Spin #2 : The Jimi Hendrix Experience : Axis: Bold As Love
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Band Members on record : Jimi Hendrix (Guitar / Vocals), Noel Redding (Bass) and Mitch Mitchell (Drums)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience : Axis : Bold As Love
Year Released : 1967 (record is the 2010 pressing)
Produced by Chas Chandler.
Price Range: $35 - 50AUD
Speed: 33 1/3RPM
Album Before : Are You Experienced? (1967)
Album After : Electric Ladyland (1968)
Further Listening: Machine Gun: The Fillmore East first show(1969)
LP : 1 x 180 gm , Black - Legacy
Mood for enjoying: I found this album works on a summer evening with a cold drink in your hand, kicking back. Some of the songs make you want to get up and play air guitar around whilst others let you enjoy the rhythmic journey the band takes you on. Up tempo album that will leave you in a good mood.
Track Listing: LP:
Side A EXP - 1:55
Up From The Skies - 2:58
Spanish Castle Magic - 3:03
Wait Until Tomorrow - 3:02
Aint No Telling - 1:48
Little Wing - 2:25
If 6 Was 9 - 5:34
You Got Me Floatin' - 2:48
Castle Made of Sand - 2:48
She's So Fine - 2:39
One Rainy Wish - 3:42
Little Miss Lover - 2:22
Bold As Love - 4:11
What's in the Sleeve ? The gatefold design with the cover lengthways is similar to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and Michael Jackson's Off the Wall. It shows Hendrix, Redding and Mitchell surrounded by Cobras and ancient Indian gods. Without looking into the cover, I'm not sure what their cover direction was at the time but definitely something to research. The Lyrics are printed on the inside and separated as Side 1 on the left and Side 2 on the right. The sleeve feels sturdy and inside there is an 8 page glossy liner notes book. It briefly talks about the album and adds a few photos from their performances. 180 gm LP with songs listed on the label. Can't fault the quality for price just by looking at sleeve.
"The Sun From the Clouds Seeps into Her Eyes, The Rain from the Trees Soaks into Her Mind" ~ She's So Fine - Side B
Welcome to Spin #2 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis : Bold As Love I chose this record as the second Spin because it was the lesser known 'The Experience' album and also their second go around. As this is our second edition I think that it's fitting.
For the review I used the set up in our loungeroom as it provided a better range of sound (4 bookshelf speakers spaced across the main wall, approximately 3.5metres in length). The set up consists of a Sherwood Turntable (PM-9805) and Sherwood Receiver (RX-4508) complete with 4 x Sherwood Bookshelf speakers.
Drop the Needle (of course means place the stylus nicely on your wax):
I bet that if you were asked to name the three studio albums of 'The Experience' that you could probably name one or two. Those would be 'Are you Experienced?' and 'Electric Ladyland'. I would then go further and ask you to name some of their better known songs and you would probably mention 'Foxy Lady' , 'Hey Joe' or 'All Along the Watchtower'. That's ok. Before delving into the catalogue I was in the same position because I didn't bother to take a look at their second effort, Axis : Bold as Love.
I get it, a lot of people would assume because it doesn't have those big hits that it would be easy to forget. Those people would be wrong as it's an extremely well put together album with a lot of thought and obvious focus put in by all involved. In this instance I am happy to be wrong.
Ok so the record starts in a very unconventional way for 1967. The first song is more of an intro and experimentation in order to get you sucked into the 'Experience'.
'EXP' is a conversation recorded at different speeds and pitch between drummer Mitchell and Hendrix as Mr Carusoe, who is an expert in UFO and Alien phenomenon. They talk about aliens and all the while there is a wave pulsing through the speakers from right to left on my setup. Whilst listening to this our 3 year old son was looking and pointing as the guitar and distorted sounds pulsed through the room. He loved it and kept running around the room and laughing. Probably not for everyone but its a clear beginning of the record that leads into the similarly themed song, 'Up From the Skies'.
It starts with Hendrix or the persona clearly asking the listener about the current state of the world from an alien point of view. The song is boppy and has the drums and bass clearly working well together in tandem. Seems like one of those fun songs to groove along to and the stereo mix allows Hendrix to move through the far right and far left speakers over the top of the instruments. He tells us that ' I want to see and hear everything' before fading out of this softer song. What hits next is the grimier sound of 'Spanish Castle Magic'.
I am a bit of a sucker for the drums and as long as its crisp, well put together and there is passion behind each hit - it will draw me in. This song does just that with Mitchell's efforts a clear stand out for me. The execution of his timing paired with the Bass of Redding allows Hendrix the freedom to play his way. His vocals sound almost raw in moments especially when he sings his request to 'Hang on my Darling!'. Even though this was recorded to wax in 1967, I feel like Hendrix, Redding and Mitchell are in our living room. Definite contrast between song two and song three which so far has a good flow.
At moments you do forget that Hendrix is singing and also playing guitar with the effortlessness sound coming through. I had to remind myself that even though he is intricately playing, he is also most likely singing with his eyes shut in a dark room. The guitar is more of an appendage then an instrument. As a lover of music, this alone should get you excited for this record.
