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Embark on a musical journey through the legendary discography of Jimi Hendrix, one of the greatest guitarists in history. From the blues-infused reflections in “Blues” to the electric improvisations of “Hendrix in the West,” each album reveals a different facet of Hendrix’s genius.

Delve into the iconic Woodstock performance, where Hendrix’s band, despite minimal rehearsal, delivered an electrifying rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Explore the celebrated “Live at Winterland” box set, offering a glimpse into the symbiotic interplay between Hendrix, Mitchell, and Redding.

Join us as we rank Jimi Hendrix’s top 10 best albums

 


10. Blues (1994)

 

“Blues” stands as a testament to Jimi Hendrix’s profound roots in blues music. Released posthumously, this compilation brings together soul-stirring blues tracks, offering a powerful reminder of Hendrix’s knack for blending traditional blues with his psychedelic touch. It’s a fine collection, placing Jimi Hendrix within the broader context of modern American music genres.

Even for those who don’t think they appreciate blues, its influence echoes through rock, R&B, rap, jazz, and gospel. Hendrix’s love for the blues is evident in this compilation, featuring familiar tunes in alternate or live versions that add a new dimension.

As someone whose introduction to the greatness of blues came through Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” on “Electric Ladyland”, this collection serves as a further exploration of his electrifying blues performances, showcasing the versatility of his guitar mastery. It’s a fantastic showcase that could lead to exploring Hendrix’s other facets, like Hendrix: Jazz or Hendrix: Rock, although the Blues compilation alone does the job exceptionally well, especially with its generous serving of electrifying guitar work.

 


9. Radio One / BBC Sessions (1988)

 

Delving into the BBC vaults, this release unveils a spectrum of Hendrix’s live performances, embodying both the strengths and weaknesses typical of BBC releases. The clear sound is a plus, but repeated renditions of tracks like ‘Hey Joe’ may test patience. Despite this, the 2-CD set, emerging in 2011, harbors unique gems. Standouts include the humorous ‘Radio One Jingle’ and the infamous ‘Lulu incident.’ While adhering to radio standards, it stands as an outstanding display of Hendrix’s live brilliance, a concentrated and tasteful performance deserving a spot in any Hendrix fan’s collection.

“Radio One / BBC Sessions” captures Hendrix’s unbridled live energy. From various BBC sessions, these recordings provide insight into the intensity and spontaneity of his performances. Featuring blistering guitar solos and soulful vocals, the album exemplifies Hendrix’s magnetic stage presence, showcasing his ability to captivate audiences. Together with the aforementioned release, these albums collectively present a comprehensive journey through Hendrix’s electrifying live performances.

 


8. Hendrix in the West (1972)

 

“Hendrix in the West” is a captivating snapshot of his live brilliance beyond the studio, featuring recordings from various concerts that highlight the spontaneity and improvisational brilliance of Jimi Hendrix’s live performances. Despite being somewhat elusive until 2011, this album offers exceptional live recordings, including rare gems from 1969 and 1970.

The collection includes standout tracks like the rare and excellent opening sequence of “God Save the Queen” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” accompanied by Hendrix’s characteristically hilarious introduction.

For those familiar with the original vinyl, there are differences to note. Versions of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Little Wing” from Royal Albert Hall are replaced with renditions from San Diego 1969 and Winterland 1968. Additionally, bonus tracks like “I Don’t Live Today,” “Fire,” and “Spanish Castle Magic” are from the San Diego show.

While old vinyl enthusiasts might quibble about track resequencing, the average listener will likely be oblivious. “Hendrix in the West” is a long-awaited digital debut, offering a great sampling of Hendrix’s late-period live material, complete with his signature humor.

