Jul 142011

OK, I’m the wiseguy who put Jimi Hendrix‘s Axis: Bold as Love in the current “best post-peak album” poll. Although there are some keepers on his subsequent albums and although his playing did not diminish, I actually do feel that Hendrix peaked on Are You Experienced? His next 2 albums with the Experience would have benefitted from a visit by The Cutter (ie, editing). Once Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding split all bets are off. I’m a huge fan of “Dolly Dagger,” for instance, but my enjoyment of the song rests solely on the joy of that main chord riff that runs under the verses.

As with “Dolly Dagger,” there’s enough great guitar work on Axis and Electric Ladyland that I can get over the fact that a lot of the songs blow, but as my close personal friend E. Pluribus Gergely and I were discussing over plates of “shit on a shingle” at a famed Roxborough diner this morning, Axis, in particular, would have benefitted from a serious reduction.

EPG suggests it should have been edited down to a single of “Little Wing” b/w “If 6 Was 9.” I suggest an EP, including those 2 songs along with “Castles Made of Sand” and “Wait Until Tomorrow.” I’m a sucker for any Hendrix song that’s in the “Wind Cries Mary” vein (ie, the former) and any Hendrix song that sounds like it could have been done by Otis Redding (ie, the latter, “Remember,” “Crosstown Traffic”). You may be able to twist my arm into including “Up From the Skies” for a 5-song EP, especially since I had to study it a few months ago to prepare for arrangement ideas on one of my bandmate’s new songs. I can do without all the sub-par “Purple Haze” workouts.

So what do you think, single or EP?


  54 Responses to “Should Axis: Bold as Love Have Been Reduced to a Single or an EP?”

  1. saturnismine

    You really don’t want me to get any research done in Darmstadt, do you?

    Honestly, I remember being disappointed with it when I first bought it (I was 18). But then I couldn’t get it off the turntable.

    All I can say is that every song you haven’t named in the post above is near and dear to me. That’s all I can say.

  2. Shoulda been a single. Side one: “EXP”; Side two: “She’s So Fine”

  3. alexmagic

    Noel was the best one in The Experience.

  4. pudman13

    You named my five favorite songs from the album. I had no idea it would be so easy…but maybe you’re right about the 5-song EP.

  5. Axis is fine the way it is. Electric Ladyland could have used a trim, but cutting it to a single album would have left off too much. There was some really good post-Experience stuff too as evidenced in First Rays of the New Rising Sun. And to think I get shit here for disliking Dylan. Sheesh.

  6. Clearheaded thinking is in vogue at Rock Town Hall!

  7. mockcarr

    The Clash peaked before London Calling. That should have been an EP.

    There’s some more hits for you.

  8. I prefer Axis to Are You Experienced?, mostly because I have AYE overload.

    Axis is only 40 min long and the songs are pretty short. Bold As Love may be Jimi’s best song of his short career.

    I prefer some of the throw-away pop songs to another 12 minute stoned jam

    My band The Luxury Kings (in addition to our attempt at the Hendrix/SRV tribute band the RTH named Electric Stevieland) recorded a 3-song Hendrix cover EP and ended up having all three songs come from AXIS (Spanish Castle Magic, Wait Until Tomorrow and Bold As Love)

  9. I need to go back and listen to “Bold as Love” – now that I think of it, I can’t place a tune with that song title.

  10. misterioso

    I would go a step further still: let’s face it, no one wants to listen to a whole record, even a really good one. Who has the time or the attention span? Just a few samples will do. It can all be wrapped up in under 5 minutes.

  11. Spanish Castle Magic is a stone cold groove. You’re out of your mind.

  12. Had you named yourselves the Fauxy Laddies or the Third Son From the Stoned as I suggested, you guys would be household names by now.

  13. I couldn’t make it all the way through this post. Could you just net it out for me?

  14. BigSteve

    I’m as mystified by those who want to trim Axis as I am by those who think it’s his best album.

  15. I only listen to 5-second excerpts on Amazon.com nowadays. I implore Mr. Mod and Gergley to follow my lead.

  16. alexmagic

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience Experience

  17. misterioso

    Yes, I had to read Mod’s post thrice because I assumed SPM had to be in there. It’s a killer.

  18. Special tuning points at around 1:52, at which Jimi succesfully tunes his G string while executing some heavy vibrato.

  19. misterioso

    SPM? SCM. “Spanish Castle Magic.” Sorry.

  20. saturnismine

    Leave it to the mod to write a post arguing that an album should be trimmed to a single or EP without even being able to remember the album’s title track.

    Nice work, mod.

    Hey…what’s the skinny on the new ownership group that has an agreement in place to buy the basketball team. Sixers fans in Darmstadt are very anxious.

