After some thought, I have decided that I am going to do write ups for other albums between my posts of The Who’s albums. Tonight’s album is Axis: Bold as Love by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It’s one of my favorite albums, though it isn’t most critics’ favorite of the JHE albums.
Before I get into the album itself, I want to preface this with an admission: I have complicated feelings about the JHE. On the one hand I recognize that all 3 members were talented musicians, but on the other I get frustrated with how Jimi is often regarded as a guitar god by the general population. He played well, he had his own style, and I love that his lefty solution was to turn the guitar upside down; I just don’t think that he is the greatest ever.
Axis is the second of the three JHE albums. It was recorded in the early summer of 1967 (the summer of love, as the kids called it), alongside their infamous performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. The first track starts with Mitch Mitchell acting as a radio interviewer, before it delves into experimental feedback (I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t skip it whenever I listen).
“Up from the Skies” opens the album; it’s light and chill, but still full of Jimi’s signature fuzzy wah wah sound. It’s followed by “Spanish Castle Magic,” which is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The guitar solo in it never ceases to surprise me, it has such a rich sound as though Jimi was playing a Gibson instead of a Fender. I don’t know how he always pulled that off.
“Wait Until Tomorrow” is track 4, and is so. incredibly. catchy. “Little Wing,” track 6, is probably the most well-known from the album. Per Jimi it was written about his Monterey Pop experience personified into a woman. It’s slower and bluesy, which is perfect alongside the lyrics.
Track 9, “Castles Made of Sand,” is a bit of surprise. Jimi wasn’t exactly known to be a master lyricist, but the lyrics to this song are perfection, even if sad. It’s biographical for him, so maybe that helped him find his (written) voice, but it really showed so much potential for where he could have gone with his songwriting.
Noel Redding wrote and sang “She’s So Fine,” and while its sound is different from the rest of the album, it fits well. “One Rainy Wish” expands on that amazing writing potential Jimi showed in “Castles Made of Sand.” It starts slow and then ends up a song to scream along with when Jimi sings “I have never / laid eyes on you.” I love it when that line hits.
The album ends with “Bold as Love.” The latter half of the track is an instrumental medley and it really feels like an encore. They all go hard with their playing to end with a bang, such a great way to wrap it all up.
Overall the album is light, easily to listen to, and oddly enough it is relaxing to listen to. If I need a musical pick me up, this is easily my go-to. It clocks in just under 40 minutes, so it’s perfect for a quick listen. You can check it out on Spotify here.