz sound. A pared-down version will be available on streaming services.

“The whole idea with the 5.1 mix was, ‘What would Jimi have done?'” Kramer explains. “I had this joystick, which was a 5.1 panning device, [and] I would listen to the original stereo mix and go, ‘OK, I did that in the stereo.’ Now in the 5.1, I’m going to zip it from left to right, center to back and zoom it all around.’ If Jimi had lived, he would have been so excited to hear that buzzing around his head. He would have said, ‘Yeah, man, do that. Move that sound around.'”

Although he worked hard to keep it true to the original mix he made with Hendrix, listeners will hear new things in the mix, according to the engineer. “There’s so much more clarity and so much more depth,” Kramer says. “You really can understand and hear a lot more detail of the underlying instruments, the rhythm guitars that Jimi put in, the subtle things that were going on with the background vocals, the percussion. It’s just in your face. You feel like you’re in the room with the band.”

The volume of outtakes, Electric Ladyland: The Early Takes, contains audio pulled from reel-to-reel tapes Hendrix recorded himself on his personal Teac machine in March 1968 while staying at Manhattan’s Drake Hotel. These include early versions of “Voodoo Chile” and “Gypsy Eyes” as well as two songs that didn’t make the Ladyland track list – “Angel” and “My Friend”– and an early version of “… And the Gods Made Love” titled “At Last … the Beginning.”  “He did these incredibly quietly,” Kramer says with a laugh. “You can hear the atmosphere of the hotel room. He’s almost whispering. Why? He doesn’t want to wake up the neighbors. He’d go, ‘Here’s “Electric Ladyland”‘ and he’d whisper, ‘Have you ever been? … ‘ It’s so warm and so intimate, and all of a sudden you hear a phone ringing and that’s the front desk calling and you can just hear in his voice he’s getting really pissed off. It’s great.”

The collection also features sessions Hendrix cut at New York’s Sound Center and Record Plant studios, including previously unreleased takes of “Angel Caterina” and “Little Miss Strange,” which feature Stephen Stills and Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys bandmate Buddy Miles, and a version of “Long Hot Summer,” which features Hendrix playing with drummer Mitch Mitchell and pianist Al Kooper. “We go from the raw demo, maybe a tape or two from the raw master and then maybe the master itself so you can get the arc of the whole song,” Kramer explains.

Eddie Kramer Breaks Down Electric Ladyland

The live disc, Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at the Hollywood Bowl 9/14/68, features a recently discovered two-track soundboard recording of a Los Angeles gig where the trio played music from all three of its albums as well as a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” “He was very concerned about the audience at that concert,” Kramer says of the tape. “In those days, there was a pond in front of the stage. And the crowd of course was going completely nuts and they started jumping into the pool to get closer to Jimi. And he would say, ‘No, no, no.’ He was scared. Anything water- and electricity-wise wouldn’t go down too well. He was saying to the kids, ‘Stay out of the pool, please.'” Kramer laughs. “You can imagine the chaos. It’s 1968 and it’s chaos at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s hilarious.”

Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix at the Hollywood Bowl on September 14, 1968.

He adds that the melee didn’t affect the performances at all. “Noooo,” he says dramatically. “It was raucous. Jimi was having a blast.”

The documentary traces the album’s genesis with interview footage of bassist Noel Redding, Mitchell, manager Chas Chadler, Miles, Winwood, Traffic’s Dave Mason and others. Kramer also explains the recording techniques Hendrix, Mitchell and Redding used while making it using the original multi-tracks.

The collection’s cover features Hendrix’s original planned cover – a photograph that Linda Eastman had taken of the band with children posing at the Alice in Wonderland statue in New York’s Central Park. The U.K. label had replaced it with an image that Hendrix hated, one of a group of naked women, while the U.S. label opted for a red and orange live shot. The accompanying 48-page book includes essays by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke and producer John McDermott along with photos Kramer took during the recording of the album, Hendrix’s handwritten lyrics and notes to his record label and memos from the label, Warner Bros.

 

Electric Ladyland Deluxe Edition Track List

Disc One: The original album

Disc Two: Electric Ladyland: The Early Takes

1. “1983 … (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”
2. “Voodoo Chile”
3. “Cherokee Mist”
4. “Hear My Train a Comin'”
5. “Angel”
6. “Gypsy Eyes”
7. “Somewhere”
8. “Long Hot Summer Night” (Demo 1)
9. “Long Hot Summer Night” (Demo 3)
10. “Long Hot Summer Night” (Demo 4)
11. “Snowballs at My Window”
12. “My Friend”
13. “At Last … the Beginning”
13. “Angel Caterina (1983)”
15. “Little Miss Strange”
16. “Long Hot Summer Night” (Take 1)
17. “Long Hot Summer Night” (Take 14)
18. “Rainy Day, Dream Away”
19. “Rainy Day Shuffle”
20. “1983 … (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”

Disc Three: Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At The Hollywood Bowl 9/14/68

1. Introduction
2. “Are You Experienced”
3. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
4. “Red House”
5. “Foxey Lady”
6. “Fire”
7. “Hey Joe”
8. “Sunshine of Your Love”
9. “I Won’t Live Today”
10. “Little Wing”
11. “Star Spangled Banner”
12. “Purple Haze”

In This Article: Jimi Hendrix

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