Jimi Hendrix
People, Hell, and Angels


3.7
great

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
March 7th, 2013 | 54 replies | 13,063 views


Release Date: 03/01/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "If I don't meet you no more in this world, then I'll meet you on the next one, so don't be late."

The release of 1997's First Rays of the New Rising Sun, was an attempt at finally constructing the album that Jimi Hendrix never got a chance to complete. It consisted of unreleased studio recordings that Jimi worked on after the demise of the 'The Experience' in 1969, following the departure of bassist Noel Redding. Though Mitch Mitchell is still present in a few of the tracks, a lot of the music was actually recorded with future bandmates; bassist Billy Cox and his newest drummer, Buddy Miles, both of whom would go on to perform in his second power trio, Band Of Gypsys. At this point, you must be wondering where exactly People, Hell & Angels fits in this particular equation. Well, during the initial plans for Jimi's fifth effort, he thought about releasing the official album (First Rays of the New Rising Sun), as well as an additional release of songs that didn't fit the project under the name 'People, Hell And Angels'. In other words, this is the prolonged sequel of rare outtakes and early material from the First Rays of the New Rising Sun sessions. So, what you, the fan, are being offered here is a chance to see how these songs evolved over time and how Jimi's plans for this legendary fifth album transpired.

This was a transitional period in Jimi's career, and it can be instantly perceived in the way the music expresses itself. Despite the recordings for First Rays of the New Rising Sun taking place right after the release of one of psychedelia's most acclaimed landmark efforts, Electric Ladyland, this particular album shows Jimi beginning to deviate from elaborate innovations and embracing a style that is much more simple. People, Hell & Angels could in a way be considered the 'actual' debut of Band of Gypsys because not only is most of the content constructed by its members, but it also reveals the intrinsic blues-rock sound that the group would become revered for. Immediately as "Earth Blues" opens up the album, we can already hear a different Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar. There are no layers of fuzzed-out distortion or excessive wah-wah decorations to be found in the execution of his riffs and solo work, it's just 'electrified' blues. Even the vocal choruses that accompany Jimi's leads, have this conspicuously derived influence from gospel and soul music. The sound of Band Of Gypsys has often been recognized as Jimi's attempt to reconnect with the southern 'roots' of traditional blues, which helps add a soulful tone to a handful of the tracks. "Somewhere" is one of the very few to feature the usage of wah-wah distortion, but their role has a different purpose here than that found in albums like Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland. The wah-wah touches are used with a noticeable sense of restrain, and it's because Jimi incorporates the technique to simply magnify the groove of his guitar rather than setting it up as a prominent display of psychedelic assertions.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main details of People, Hell & Angels is that it is embodied by a handful of familiar songs, though each one presented under different interpretations, whether it be musical or lyrical. Some are present in First Rays of the New Rising Sun, while others we've heard numerous times in other posthumously released albums. The main examples that come to mind would be "Izabella" and "Hear My Train A Comin'", which practically every fan of Jimi Hendrix has heard at least once, especially their most famous renditions in the Woodstock festival and at the Fillmore East with Band of Gypsys. "Izabella" is one of the few tracks to not only feature Mitch Mitchell playing alongside Jimi, but it also exhibits the supporting band from the original Woodstock performance as well. Though guitarist Larry Lee and percussionists Jerry Velez and Juma Sultan, manage to make an appearance, this particular version of "Izabella", doesn't quite live up to the level of charismatic vitality that was expressed at Woodstock. Besides their length, there isn't much of a difference in their structure and musical compositions, yet this studio version lacks that similar raw feel to augment the volume and intensity of the music. As for "Hear My Train A Comin'", we've seen this song reappear in 1975's Midnight Lightning, 2010's Valleys of Neptune, as well as countless box sets and live recordings that its come to the point where no matter what variation in sound this song may offer- we're tired of hearing it. This piece is without a doubt one of Jimi's most celebrated blues numbers, and though it delivers its usual vivacious demeanor and abundance of exhilarating guitar solos by the legend himself, there's virtually nothing here that wasn't already offered in both the previous studio and live versions.