  21. bostonhistorian

    Is it coincidence that today’s PopMarket deal is five Hendrix albums on vinyl? http://www.popmarket.com/details/25881970 Is Rock Town Hall being read by record company executives? I don’t think they’re reading, because I don’t see the words German true stereo associated with this release….

  22. bostonhistorian

    Reminds me of the band that morphed into The Godfathers, The Sid Presley Experience.

  23. tonyola

    The Beatles peaked in Hamburg – before they even made any records. Or so John Lennon has said.

  24. This isn’t addressing the main topic, but I’ve gotta say that I’ve always found the stereo mixes on Hendrix studio albums to be really annoying, with the possible exception of listening to them while EXTREMELY high. That may have been the selling point of all that fiddly panning at the time these were released, but it hasn’t aged well. I’ve got things to do – I can’t be on a 24/7 acid trip! All that studio wankery just takes me out of the song. For me, mono is the way to go for those first few Jimi albums. Just a personal gripe, but has anyone else noticed this – that you end up paying more attention to the “trippy” production tricks than to the actual music on the stereo versions of these Hendrix recordings?

  25. tonyola

    It’s an interesting point, but by no means limited to Hendrix. Quite a few 1960s stereo and re-processed “stereo” albums were full of delays, panning gimmickry, echoes, and stuff like that. Think of the stereo Beatles albums that had instruments and vocals hard-panned all the way to the left or right with nothing in the middle. No wonder people cheered when the remastered-mono Beatles albums were released a little while back.

  26. saturnismine

    Hi Bobby…

    In general, I never have a problem with stereo mixes.

    But I think there are two types: utilitarian and creative.

    There are plenty of records with stereo mixes where part of the performance is hard left, and part of the performance is hard right, due to some studio limitations at the time.

    But there are plenty of records, like Axis, where the artist / producer / engineer combination took care to try to use the stereo option to enhance the listening experience in some way.

    For me, both are interesting for different reasons. The utilitarian stereo mixes, where an instrument just “sits there” in one corner of the room, so to speak, are fun because you get to hear things separately if you’d like. The creative stereo mixes can be compelling because they use panning to intensify emotional peaks in a song (thinking of how the guitar solo tracks on Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills” begin to move L to R more rapidly as Page plays more rapidly).

    However, of the two varieties, I think the utilitarian type of stereo mix has a greater chance of taking me out of the song than the creative type, because it makes everything so separate: I wind up focusing on whether or not I can tell if John had a cold that day, or if Hendrix was nervous while singing.

    At least with the creative variety, they’re not trying to take me out of the song, but making the song take me away.

    There’s one caveat to all of this: the creative variety of stereo mixing used injudiciously can be rather annoying. I’ll agree with you on that. I just don’t think it’s annoying on Axis, not at all. For example, when the flanged drums introduce the solo at the end of Axis, and the entire mix hard pans from l to r and back again, it feels entirely appropriate to me. I can see why it might distract some people, but I hear it as a judicious use of the effect.

  27. tonyola

    Another thing:

    Had Axis been released as a single, we would have been denied the eye-popping album artwork that looked absolutely stunning on the record store racks in late 1967.

  28. BigSteve

    Funny, I popped the earbuds in to revisit a few things on Axis, and the stereo panning was extremely annoying in that inner ear environment. Over the air through decent speakers, I don’t think I’d mind it.

    I just checked, and there seem to be no authorized mono Hendrix reissues. Too bad, because they might be interesting.

  29. saturnismine

    I never got the mono-fetishization here on RTH (and among my hipster record snob friends). It always sounded like purist drivel to me, of the same variety that comes out of uppity baseball fans when they talk about the sanctity of their game as opposed to football. Blech.

  30. saturnismine

    Oh…and I LOVE mono and stereo, and baseball and football the same. I’m complaining about the fetishists of the former in each pairing, not the thing itself.

    The fetishisti are thinging their things.

    Oh…and BigSteve (aka Leggy) annoyed by Axis’s hard pans and l to r swooshes? Gee, what a shock.

  31. MONO Hendrix?!?!?! I honestly never considered that such a thing could be. I thought they invented stereo for Hendrix and the Beatles. I can’t say what I think without ever hearing mono mixes, but man, I love all that studio gimmickry just like I love most of Jimi’s guitar wanking.

  32. Music’s not meant to be listened to regularly on headphones.

  33. 2000 Man

    I thought they peaked when Tony Sheridan left the band?

  34. 2000 Man


    Dude – Hendrix!

  35. mockcarr

    Or played. It should remain dots on a page in our imaginations.

  36. BigSteve

    I do think this is a case where stereo is what the artist intended, unlike say the early Kinks and Beatles records.

    Gotta get back to fetishizing mono now….

