Top 25 – Jimi Hendrix

After much debate, I decided to go with Hendrix this week. If I have to tell you why I’d want to do a list on Jimi, I’m not sure what I can do for you. I can tell you this–no one has ever been farther ahead of his time in his prime than Hendrix. To this day, he is universally considered the greatest guitar player ever. That’s based on a mere four years worth of recorded material.
That’s amazing. And he was a bad man before he went solo. For an example, please look out for the Isley Brothers’ “Testify.” Fantastic stuff.
Anyway, to the list we go.

(Note – I am avoiding live performances with one exception. Basically, because there are so many bootlegs and things out there, I can’t sift through ’em all. So you won’t see “Sunshine of Your Love/Voodoo Child” from Winter Wonderland, dope though that may be.)
Albums will be listed. Some of my listings may be wrong, but feel free to look on for any need to double check.
25.Love or Confusion (Are You Experienced?). Hey Jimi, it could have been a third choice–shawty was just CRAZY. Goodness, I gotta get this jadedness in check.
24.Castles Made of Sand (Axis: Bold As Love). A Kirk Deming favorite. A Bo Jones favorite, also. It’s not fair how easy Hendrix makes playing the guitar seem.
23.Moon, Turn the Tides… (Electric Ladyland). You’ll find I’m partial to slower, dreamier stuff from Jimi. Nine minutes worth of goodness.
22.Freedom (First Rays of the New Rising Sun). Also really big on blues-based smokers.
21.Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland?) (EL). Listen to the guitar playing. Does it even seem like he’s trying to do anything in particular? I don’t understand how someone can be that technically proficient and so loose at the same time.
20.Manic Depression (AYE). Jimi says manic depression’s a frustrating mess. From what I’m told, that would be correct.
19.Angel (FRNRS). Great cut. There’s also a really good live version that appears to be acoustic. Changed the lyrics on there, too. Great stuff.
18.Dolly Dagger (FRNRS). Sounds like “Purple Haze” on acid in a lot of ways. Yeah, like acid on more acid.
17.Born Under a Bad Sign (Blues). Found this on a blues compilation. This one gets my mother to black out. Left to her own devices, my mother would never turn the station from NPR (she really does like the blues, though). Either way, the NPR set doesn’t tend to black out, dig?
16.Third Stone from the Sun (EL). Just an instrumental track. The problem with that–being just an instrumental made it easy for Right Said Fred to lift a significant portion of this song for “I’m Too Sexy.” Yep, that guitar solo is really Jimi. If you put your hand on the ground, you can feel him doing barrel rolls in his grave.
15.Waterfalls (AYE). Is Mitch Mitchell the most underrated drummer of his era? He’s dope on this one in such a subtle way.
14.Long Hot Summer Night (EL). As I listen to this right now, it’s hard to ignore just how influential Jimi was on Prince. Not just as a guitar player, but as a singer.
13.Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) (FRNRS). Off the underrated posthumous release First Rays of the New Rising Sun. It’s his worst record, but that’s like saying ATLiens is the worst OutKast record–still dope as hell.
12.Little Wing (ABAL). I feel like this should be higher. Dunno why, but I do. Great writing.
11.Purple Haze (AYE). One of those that gets points for historical significance. Not really the best cut on the first album–which you’ll find dominates the top of this list–but definitely the most recognizable. It smokes, though.
10.Are You Experienced? (AYE). The source of the wah-wah pedals that start the Pharcyde’s “Passin Me By.” To me, this is only less underrated than “Bold is Love.”
9.1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) (EL). I love each of this joint’s 13 minutes. Weird as hell, though. “Well it’s too bad/that our friends/can’t be with us today/the machine/that we built/would never save us/that’s what they say…” Doesn’t always make sense to me, but Jimi was off on some stuff I wouldn’t consider smoking.
8.Fire (AYE). Is this song used more in car commercials than any other? “Move over Rover/and let Jimi come over/yeah, you know what I’m talkin’ about.” And this was totally ad-libbed in the studio, from what I read in the liner notes of a compilation.
7.I Don’t Live Today (AYE). Kind of a spooky suicidal joint, but it’s blazing hot fire. Unlike most, I prefer to album version to the more widely distributed live version.
6.If 6 Was 9 (ABAL). This should be played to all those NBA dress code haters. “Go on Mr. Businessman/you can’t dress like me.” And the businessman is mad as hell about it, jack.
5.Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (EL). There are about eight songs that use a similar title, but you know which one this is. Playing rhythm and lead on the same cut. Great vocals. And it knocks like nobody’s bidness.
4.Machine Gun (Band of Gypsies). Check the version of Band of Gypsies. One of the great what-ifs in this world is, “what if Band of Gypsies would have played together for about ten years?” Their album from New Year’s ’69 is inconsistent, but “Machine Gun” is an all-timer.
3.Bold as Love (ABAL). Did this whole color metaphor thing that could have easily been corny and turned out beautifully. “My yellow, in this case, is not so mellow/in fact, I’m trying to say/it’s frightened like me/and all of these emotions of mine keep holding me from/givin’ my life to a rainbow like you.” Also some of the best arranging and drumming of the catalog. Oh yeah, and how it crunks back up outta nowhere at the end. And the crazy use of surround sound. He’s Jimi, baby.
2.Hey Joe (AYE). Were Jimi a rapper, the misogyny of this song would get more play. But since he’s not, it’s just said that killing women is part of the blues’ tapestry. Hypocrisy for $200, Alex. All that aside, this is another song that shows how subtlety is what makes Jimi a great guitarist. It’s not about how quickly his fingers move or anything like that. It’s about how his solos never take away from the song and never leave the groove. That’s something you can’t say about Clapton and many other competitors to the throne.
1.All Along the Watchtower (EL). Here’s why this one has to win. When you cover a song–one from a legend, at that–and the person that originally performed it starts performing your version instead of his own, you have showed your entire ass. That he converted Dylan’s version of this into what this is, another how-to on arranging, is enough to get the top spot.

