Axis: Bold As Love
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||November 30, 1966
Jimi Hendrix's second album doesn't resonate through rock history the way its gatecrashing predecessor, Are You Experienced?
, does. In places, it almost seems as if Hendrix is cruising, albeit sublimely. Yet it's a vital album, containing some of rock's molten milestones. There's the fluid psychedelia of "Castles Made of Sand," the viciously funky "Little Miss Lover," and the so-beautiful-it-hurts "Little Wing." Hendrix really hits altitude with "If 6 Was 9," where he waves his "freak flag high" over a tidal wave of guitar and a cacophonous army of Moroccan flutes, and he ends with "Bold As Love," based around Hendrix's typically far-fetched hankering for the axis of the planet to be tilted, thereby transforming life on earth. It works up into a head-melting frenzy of distorted guitar, a precursor to the staggeringly expansive leap forward he would take with 1968's Electric Ladyland
. Hendrix dreamed the impossible and achieved it on his guitar. --David Stubbs
Tracklist of Axis: Bold As Love
Mellow, relaxed, poetic, terrific
Jimi Hendrix's 2nd album is the most over looked album of his 3 Experience albums. It's a shame, considering it's just as good as AYE? and Electric Ladyland. His guitar playing is great throughout and Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding play well throughout as well. This album has a more mellow and relaxed feeling compared to AYE?. This is evident on the jazzy "Up From The Skies", which features great brush work from Mitch, the great "One Rainy Wish", and the beautiful ballad "Little Wing" with some lovely guitar, and a great Glockenspchiel part, which Hendrix plays himself. The poetic "Castles Made of Sand" features a great rhythm pattern and backwards guitar. There still is some louder rock, the furious funk of "Little Miss Lover", and the physcadelic rocker "Spanish Castle Magic. "If 6 Was 9" is truly fantastic. Here, Jimi sings about his difference from the common man, and plays some awesome guitar, and a strange sounding (but still great) battered recorder, which he bought off of a street vendor for 2 shillings. Bass player Noel Redding gets a song on here, the great english rock sounding "She's So Fine, which he wrote and sings. "Bold as Love" is a terrific ending to the album, as Hendrix plays some great guitar and sings about colors representing feelings. Then builds to a crescendo of fantastic guitar playing. So, overall, this is a great album with lots of great playing. It was ranked #82 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. I highly recommend it.
Psychedelic Experimentalism Music run rampant......
Jimi Hendrix was always one of the most (if not) gifted guitarist of his generation. But before his went on to write defining songs such as "Crosstown Traffic", "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe", "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", he was almost on the verge of become an international star, and although there were a great many ideas, as to what direction to take his music into, they needed to be shepherded into some kind of order. his album would find Jimi in far more experimentive form, than his later albums, almost willing to play with a great many forms of electrified guitar genres, before becoming more focused on later work.
On this album, Jimi shows himself to capable of creating gently textured songs, that are more more quietly melody based than his later work, with almost gentle pastoral songs, and wirlling psychedelic-soul of "Up from the Skies", occupying a floating ambience, not usually associated with his work. "Spanish Castle Magic" moves closer to Epic multi-layered, crunching guitars (similar to "Crosstown Traffics") of something like 'Led Zep', but embued with a slightly surrealistic edge, that Jimi was to go on to be known for. "Wait until Tomorrow", bears witness to some incredibly solid rhythm and blues, that uses the otherworldly dynamic of this album, to really show his growing confident mastery of both studio & instrument. "Ain't No Telling" dips its toes into compelling jam heavy electrified-Blues, immediately showing Jimi's eagerness to covers as many cosmic spectrum of sounds, as possible, it's amped up extraterrestrial blues, brought into sharp focus with rhythmic drumming confidently riding alongside, the passionate riffing.