  37. I AM specifically talking about the trippy head music mixes, conceived and recorded that way, NOT the “re-channeled for stereo!” bullshit mixes of things that were recorded in mono. Those, to me, are completely horrible and unlistenable, because they weaken the sonic punch of the songs. I generally prefer to hear the music in the format in which it was conceived and recorded.

    I KNOW that Hendrix’s stuff was conceived this way (as “using the studio as part of the composition, maan”), and have no mono bias or fetish at all, but I still think they just overdid it. I had a similar experience to Steve’s, about a year ago. And if ANYONE recorded stuff that should be considered “headphone music”, I would think Jimi would be that (mer)man. I’ve got a mono copy of the first album, which I bought used in high school (I didn’t set out to buy it that way, it was something I realized post-purchase), and after listening to the stereo “trippy” mixes, I listened to the same songs off the album, and found that, for me, they just connected more immediately and hit harder sonically without all the studio frippery. To tell you the truth, I was fully expecting to love the stereo stuff, which I hadn’t really listened to in years, but all the excessive panning just ended up annoying me (this was the Experience box set, if that’s of any consequence).

  38. bostonhistorian

    You know, that might explain why I generally like the BBC versions of Hendrix songs more than the LP versions.

  39. saturnismine

    bobby, i find the stereo on AYE annoying, but not the stereo on Axis. The latter seems much more crafted to me. The former seems arbitrary.

    But I get what you’re saying about mono…doing away with some of the bells and whistles, the riff raff, really probably does help a little…

  40. alexmagic

    Now that we’ve all had the chance to work through the trauma of this thread and the poll that spawned it, I will say for posterity that the the two best songs on Axis are two not mentioned in the initial post, “Bold As Love” and “One Rainy Wish”.

    And, should the intent of my initial post in this thread become lost over the years, the ranking of players on the album is: Hendrix, Mitchell, Roy Wood, Trevor Burton, Gary Walker, Noel Redding, Michael Jeffery and Graham Nash. (Nash was the worst foot-stomper on the album due to a flaw in his leg-bone structure that played a key part in his legs being broken in that boating accident in 1999.)

  41. I recently heard the mono of the UK version of Are You Experienced.

    I like the stereo better.

    The US version of the album is better, too, in terms of songs included and sequencing.

  42. From the Wikipedia Axis entry (for what it’s worth):

    “Just before the album’s completion, Hendrix left the master tapes of side 1 in a taxi. They were never found again, and thus the A-side had to be mixed again quickly.”

  43. That’s great, what’s that make, at least 2 tales of master tapes being left on public transportation (also Graham Parker’s Stick to Me and maybe one other artist’s mixes) as well as Bono’s book of lyrics for the second U2 album?

  44. Don’t forget the plot to Give My Regards to Broad Street!

  45. And is that also, in fact, the plot of that movie?

  46. Now that I think about it, public transportation may not have been involved in the missing master tapes in that film.

  47. Oh, I don’t know anything about that movie other than the clips that I’ve seen on YouTube indicate that the master tapes should be burned. I thought you meant that the intended plot of the movie was lost on public transportation, but were you saying that the actual plot involves such hijinx?

  48. misterioso

    This would be the rock equivalent of “the dog ate my homework,” no?

  49. Here’s the plot as I recall.

    The master tapes to Paul’s new album have gone missing! Somehow, this could have serious repercussions on his piles and piles of money. An ex-con employee of Paul’s has gone missing and is suspected. (I wonder how many ex-cons Paul in real life has employed over the years. Is MPL Communications just one big halfway house for grifters?) Eventually it turns out the ex-con locked himself inside a porta potty or something (God, I hope that’s really the plot) with the tapes by accident. Crisis averted! Oh, and the whole thing was a dream. Spoiler alert!

  50. I’ve got another one: Liquor Giants “You’re Always Welcome”. Leader Ward Dodson allegedly left the master tapes in a cab and the entire record had to be mastered from a cassette copy. A great rock record, actually, iffy fidelity non-withstanding.

  51. alexmagic

    Keith Richards knocked out and disguised himself as that cabbie so that he could distract Jimi during that cab ride and then steal the Axis masters.

    Mod, I think Broad Street should go on the short list of films (including the Sgt. Pepper movie, Pop Gear and Eddie & The Cruisers) that should become RTH viewing subjects.

  52. misterioso

    Perhaps more rock musicians and/or producers should consider walking more.

    Dammit, I am not sitting through Broad Street again in this lifetime, man. Just the trailer was bad enough http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_f0D-pn0mo&feature=related

    And having successfully avoided Eddie and the Cruisers in its time I have no intention of sullying my record at this late date.

  53. I will take that under consideration. I am about to begin looking into scheduling a movie night in our backyard for later this summer.

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