Recently, a Jimi Hendrix album called Both Sides of The Sky released, promising outtakes and unreleased tracks from 1968-1970. The album is the third body of work in a trio of “vault” releases. Here’s the track list:
- Mannish Boy
- Lover Man
- Hear My Train a Comin’
- Stepping Stone
- $20 Fine
- Power of Soul
- Things I Used to Do
- Georgia Blues
- Sweet Angel
- Send My Love to Linda
- Cherokee Mist
Jimi Hendrix is the type of artist that doesn’t need any introduction. Personally, a large portion of what I do all traces back to the first time I heard “Voodoo Child”. His artistry continues to make an impact on artists of all shapes and statures. With an iconic resonance that is seemingly infinite, spin-off albums continue to sprout up as well.
We can all agree that Hendrix is a lovable drop of revolutionary psychedelia, but this album is dripping with songs that have already been released. At least a third of these songs can be found on other albums (Mannish Boy, Lover Man, Hear My Train a Comin’, Sweet Angel, Cherokee Mist to name a few). Although these are technically unreleased recordings, most die-hard Hendrix fans are probably familiar with the compositions.
Both Sides of The Sky features great rock, blues, and r&b-infused lyricism. The recordings are embossed in a crisp analog glow, and overall it’s really enjoyable. The album is marketed like a vault-salvaged, undiscovered gem from the depths of Eddie Kramer’s lock box, however it’s not quite the case.
The prior albums, People, Hell, and Angels and Valleys of Neptune are a similar albums cut from songs that were previously “unreleased”.
There is something that rubs me the wrong way about these ghost albums. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Hendrix only managed to release a small handful of studio albums in his 3-year professional career. Any unearthed recordings from any high-caliber artist is a pleasure to discover. It feels like discovering the artist all over again. The issue here revolves around the fact that these spare releases just don’t feel like traditional albums.
“Both Sides of The Sky” on the front cover is a title that mimics the mysticism and native spirituality of Jimi Hendrix’s songwriting style, but sadly it doesn’t resonate like a true Hendrix album. The title seems somewhat aimless in meaning and poorly correlates to the content of the album. The songs are all beautiful in their own vibe, but some fans might not entirely agree with the album’s regurgitated nature. It’s simply a poor excuse for a body of work. What we have here is a rag-tag list of alternate recordings of songs that have been floating around for a while now.
Jimi Hendrix is a rock n’ roll icon of the late ’60s, and his image represents the most romanticized, yet controversial, era in music history. In less than a decade, he amassed a legendary profile, but at this point there isn’t another peak to scale. The “vault” (I shudder at the poor word choice) is forever clear – let’s leave it shut.
To Jimi, thanks for being such a pivotal figure in all of our lives.