Jimi Hendrix -- Electric LadylandSince I own around 10,000 records, CDs and cassettes (yes, I know I have a problem), picking the record that changed my life is not an easy task. Was it my parents Beatles albums, which I spun ad nauseam throughout my childhood? Was it the first cassette I bought with my own money, Billy Idol's Don't Stop EP? Was it the homemade tapes of Handsome Clem Carpenter's Search & Destroy show, which my friend Dylan and I used to create massive antennas out of tin foil so we could pick up the faint WAIF radio signal on our boom-boxes to listen? The influence of all of these on me is undeniable, but if I have to choose one album, it is Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland.
I came across this album in 1986 on my first trip to New York City. I was digging around a music store in Times Square and my fellow guitar fiend, Jay Erisman, suggested I pick it up. Quite simply, it blew my mind ... and still does. This album came out in 1968, and no one has yet to come close to the raw experimentation, virtuoso playing and sheer tunefulness packed into this recording. Most people are familiar with the Electric Ladyland tracks "Crosstown Traffic" or Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," but you really need to hear "Voodoo Chile," one of the most amazing live Blues recordings ever caught on tape, and its sister track, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," which is a stunning display of raw musical energy. My personal favorites are the rhythmic Soul romp "Gypsy Eyes" and the dynamically drugged out "1983 ... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)." The one drawback of Electric Ladyland is that it makes you want to play music; unfortunately, I broke my arm at the beginning of the summer of '86, and I found out it is really hard to pick a guitar with a cast on your arm.
BUCKRA (buckra.com) next performs in Cincinnati on July 22 at Arlin's in Clifton.