Jeff Monk Reviews – Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix: Both Sides Of The Sky (Sony Music)

Jimi Hendrix: Both Sides Of The Sky (Sony Music)

Jimi Hendrix (singer/guitarist) has been dead nearly twice as long as he was alive and unlike any other contemporary musical artist of his age, his music continues to be issued. “BSOTS” is the latest take(s) on the seemingly endless liberation of his “unreleased” music and in that sense, this album can only really be measured against other posthumous releases. In short, Hendrix fans will want to know if this adds anything to the canon as it were and whether they should lay out any hard earned cash to own it and add it to their likely bursting at the seams Hendrix musical assortment. The answer is a definitive maybe! Or to be more precise…might as well. In a nutshell, there is nothing here that will set the world aflame as far as undiscovered top-level rarities go. That ship has long since sailed off into the psychedelic sunset. These tracks are all studio versions and were recorded closer to the end of Hendrix’s short life at a time when he was trying to detach himself from the strains of recreating his Experience band hits ad nauseam for stoned audiences worldwide. Opening track “Mannish Boy” is a good take on the blues standard performed in a mid-tempo groove with plenty of note production by our man in velvet paisley. “Lover Man” was a staple of other posthumous releases (the best being “Hendrix In The West”) and in our opinion, this version sounds like a studio practice session. The over seven minute long “Hear My Train A-Comin’” gives listeners a good indication of the bones of what became legendary on live recordings especially 1970s’ “Band Of Gypsys”. The two tracks (“$20 Fine”, “Woodstock”) featuring Stephen Stills are interesting in their revelation that Hendrix could jam without showboating and let others lead the song. Stills does an admirable job on both and for trainspotters will note that the version of “Woodstock” here was recorded before Stills delivered the song to his main band CSNY. Slide guitar man Johnny Winter proves an able foil for The Hen on the up-tempo version “Things I Used To Do” and singer/saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood delivers a kinetic version of “Georgia Blues” where we again find Hendrix supporting ably. There are a couple of only mildly interesting instrumentals (a nascent “Sweet Angel”, “Jungle”) and a version of “Cherokee Mist” where Hendrix adds intriguing electric sitar solos throughout. Those of you that have digested hours of Hendrix music over the years will find some joy in hearing his guitar work in these songs. There is no denying that he could dance all over the fretboard and keep it from sounding too self-involved. For that we are grateful. Fans, you need to judge for yourself which side of the sky you will float upon.

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(12 tracks – 67 minutes)

Jeff Monk


Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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