Another contrast again flows into song four, 'Wait Until Tomorrow'. Starts with a Redding and Hendrix hook that is very easy on the ears. At this moment our daughter was crying from her room and initially we thought the music woke her up. It wasn't very loud but being 7 months old and with pristine hearing, she came out and got buckled into her seat. I looked over and saw a huge smile on her face (and her two new bottom teeth). She just wanted to hear 'The Experience' from the comfort of her rocker chair. That's our girl. Back to the song and it's a very up tempo song with the band clearly having a good time recording this one.
I know that everyone thinks of Hendrix when you mention 'The Experience', but its more than that. I think these three musicians were all at the right place and right time when they became a band. They allowed Hendrix to blossom because they were such strong musicians in their own right. They might not have had the same success if the management had of focussed entirely on Hendrix and paired him up with lesser bandmates.
'Aint No Telling' is faster than the rest so far and makes me feel like we all should be sitting at a club with live music, whiskey or G&T in hand. It hits hard and was difficult to stay on the lounge. Our son had no problems, grooving around the room - he is becoming a little snake hips junior. Just when you think you already have a favourite song in mind, another one comes along with a different pace or hook. You question your decisions but It's a good problem to have.
Then the soft and slow ballad song on the album flows on next in the form of 'Little Wing'. This is the one you close your eyes and reminisce about life. It doesn't last long but its because you will enjoy it so much. Symbols are used throughout and are really clear through the four bookshelf speakers. From memory this is a song that became a regular in their live shows as a good change of pace. They had so many high tempo songs it makes sense that this became a hit to offer that rest during a live set.
If you wanted gritty, then the last song on Side A, ' If 6 was 9' will be your jam. If you want a song that takes you on a trip and talking about nonsense than you're exactly where you need to be. It has spoken word by Hendrix, a good pacing and catchy hooks. You think its all done before Hendrix comes back with 'I'm Gonna Wave My Freak Flag High'. The song then falls into a mix of a floating feeling trip and cacophony of sounds. Right and Left speaker are thought out so well with Drums and Bass battling each other across the wall of sound.
Hendrix then laughs and says "Fall mountains, just don't fall on me". This would be the next most experimental song due to the ending and length of track. It's a showcase of talent and production here. I heard long ago that Side A recordings were once misplaced by Hendrix and they had to find old demos and re-record everything that you've just listened to. Luckily they were able to and produce this solid effort. Time to flip over to SIde B.
Instantly into the action on Side B with the song ''You Got Me Floatin'. Hendrix is commanding your interest with backing vocals by Mitchell and Redding. I liked the production of this song through the set up and first song to have moments of the Indian inspired instruments (or at least moments where I thought that). Due to the four speakers picking up everything, it's the main reason why I didn't choose to review Axis : Bold As Love on the Woburn II Marshall speaker outside. It just wouldn't get the same sound or ambiance.
'The Experience' pair the songs across this album very well and a lot of effort and care has been taken by the band and management. 'Castles Made of Sand' is the second song on Side B and could have been a Bob Dylan spoken word folk song. It just has that same vibe and lyrical structure in which I could see Dylan covering. Another mid-tempo track with a different way to record the guitar, almost making it sound recorded in reverse and added onto the master recording.
The track that wasn't sung by Hendrix was 'She's So Fine', which is sung by Redding and Mitchell. It gives Hendrix a rare chance to just do the thing he loves most and that is to play his "Machine Gun". I liked the lyrics on this one and included it above on the lyric excerpt. If you walked into the room right now and only heard this song, you might think its a song by some other 60's band fronted by an English singer. Until you focus on the guitar work and you should be able to pick up who it is. Whether Hendrix is singing or not, there is a clear distinction to his sound.
'One Rainy Wish' returns with drum tempo on the high hats getting faster and faster and Hendrix getting back behind the mic. This one clearly showcases Mitchell's jazz drumming background and the softer singing here by Hendrix fits perfectly for this mid-tempo song. They all feed off each other and its within this song that I picture them in a circle standing on rugs, looking at each other putting their personalities into their instruments and not letting each other down.
The next song might just be my new favourite in the form of "Little Miss Lover'. The Groooooooove from the start makes you bop your head and put out the lips in the 'oh yeah' kind of way. "Excuse me while I see if the Gypsy in me is right, If you don't mind". Clearly Lenny Kravitz has borrowed some inspiration from this song on the record. For me, stand out groove song similar to 'Foxy Lady'. I could very well dance around like Mick Jagger with one arm behind my back to this one, yes that's right, I said it. Listen to this song and you might feel the same way.
This all leads to the bookend track and conclusion of 'The Experiences' second effort. There isn't really a weak moment on this album once it starts. Ok, so the intro to listen to isn't for everyone but I respect that they are trying something new. The last song, 'Bold As Love' has the sexy Hendrix style guitar sound that easily could have everyone throwing their arms and a lighter into the air at Woodstock. Its a clear end and it has an opposite feeling to the chaotic beginning of the record. This very well could be the favourite of my wife, just has that good feel sound to it.
The slow fading out after showcasing their talents playing into the nothingness brings us to the dead space of the record. For me I have to get up and lift the tonearm manually from the record. I hope that you get a chance to experience this album and give it the respect it demands. Regarded as the weakest of their output but it is in no way a weak album. It wouldn't be long before they would put out their third album, 'Electric Ladyland' - only less than 12 months later!
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