As entertaining as this album may be, a lot of these songs, needless to say, feel rather parched of vitality. The latter portion of the album, primarily songs like "Crash Landing", "Hey Gypsy Boy", and "Villanova Junction Blues", feel as if they're missing some kind of small, though crucial element needed to enliven the irresistible allure that's found in Jimi's previous works. The funky rhythms in "Crash Landing" and lyrical passages from "Hey Gypsy Boys" are basically early archetypes that were perhaps deemed by Jimi as being deficient, because they would eventually be renovated to make up their First Rays of the New Rising Sun incarnations, "Dolly Dagger" and "Hey Baby". The concluding piece, "Villanova Junction Blues", is just a short jam between the musicians that accomplishes nothing in its less than two minute lifespan other than a few rhythms and melodies to end the album. "Let Me Move You" and "Mojo Man" are the only pieces in this entire album that actually feel 'complete'. They're both jazz-influenced and grooving jams that spices up People, Hell & Angels with some much needed innovation that redeem the essence of stagnancy throughout the album. Overall, this is certainly an intriguing perspective on the events surrounding the sessions for Jimi's unfinished fifth album, but in the end, it has very little to offer anyone besides 'Hendrix-fanatics' who must hear these rare outtakes to expand their knowledge of his work. There's more than a few standout pieces to be found, though nothing that will come as any major surprise. But I suppose this is still a momentous release as it signifies the last of the studio recordings that have been kept from the public's ears. Nevertheless, this is far from being the last time we'll hear about a new Jimi Hendrix release, in fact, it's already been revealed that there will be several as-yet-unreleased live recordings to be available in the coming years. As if Jimi Hendrix didn't already have enough live albums as it is.



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user ratings (49)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2013



4412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

2 days late, but here's my review for the album. Hope you like it, if there's any typos, I apologize, I'll get through them tomorrow
morning when I have more time. Cheers and enjoy.

It's currently streaming on spotify:
http://open.spotify.com/album/4TKeFuhHHiBhRddgUfZEvf

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

tommygun
March 7th 2013



24584 Comments


holy shit

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

tommygun
March 7th 2013



24584 Comments


great review prob gonna check this but yeah his golddigging sister has released so much posthumous stuff I don't even know where to start

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2013



4412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks, Tommy. Yeah, I'm not all that on board with all fo these posthumous albums. some are good, others I dont really care for. As a Hendrix fan, I'll always look into them but honestly... more live stuff? He has 19 live releases altogether. What more could they possibly have?

DrGonzo1937
March 7th 2013



5534 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

mmm the reviews have been a universal agreement. I'm gonna have to buy this now.

BigPleb
March 7th 2013



36039 Comments


Its Jimi, so its a 5

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

fromtheinside
March 7th 2013



18082 Comments


"I wasn't gonna post this till i was staff and it'd be seen for sure" paperbackwriter

Digging: Transcending Bizarre? - The Serpent's Manifolds

DrGonzo1937
March 7th 2013



5534 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol You have a point.

Hep Kat
March 7th 2013



15352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

production on this robs a lot of the integrity from the music. it's not bad though, prolly 3-3.3ish

Digging: Botany Boyz - Forever Botany

MO
March 7th 2013



18522 Comments


nice

whereabouts in Europe?

thricearereallybad
March 7th 2013



119 Comments


I had a j with Jimi in '68

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2013



10069 Comments


""I wasn't gonna post this till i was staff and it'd be seen for sure" paperbackwriter"

Y'know, except for the fact that he broke 100 reviews before even getting staff, etc. etc.

Looks very good, Hernan.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

DrGonzo1937
March 7th 2013



5534 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Jamming it out now. Hear my Train A Comin' is awesome.

thricearereallybad
March 7th 2013



119 Comments


hear my j a comin'

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2013



1987 Comments


Needs more root beer!

Good review, Hernan. Enjoy Europe, man! Wish I could get out there sometime.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2013



1987 Comments


http://teamcoco.com/video/first-listen-new-jimi-hendrix-music-discovered-its-weird

Rootin' Tootin' yeah, baby!
It's Sasparilla time!

thricearereallybad
March 7th 2013



119 Comments


its get yo tootin ass outta here time

manosg
March 7th 2013



5958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

More Hendrix posthumous stuff? At least it's not a live album. I will listen to it and rate it.

Great review too.

Digging: Saviour Machine - Saviour Machine I

bloc
March 7th 2013



34774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album rocks pretty damn hard for a dead guy. I wasn't expecting it to be so good.

This could pass for an album Hendrix made when he was still alive, imo.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

FiveLeavesLeft
March 7th 2013



9838 Comments


This guy seems to have as many compilation releases as Aerosmith or 2pac, and that's really saying something



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