 


7. First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (1997)

 

“First Rays Of The New Rising Sun” is the definitive concept of Jimi Hendrix’s fourth studio album, a follow-up to “Electric Ladyland”. This envisioned album is rooted in the songs Jimi Hendrix was crafting near the end of his life, shaped by drummer Mitch Mitchell and engineer Eddie Kramer’s discussions with him during those final months. While some alternate versions of these tracks have seen the light, this compilation offers the optimal arrangement, providing a vivid picture of Jimi’s artistic future as he intended it. It’s a must-have, especially if you already treasure “Are You Experienced,” “Axis: Bold as Love,” “Electric Ladyland,” and “Band of Gypsies,” essentially eclipsing the significance of “Cry of Love” and “Rainbow Bridge.”

In a similar vein, “First Rays Of The New Rising Sun” stands as a posthumous testament to Hendrix’s evolving musical vision. Envisaged as a double LP, these tracks offer a poignant exploration of the path Jimi was charting before his untimely departure. For fans seeking insight into the artist’s creative journey, this album is essential, providing a glimpse of the musical brilliance that might have unfolded.

 


6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)

 

Let’s dig into “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” purple box, a musical treasure released in 2000 by MCA. This compilation is a Jimi Hendrix feast, featuring alternative recordings, live gems, and rarities. In this set, you’ll find unreleased live versions of classics like “Killing Floor” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” The alternative recordings include Hendrix’s studio and “First Rays of the New Rising Sun” tracks, from “Purple Haze” to “Gypsy Eyes.”

Live performances take you to iconic venues—Monterey Pop Festival, Royal Albert Hall, and the Isle of Wight. Notably, a near-complete “Hendrix in the West” amps up the live experience. The recordings, especially from “Hendrix in the West,” underwent slight tweaks for better sound without losing the original essence.

In a nutshell, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” purple box is a sonic celebration of a legend. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newcomer, this compilation unlocks the magic of Jimi Hendrix’s timeless artistry. Crank up the volume and let the Hendrix experience roll!

 


5. Band of Gypsys (1970)

 

“Band of Gypsys” captures a pivotal moment in Jimi Hendrix’s career, showcasing his collaboration with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. Recorded live at the Fillmore East in 1969, this album is a testament to Hendrix’s evolution as an artist. Tracks like “Machine Gun” and “Who Knows” reflect the raw energy of Hendrix’s live performances, a must-listen for any fan.

This live masterpiece came about due to a legal battle. Jimi Hendrix, now without his original group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, recorded an album for Capitol Records. The Band of Gypsys played two shows on New Year’s Eve and two more on New Year’s Day 1970, shaping an album released on March 25, 1970, featuring eight tracks.

A departure from the psychedelic song craft of “Are You Experienced” and “Electric Ladyland,” the album blends funk and rhythm and blues with hard rock and jamming, laying the groundwork for funk rock. The new songs signal a shift in theme, showcasing Hendrix’s evolving musical direction. Titles like “Message to Love,” “Power of Soul,” “Earth Blues,” and “Burning Desire” replace earlier playful humor with a strident sense of self-examination. Cox and Miles play a crucial role in merging rock and funk seamlessly.

 


4. Axis: Bold As Love (1967)

 

Although not as groundbreaking as “Are You Experienced,” “Axis: Bold As Love” marks the moment when Jimi Hendrix evolved into not just an extraordinary guitarist but also a brilliant songwriter. Released a mere seven months after the monumental debut album, “Axis: Bold As Love” serves as a compelling continuation of Jimi Hendrix’s sonic journey.

The songs on this record exhibit a newfound focus, showcasing a tighter sound as the band trims those loose ends that occasionally surfaced on the debut. The lyrics, now imbued with more depth, reflect Hendrix’s continued maturation. This album is a testament to an artist refining his craft and expanding his musical palette.

Some of the highlights are ‘Spanish Castle Magic,’ the infectious charm of ‘Wait Until Tomorrow,’ the ethereal beauty of ‘Little Wing’, about Jimi Hendrix’s mother, the rebellious spirit of ‘If 6 Was 9,’ the poetic sands of ‘Castles Made of Sand,’ the soulful groove of ‘She’s So Fine,’ and the magnetic allure of ‘Little Miss Lover.’ In essence, the entire album is a musical journey worth experiencing at least once in this lifetime.

