Release Date: Mar 9, 2018
Record label: Legacy
The final part of the trilogy that also includes 2010's Valleys Of Neptune and 2013's People, Hell And Angels, Both Sides Of The Sky might not initially send diehards into paroxysms, owing to over-familiar titles and a sleeve that airbrushes Jimi into biopic manifestation Andre Benjamin. But while Experience Hendrix insist that 10 of the 13 tracks are previously unreleased, producer Eddie Kramer's modern technology-assisted brush-up ensures that songs long familiar on bootleg or posthumous albums have never sounded so good. The much-trumpeted diamonds in the archaeological haul feature Hendrix playing with close friend Stephen Stills.
Wait! Don't stop reading, don't turn the page - we come neither to reappraise Hendrix, nor to bury him (again). Yes, the full catalogue of recordings made by one of rock's true innovators, a maverick, a (whisper it) genius is awash with dubious entries; material that, had he lived, the man himself wouldn't have wanted anywhere near a commercial point of sale, but Both Sides Of The Sky is genuinely a quality product. Listening to the opening cover of Muddy Waters' Mannish Boy prompts a nagging question: why has it taken almost 49 years for this exemplary, supercharged, vital recording to be made available? It certainly doesn't sound like a below-par outtake, the kind of meandering, swiftly shelved performance that has blighted so many posthumous Hendrix releases.
Jimi played guitar, jamming good with Billy and Buddy and the Experience – no, wait, that was Ziggy. But Hendrix was almost certainly a model for Bowie's space crawler, an electric deity who sacrificed himself as he took it all too far. His music was haunted by death from the start – "Will I live tomorrow?" he asked on his first album – and he chased after it at a furious pace, recording more than 70 times in the year before his passing.