This is it, the greatest album of "rock" music ever to be released. (Phew!)
I say that, because it is difficult to think of any other album by an artist in that field which comes close to the richness, the scope, and the mastery that runs through this awesome musical experience. We're not just talking "greatest guitarist" here, it's important to understand that the man's music goes far beyond that. This album is also a majestic display of songwriting, arrangement and production.
The album is crammed full of sumptuous works such as the complex "Gypsy Eyes", "House Burning Down", "Long Hot Summer Night" and the cool jazzy blues "Rainy Day ..." which in it's reprise "Still Raining .. ." transforms into a devastating rock guitar workout. Note that Jimi's friend Buddy Miles (the drummer with The Electric Flag, who later played an important role in Jimi's evolution) plays on those "Rainy Day" tracks.
The title track is a beautiful soul ballad sounding like Curtis Mayfield, which segues into the tough rock/rap of "Crosstown Traffic" (a successful single in the nineties thanks to it's use in a jeans commercial).
To broaden the sound, Jimi brought in Stevie Winwood (Spencer Davis Group/Traffic) and Mike Finnegan on keyboards, Al Kooper on piano, Chris Wood (Traffic) on flute, Freddie Smith on saxophone, Larry Faucette on congas, and Jack Casady of The Jefferson Airplane (who occasionally guested on stage with the band) plays bass on the terrific slow blues "Voodoo Chile". On the unbelievable last track "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" Jimi takes the blues to its outer limits. The song seems to capture everything that Jimi was about. It became a Hendrix standard and was a British Number 1 just after his death (surely the most intense piece of music ever to top the singles charts).
On vinyl Side C is "1983...", Jimi's cosmic "sound painting", which even the likes of Pink Floyd never managed to equal in my opinion. The band's fourth UK single "Burning Of The Midnight Lamp", of a year earlier, is included on the album which is surprising as, in the sixties, singles were not normally put on UK released albums (it was the US B-side of "All Along The Watchtower" which had been released a month earlier than this album).
"Little Miss Strange" is another Noel Redding composition, and there are the brilliant cover versions of Earl King's "Come On - Part One" and Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" which was the band's fifth UK single release at the same time as the album. It features Dave Mason (Traffic) on acoustic guitar and Brian Jones on percussion.
Jimi's remarkable reading of "Watchtower" was so good that it became, like with "Hey Joe", the definitive version and is generally considered as the best ever cover version of a song (recently voted as such, for example, by the music critics of Britains Daily Telegraph).
In an interview with Douglas J. Noble (Univibes), Nils Lofgren reckoned that Side D of "Ladyland", is probably the best side of an album that there has ever been. I think he was right. Nothing else was going on in rock (or jazz) that equalled this level of perfection in 1968 and not a lot, if anything, has matched it since.
Jimi had been very disappointed with the final product of the first two albums, so for the American edition of "Ladyland" he made sure the tapes were better transferred to vinyl. His relentless quest for perfection in putting all this together took its toll on relations within the band. Chas Chandler soon quit, leaving to Jimi the task of putting together all the endless takes. He made a superb job of it. A rift was also growing between Jimi and Noel who quit the band about eight months later.
Label: Experience Hendrix – 88697 62398 1, Legacy – 88697 62398 1
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Repress, 180 Gram
Style: Blues Rock, Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Hard Rock
A1 ...And The Gods Made Love
A2 Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
A3 Crosstown Traffic
A4 Voodoo Chile
B1 Little Miss Strange
B2 Long Hot Summer Night
B3 Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)
B4 Gypsy Eyes
B5 Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
C1 Rainy Day, Dream Away
C2 1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
C3 Moon, Turn The Tides...Gently Gently Away
D1 Still Raining, Still Dreaming
D2 House Burning Down
D3 All Along The Watchtower
D4 Voodoo Child (Slight Return)