 


3. Live at Monterey (1967)

 

Immortalizing the historic moment when American psychedelic rock hit the big time, “Live At Monterey” captures the electrifying performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. This live album stands as a testament to Jimi Hendrix’s mesmerizing stage presence, marking a pivotal point in his career and the ’60s music revolution. The festival itself wouldn’t have reached the explosive heights it did without the previously unknown Jimi Hendrix Experience, whose performance catapulted Jimi Hendrix into the mainstream.

Throughout the entire set, Jimi Hendrix delivers ferociously exciting rock and roll, but it’s the climax that etched this performance into the annals of popular music history. During Hendrix’s apocalyptic rendition of “Wild Thing,” he famously set his guitar on fire, creating a spectacle that left the audience in awe. As the flames danced and Jimi Hendrix sank to his knees in front of the fiery display, he not only closed out the set but also solidified his status as a groundbreaking performer.

 


2. Electric Ladyland (1968)

 

“Electric Ladyland” was crafted in the newly installed Record Plant, New York’s pioneering 12-track studio, marking a pivotal moment in Jimi Hendrix’s sonic exploration. He spent countless hours, often accompanied by heavy friends like Casady and Winwood, delving into various shades of sound. From the epic and visionary journey of “1983…” to the deepest, loudest rock blues ever committed to tape with “Voodoo Chile,”.

The intensity of the sessions led to an exasperated Chas Chandler walking out midway. However, Jimi Hendrix’s artistic instincts were proven right, and the resulting double LP, stands as a rock cornerstone. The album remains a testament to Jimi Hendrix’s ability to push boundaries, defy genres, and create a sonic masterpiece that reverberates through the annals of music history.

 


1. Are You Experienced (1967)

 

At the top of our ranking is the classic album “Are You Experienced.” This timeless masterpiece has been a captivating musical experience ever since its first release in 1967. Its impact is so profound that it consistently makes its way onto lists of the top 100 albums and most influential debuts. In 2020, Rolling Stone bestowed the album with a 30th place on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Recognizing its cultural significance, the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry, ensuring its everlasting glory.

 


Honorable Mentions

 

Live at Woodstock

In August 1994, MCA Records released “Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock,” a single-disc collection of highlights from Jimi Hendrix’s iconic closing set at Woodstock. However, it falls short of securing a spot in our top ten, given the historical context—Hendrix’s band lacked sufficient rehearsal time. Despite its historical significance, this concert is not without its flaws.

Listening to the complete concert underscores Hendrix’s effort to compensate for his under-rehearsed band through extended jams. Nearly every track exceeds five minutes, with a couple extending beyond the ten-minute mark.

For dedicated Hendrix fans, this extended jamming is far from a detriment. The set is crafted for them—those who appreciate the subtleties of Jimi’s playing and the distinctive energy of a Woodstock performance. Just eight weeks after disbanding the Experience, Hendrix collaborated with musicians willing to follow him anywhere.

Despite any shortcomings, it’s crucial to recognize that this album captures one of the most poignant moments of the 1960s: the redemption of the “Star-Spangled Banner” song. Hendrix’s rendition of the national anthem at Woodstock is an iconic, transcendent moment that elevates the historical significance of this live recording.

 

Live at Winterland

The Winterland box set is a musical treasure trove, unveiling Jimi Hendrix’s legendary performances officially on CD, LP, and highlights CD. The set captures the electrifying interplay between Hendrix, Mitchell, and Redding, featuring iconic tracks like “Hey Joe” and “Sunshine of Your Love.”

The performances, occasionally raw, showcase Jimi Hendrix’s evolving style over six distinct shows. Released in various formats, Winterland opens a new chapter in Hendrix’s legacy, emphasizing his unparalleled ability to convey true feelings even in raw and ragged performances.

 


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Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix Experience

 

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