Jimi Hendrix

Axis Outtakes

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A two-CD, approximately 90-minute set of outtakes from Axis: Bold as Love sounds like something that should be hungrily welcomed by Jimi Hendrix lovers. Like many collections that purport to be something not quite what they are, however, this almost-but-not-quite-official-looking release isn't quite what its title might lead you to expect. First, not everything is from the sessions for that second Jimi Hendrix Experience album; all of disc two, according to the sketchy liner notes, was done a little later. How much later? Of course, the notes don't tell you, which makes it difficult to assess within Hendrix's oeuvre for all but the most devout scholar. As for the actual Axis: Bold as Love outtakes on disc one, the sound on the half-dozen alternate versions of songs that actually made the LP can be surprisingly mediocre, and the differences not ones that would excite the average fan, especially since this version of "Little Wing" lacks vocals. Of the outtakes from the album sessions of songs that didn't make the LP, "Takin' Care of No Business" (two versions, no less) is an outlandishly vaudevillian number that couldn't have possibly been given serious consideration for inclusion; "South Saturn Delta" is a skeletal instrumental; "Cat Talkin' to Me" has a rare (and unremarkable) Mitch Mitchell vocal; and "The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam's Dice" did show up on a B-side, though the track here has such muddy sound it's hard to believe a better version doesn't exist somewhere. Disc two, like many outtakes, serves as an inadvertent tribute to the wisdom of what was selected to go on Hendrix's official releases, as none of these would have fit comfortably on Electric Ladyland, starting with a couple merely passable psychedelic pop outings written by Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Much of the rest is taken up by half-baked songs (some of them instrumental), jams, and combinations of the two, as well as an instrumental cover of Albert Collins' "Driving South." While testifying to Hendrix's instrumental prowess, the workouts just don't have much strong material at the core to wrap those around. Very serious Hendrix fans will find things of interest here as glimpses into some of the ideas floating around his head in late 1967 and early 1968. The average Hendrix fan, however, will find this substandard, and the annotation doesn't do anyone any favors by being so murky about the specific sources of this material, let alone specifying where some of the songs that didn't make it onto Axis: Bold as Love might have appeared elsewhere in official versions.

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