Electric Ladyland is the third and final album of new material by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in October 1968 on Reprise Records. It is the only Hendrix studio album professionally produced under his supervision. It topped the Billboard 200 album chart for two weeks in November 1968. Released as a double album, Electric Ladyland is a cross-section of Hendrix’s wide range of musical talent. It includes examples of several genres and styles of music: the psychedelic “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”, previously a U.K. single in the summer of 1967; the extended blues jam “Voodoo Chile”; the New Orleans-style R&B; of Earl King’s “Come On”; the epic studio production of “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”; the social commentary of “House Burning Down”; and the Sixties-era Britpop of Noel Redding’s “Little Miss Strange”. The album also features an electric reworking of the Bob Dylan classic “All Along the Watchtower”, which has been well received by critics as well as by Dylan classic “All Along the Watchtower”, which has been well received by critics as well as by Dylan himself, and also “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”, a staple of both radio and guitar repertoire.

Following the first installment of recordings from Olympic Studios in London, including part of “All Along the Watchtower” and the aforementioned 1967 single, production moved during the spring of 1968 to the newly opened Record Plant Studios, situated close to Hendrix’s favorite New York clubs. Recording there was by Jimi’s favorite engineers Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren. Despite a claim by Record Plant engineer Chris Stone that Kellgren engineered “90%” of Ladyland, the studio records show that most of the work was done by Kramer, only three tracks including the one by Redding having Kellgren as engineer.

During the recording of the album, Hendrix fell out with producer Bryan “Chas” Chandler and Redding. Both of them grew tired with the undisciplined way Hendrix was working in the studio, because he was constantly inviting his friends and acquaintances in there. Chandler hated spending so much time in the studio and partly blamed it on these guests, but Jimi was determined to have his way. Chandler also complained that Hendrix’s insistence on doing multiple takes of every song, combined with what he saw as Hendrix’s drugged incoherence, led him to sell his share of the management company to his partner Michael Jeffery. Chandler quit in May 1968, leaving Hendrix sole producer on the project.

Hendrix’ studio perfectionism was legendary – he and Mitch Mitchell recorded well over 50 takes of “Gypsy Eyes” over three sessions, Hendrix was generally insecure about his voice and often recorded his vocals hidden behind studio screens. Hendrix sang all the backing vocals himself on the title track and on “Long Hot Summer Night”. He was said to be very happy with the vocal results on “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)”.

Many of the album tracks show Hendrix’s vision expanding far beyond the scope of the original trio and saw him collaborating with a range of outside musicians including Dave Mason, Chris Wood and Steve Winwood from Traffic; future Band of Gypsys drummer Buddy Miles; Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady; former Dylan organist Al Kooper; and members of ‘the Serfs’: Mike Finnegan on organ, Freddie Smith on saxophone, and Larry Faucette on congas. Cooperation between Hendrix and Redding, who was of the same opinion about time spent in the studio as Chandler, was strained during production. Hendrix plays bass on many tracks, including the bass solo on “1983”. At times Hendrix recorded bass tracks simply to make things proceed faster. Redding plays acoustic guitar and sings lead vocals with Mitchell on “Little Miss Strange”.

Edited by NowYeKnow on 8 Jan 2013, 00:28

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