The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced

ON THIS DATE (45 YEARS AGO)
May 12, 1967 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced is released in the UK
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# allmusic 5/5
Are You Experienced is the debut album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released on this date in May 1967 in the UK.  It was the first LP for Track Records.
Are You Experienced has remained a critical and commercial success since its release. The album reached #2 in the UK, behind The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The US version of the album contains some of Hendrix’s best known songs, including “Purple Haze”, “Hey Joe”, “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Fire”. In 1987, as part of their 20th anniversary, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #5 on “The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years.” In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #15 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was an instant success and was a best-selling album in the United States in 1968, and critics subsequently regarded it as one of the best rock albums of all time.
In 2005 Are You Experienced was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the United States.
The album highlighted Jimi Hendrix’s R&B-based, psychedelic, distortion-and feedback-laden electric guitar playing and launched him as a major new international star.
Hendrix, along with producer and former bass player for The Animals, Chas Chandler, formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience in England in 1966 with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass. The band signed with Track Records, a new label formed by The Who’s managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. They recorded three singles produced by Chas Chandler while simultaneously touring throughout England: “Hey Joe”/”Stone Free”, which was released in December 1966 through Polydor Records because Track Records was not yet operational; “Purple Haze”/”51st Anniversary”, released in March 1967 and was the first release by Track Records on a special white label; and “The Wind Cries Mary”/”Highway Chile” which was released in May 1967 and is said to be written by Hendrix for his long time love, Kathy Etchingham (whose middle name is Mary), after he was left alone at home when she stormed out after a fight. All three of these singles reached the top ten in the UK. The Experience’s first single, “Hey Joe”, reached #6 on the UK chart in early 1967, followed soon after by “Purple Haze”, which peaked at #3 on the charts and its double platinum debut album, Are You Experienced. During the making of these singles, the Jimi Hendrix Experience also cut the tracks that became their debut album, which Chandler produced, again, mostly with engineer Dave Siddle at De Lane Lea Studios, he also used Mike Ross at CBS for several tracks. Some tracks were finished at Olympic Sudios with legendary engineer Eddie Kramer, as was the final compilation, mixing and editing of the LP.

EUROPEAN v. US RELEASE
Are You Experienced was released in the UK in May 1967 without the three singles, as was the custom in the UK at that time. At the time of release, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had played a few dates in North West Europe and appeared on TV there. During the winter of 1966–67, they played mostly in and around London. They embarked on their first tour of the UK (as support to the Walker Brothers) shortly before its release and played more gigs in North West Europe including several TV shows. This appears to have paid off, the album became one of the defining releases of the psychedelic movement, reaching #2 in the UK and remaining on the British charts for eight months behind the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Although word of the Hendrix phenomenon spread to the US, he was not seen in America (and no records were released) until the summer of 1967, when, at Paul McCartney’s insistence, the Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, held in Monterey California on June 18, 1967. The performance, which Hendrix climaxed by burning his guitar, was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker for the documentary Monterey Pop. It was only after this show-stealing performance that his American and Canadian label, Reprise Records, prepared the album for release, but with some significant changes. The cover and the art on the album changed. The UK cover, which featured a picture of the band on a black background, was abandoned, and a more psychedelic design was devised by photographer designer Karl Ferris (whose group portraits appeared on all three of the band’s US album covers).
Secondly, and more crucially, “Red House”, “Can You See Me” and “Remember” were all removed in order to make way for the three UK hit singles: “Purple Haze”, “Hey Joe” and “The Wind Cries Mary”, with the running order being shuffled in the process. This time the running order was selected by Hendrix himself, but “Red House” was excluded from the album against his wishes. He was told that the US did “not like the blues”. The spelling of the song “Foxy Lady” was also changed to “Foxey Lady” on the US and Canadian releases. This selection of tracks was also remixed into stereo. In August, the US version of Are You Experienced saw issue in both the original mono mix and the new stereo mix and became a strong and enduring seller. When the album was finally released in August 1967, three months after its European release, the new lineup-proved hugely influential with the album peaking at #5 and remaining on Billboard’s album chart for two years.
REVIEW
by Richie Unterberger, allmusic
One of the most stunning debuts in rock history, and one of the definitive albums of the psychedelic era. On Are You Experienced?, Jimi Hendrix synthesized various elements of the cutting edge of 1967 rock into music that sounded both futuristic and rooted in the best traditions of rock, blues, pop, and soul. It was his mind-boggling guitar work, of course, that got most of the ink, building upon the experiments of British innovators like Jeff Beck and Pete Townshend to chart new sonic territories in feedback, distortion, and sheer volume. It wouldn’t have meant much, however, without his excellent material, whether psychedelic frenzy (“Foxey Lady,” “Manic Depression,” “Purple Haze”), instrumental freak-out jams (“Third Stone From the Sun”), blues (“Red House,” “Hey Joe”), or tender, poetic compositions (“The Wind Cries Mary”) that demonstrated the breadth of his songwriting talents. Not to be underestimated were the contributions of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, who gave the music a rhythmic pulse that fused parts of rock and improvised jazz. Many of these songs are among Hendrix’s very finest; it may be true that he would continue to develop at a rapid pace throughout the rest of his brief career, but he would never surpass his first LP in terms of consistently high quality. The British and American versions of the album differed substantially when they were initially released in 1967; MCA’s 17-song CD reissue does everyone a favor by gathering all of the material from the two records in one place, adding a few B-sides from early singles, as well.
TRACKS:
All songs written and composed by Jimi Hendrix, except “Hey Joe” by Billy Roberts.
ORIGINAL UK ALBUM
Side one
“Foxy Lady” – 3:22
“Manic Depression” – 3:46
“Red House” – 3:53
“Can You See Me” – 2:35
“Love or Confusion” – 3:17
“I Don’t Live Today” – 3:58
Side two
“May This Be Love” – 3:14
“Fire” – 2:47
“3rd Stone from the Sun” – 6:50
“Remember” – 2:53
“Are You Experienced?” – 4:17
ORIGINAL US ALBUM
Side one
“Purple Haze” – 2:46
“Manic Depression” – 3:46
“Hey Joe” – 3:23
“Love or Confusion” – 3:15
“May This Be Love” – 3:14
“I Don’t Live Today” – 3:55
Side two
“The Wind Cries Mary” – 3:21
“Fire” – 2:34
“Third Stone from the Sun” – 6:40
“Foxey Lady” – 3:15
“Are You Experienced?” – 3:55
1997 Experience Hendrix reissue ALBUM
“Hey Joe” – 3:30
“Stone Free” – 3:36
“Purple Haze” – 2:51
“51st Anniversary” – 3:15
“The Wind Cries Mary” – 3:20
“Highway Chile” – 3:32
1997 Experience Hendrix reissue CD
“Stone Free” – 3:35
“51st Anniversary” – 3:15
“Highway Chile” – 3:32
“Can You See Me” – 2:32
“Remember” – 2:48
“Red House” (Stereo mix) – 3:51
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