"Little Wing", is the musical equivalent of psychedelic stoner-rock, done through the eyes of a exceptionally talented guitarist, who bring his inventiveness to bear on such intensely fluid material. Remarkably the journeys into other forms of electrified guitar music, even extend as far as Psychedelic-Funk (P-Funk), with the fuzzed-out, grooveadelic riffs and rambunctious free-wheeling sounds, that sound (instrumentally-wise) not a little unlike 'One Nation under a Groove' era "Funkadelic", that 3/4 of the way into this track morphs into a freeform Rock Wig-out, with dramatic/Carefree ambitions. "You Got Me Floatin", is a taut, and bullish number, with the use of the wah-wah pedal, propelling the track onto some form of earthly axis, delving into extravagant and indulgent impulses of guitar work, working together into a technically staggeringly expansive body of work, that edges nearer to progressive-rock, even thought it a short track at 2 minutes 45 seconds. "Castles made of Sand" is arguably the most well-known track on here, and deservedly so, with a fine line in ambient rock, with light guitar plucking and a surprisingly complex mix of avant-garde jazz sensibilities, classical minimalism, ambient and space music, this is arguably Hendrix at his most restrained and remains a exquisite piece of music, constructed with more thought and emotion, than almost anything he would later go onto the create....in fact this form of gentlee music would be revisited in "Electric Ladyland's", exceptional avant-garde ambient track: "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)". Changing tack slightly is the is the Hi-energy chorus led Blues-rock of "She's so Fine", (which was penned by Noel Redding), is beautifully high octane and overflowing with creative energy, that merely serves to highlight Jimi's outstanding use of rhythm and space.
"One Rainy Wish", marks a shift into subtle rhythm & Blues, pulling together into a almost fractious battle between quiet/loud dynamics, as sections of the relatively uplifting melodies, are occasionally interrupted by bursts of riff-heavy rock, coming through the sound. "Little Miss Lover" uses layers of ultra-groovy, hard-edged Funk with fancy lead guitar riffs so confidently, that had Hendrix decided to go musically, down the path of "Funk" music, he would have most likely been one of it's most revered artists., such is the complexity and skill displayed here. Album closer "Bold as Love", remains a remarkable track to bow out the album on, with it's Blues-Rock emphasising, the traditional, three-chord blues song and instrumental improvisation, but filtering the sound with a psychedelic edge mixed with loud amplification from rock & roll, it, yet the Ballad-esque approach works wonderfully within the context of the track, and possibly one of the most sincere moments on the album.
Few would argue that this is a truly stunning album and worthy of 5 Stars, and this also finds Hendrix arguably working in some of his most experimental set of songs, and the whole album is something of a textural masterpiece, shifting from psychedelic experimentalism one minute, to a mood that is in parts calm fragments and reflective dissonance, introspective looking and yet remarkably calming and serene, but then shifting tack again and then sounding tightly wound and monstrous epic via way of being almost, thunderously loud. Those that are looking to start building a Jimi Hendrix collection (like me), and aren't content to settle with just a 'Best of' album....should be (slightly) warned, because as remarkable as this album is, it has to be strongly recommended that you start with "Electric Ladyland" & "Are you Experienced?", as the first two choices to begin with. As they best encapsulate what Hendrix's music eventually evolved into. Once you have those albums and indeed are curious for more of his work, you'll be hard pressed to find fault with the early experimentation & creative identity expressed here (if you listen closely a couple of songs/ideas/riffs, get reworked/reinterpreted into later albums), this exceptional album is Hendrix at probably his most personal.
Rock Icon's Overlooked Second Chapter
Jimi Hendrix's sophomore release may not have been as explosive as ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?, or as lavish as ELECTRIC LADYLAND, but AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE certainly packs an impressive wallop of it's own. Although "Little Wing" supplies the album with it's resplendent signature tune, there's plenty of other tasty rock n' roll treats scattered throughout. Heavier on funk and groove, this album boasts a more pronounced soul and r&b influence than before on "Wait Until Tomorrow," "Up From The Skies," and the strutting "Little Miss Lover." However, the incendiary "Spanish Castle Magic" and "If 6 Was 9" could easily go toe to toe with Hendrix's previous psychedelic hard rock anthems as they shake the foundations with nasty fuzzed-out riffs and blazing guitar pyrotechnics. And, as usual, there's a multitude of mad-scientist-like production flourishes (underwater guitar and back-masking to name a few) to keep any listener on their toes. Hendrix was certainly the consummate artist, and although not as many revere this particular album, there's still plenty of evidence here to prove why Jimi was such a rock n'roll heavyweight.