Jimi Hendrix, ‘People, Hell & Angels’ – Album Review
If weâre to believe âPeople, Hell & Angels,â the latest in a long string of posthumous albums by Jimi Hendrix, its dozen previously unreleased tracks were the building blocks to the late guitaristâs follow-up to âElectric Ladyland,â his final album with the Experience.
But weâve heard this claim many times before, from âFirst Rays of the New Rising Sun,â the 1997 LP that reconstructs the album Hendrix was working on when he died, to various albums, box sets and compilations that feature leftovers from the era.
Thereâs not even much thatâs entirely new on âPeople, Hell & Angelsâ; most of the tracks have been released in one form or another on posthumous projects over the years â from âEarth Bluesâ (first released on 1971âs âRainbow Bridgeâ in a more fleshed-out take) to âInside Outâ (which would evolve into the bootleg fave âEzy Ryderâ).
Recorded in 1968 and 1969 with primarily Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, who would make up Hendrixâs post-Experience trio Band of Gypsys, the cuts on âPeople, Hell & Angels,â like so many albums that have been released since his death in 1970, are more skeletal frames of songs than actual songs. Thereâs plenty of fancy guitar work and creative ideas planted here, but few tracks boast the mind-bending studio tricks Hendrix experimented so wildly with on âAxis: Bold As Loveâ and âElectric Ladyland.â
Still, completists will dig some of the albumâs offerings. The stripped-down âEarth Bluesâ reflects its title. âLet Me Loveâ features a saxophonist. A cover of Elmore Jamesâ âBleeding Heartâ comes from Hendrixâs first session with Cox and Miles. And âIzabellaâ was recorded with the band Hendrix played with at Woodstock.
But âPeople, Hell & Angelsâ isnât revealing like âFirst Rays of the New Rising Sun,â âSouth Saturn Deltaâ and âValleys of Neptune,â the best posthumous Hendrix albums. Hendrix is basically being Hendrix on the 12 tracks, effortlessly tearing through guitar solos and working up bluesy shuffles that most likely would have been discarded or altered by the time he was finished with them. This is mostly the guitar legend finding his post-Experience footing.