12 thoughts on “Top 25 – Jimi Hendrix”

  1. It’s funny you did the Hendrix list today. I just put “Are You Experienced?” in the truck for today’s soundtrack.
    Has their been a stronger debut album ever?

  2. Would you welcome an honorable mention list? …of songs left out, that should be included.
    In no particular order:
    Ezy Rider, 51st Anniversary, Crosstown Traffic, Stone Free, Foxey Lady, Hear My Train a Comin’, The Wind Cries Mary, Highway Chile, Izabella, Spanish Castle Magic, and finally… (drumroll)
    The Star Spangled Banner — (I know, that’s to easy, but it is the most inspired live performance I’ve ever heard of that song–including Marvin’s version at the ’84 NBA playoffs.) And who can forget Carl Lewis’ version.
    By the way, “Little Wing” is NOT in the Top 5? Hmmm…
    Here’s a couple of trivia facts for you… I found this out when trying to search in vain for the album version of Machine Gun one day. It is spelled “Band of Gypsys.” Also, there is no “Waterfall,” it is actually named “May this be love.” Just in case any peeps wanted to search for it!
    Anyway, great list. I hope you don’t mind me adding to it! Got my iPod set to All-Jimi/All-Day!
    Good catch on “May This Be Love.” I’d always wondered why I could never find “May This Be Love.” I’d always download “Waterfalls.” Baba is not that bright. Good suggestions, too.

  3. Now I finally got my commenting ability back, Whew Hoo!!! And I don’t have anything important to say–I know most of us White folks (e.g. my father) love Hendrix, but that Star Spangled Banner song is the only one I know. Damn, why couldn’t this be an artist I know now that I can comment agains. LOL!

  4. You may not list the Top 25 songs by Jimi Hendrix and omit Foxy Lady.
    YES YES YES, I forgot “Foxy Lady.” Y’all happy now? Huh? Huh?
    No really, that was my big mistake.

  5. Man, Jimi had a lot od soul, and he did a lot of new and hip things with electricity wood and wire. But, in terms of playing the guitar, It’s hard to say he’s the best because thats a the type of value judgement that you like to make to spark dialogue. However it seems odd that so many people piggy-backed on your claim. One might consider old school cats that perhaps had more complete guitar technique or musicianship like Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery on up through today’s John Mclaughlin (killin’ cats for 40 years), Allan Holdsworth (Coltrane and Chick Corea on the guitar), and Pat Metheny (taught jazz guitar grad students when he was 20). And that’s only the jazz players. One can’t omit flamenco masters like Paco De Lucia (stupid on the guitar) and the list goes on. Whilie Hendrix was able to make powerful statements through sounds and songwriting, I’m not prepared to go with him being the best guitar player ever. As for being ahead of his time, I don’t know, perhaps Lenny Breau. Plenty of cats out there won’t even have a time to be ahead because they play music that’s less accesible than Hendrix. I don’t know what your criterium is; if being able to make people feel music is high on the list. Often there is a limit to “rock” guitar players wich is also “pop” guitar players. I don’t know man, I rant. Guess I just want to put some real cats’ names out there. Stay up.
    Two things. First, WillieThePimp knows way more about any of this than I do, so check out his selections. Second, it’s entirely that WillieThePimp will turn out to be stronger than some of those cats he listed. Kid’s a bad man on the guitar.

  6. Ever notice there have been no major black guitar players since Jimi? I tend to think Jimi was so intimidating that every black rock guitar player since him is compared to him, and if they’re “No Jimi Hendrix” they are looked over. Certainly there are several white guitarists who are “No Eric Clapton” – even “no John Denver”.. Are black guitarists not being encouraged? Do guitar stores lock their doors when they see black people coming?

  7. Amanda, no offense, but there have been MANY. Perhaps you should visit a record store… or maybe YOU’RE being locked out.
    Bo Diddley, BB King, John Lee Hooker, George Benson, Earl Klugh… oh, were you wanting mainstream? Vernon Reid, Wyclef Jean, Tracy Chapman, India.Arie, Prince, all four dudes from Dakota Moon, and one of my current favorites “Tom Morello!” …and countless others…
    …and who can forget Tito Jackson! (OK, that was tongue-in-cheek.)
    You know, Tito really wasn’t bad. And as for Morello, has anyone ever checked out his story about being Jomo Kenyatta’s nephew? Just don’t sit quite right with me.

    1. Try playing behind your back, between your legs, around your head, AND then finish the rift by playing with your TEETH. now stfu, gtfo and watch jimi preform at monetary pop festival

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