Are You Experienced?
Released in Europe: May 12, 1967
Released in U.S.: August 23, 1967
Peak: 5 US, 10 RB, 2 UK, 15 CN
Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.1 UK
Genre: classic rock
Tracks (European release):
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Tracks (U.S. release):
4.728 out of 5.00 (average of 29 ratings)
Quotable: “One of the most stunning debuts in rock history, and one of the definitive albums of the psychedelic era.” – Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“Seattle-born former paratrooper James Marshall Hendrix worked the back-breaking chitlin’ circuit playing guitar with the likes of Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. But to turn into a star, he had to go to England, where he joined forces with bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell.” TL
“The trio’s debut was an unprecedented barrage of joyful noise.” TL Not only was it “one of the quintessential statements of psychedelic rock” NRR and “one of the most groundbreaking guitar albums of the rock era,” NRR but “one of the most stunning debuts in rock history.” RU Hendrix did “things with a guitar that no one ever dreamed about trying” CT and in the process “redefined and expanded the sonic possibilities of the electric guitar (strung upside-down for this left-handed virtuoso), while the propulsive rhythm section heightened the attack.” TL His “playing, while strongly rooted in the blues, also incorporated a variety of jazz influences and a uniquely personal vocabulary of emotive guitar feedback and extended solos.” NRR
As “the most rock-oriented of Hendrix’s official studio releases,” CD the album’s “distorted metallic edge…made…[it] a particular favorite among rock and heavy-metal guitarists.” CD
“Are You Experienced? “released just before Hendrix returned to the U.S. from London to play the Monterey Pop Festival, established him not only as a supersonic marvel, but as an innovative and sophisticated composer.” SP The album “unleashed Jimi Hendrix onto a world in the midst of such cultural and musical shakeups that it really didn’t seem as ‘far out’ as it actually was.” BA
“It was his mind-boggling guitar work, of course, that got most of the ink.” RU By “building upon the experiments of British innovators like Jeff Beck and Pete Townshend” RU and “using radical new techniques in feedback and distortion,” CS Hendrix broke “through the barrier between innovation and enormous commericial success” TM and, in the process, knocked “Clapton and Townshend right off their guitar-god pedestals.” SP
“However, “it wasn’t just Hendrix’s virtuosic skill as a pure player that was so impressive; it was, even more, the range and scope of sheer sound that he coaxed, cajoled, and ripped out of his instrument.” BA The album “allowed a few different things to happen in the context of rock.” CT “Its influences are incredibly diverse.” CD “Hendrix synthesized various elements of the cutting edge of 1967 rock into music that sounded both futuristic and rooted in the best traditions of rock, blues, pop, and soul.” RU The album also featured “psychedelic frenzy…instrumental freak-out jams…[and] tender, poetic compositions” RU and “opened the door for Hendrix and his mixture of funk and rock” CT and “gave jazz a chance to be heard in a more mainstream format and allowed rock fans to appreciate it.” CT He himself “once described the album this way, ‘It has a little rock ‘n’ roll, and then it has blues and it has a few freak-out tunes.” SM
“What made Are You Experienced? more than a mere instrumental novelty was the strength of its songs…that sound as revolutionary and as far beyond category today as they did the day they were recorded.” TL By blending “his gut-wrenching guitar playing and introspective lyrics,” SP Are You Experienced? “established Hendrix as a singer-songwriter.” CD He “demonstrated the breadth of his songwriting talents” RU and “his Dylanesque vocals and spacey imagery make each tune a little gem.” CD
“Not to be underestimated were the contributions of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding” CS who “blast away with a barely controlled fury” CD and “ who gave the music a rhythmic pulse that fused parts of rock and improvised jazz.” CS
“The Wind Cries Mary”
“Red House” and “Can You See Me”
“I Don’t Live Today”
“May This Be Love”
“Third Stone from the Sun”
“Are You Experienced?”
Hendrix “would continue to develop at a rapid pace throughout…his brief career,” RU but later become “arty, long-winded and, in the long run, rather screwy. Here he just revels in his newly-found studio freedom.” GS “He would never surpass his first LP in terms of consistently high quality.” RU “These songs pound, smash, crack, whirl, cringe... they’re totally unbelievable.” GS “Hendrix casts a mystical spell” SP on Are You Experienced?, which “remains one of the greatest and most important debuts in rock history.” CS
Notes: The European release, which preceded the U.S. release by three months, had a different track listing, as indicated above. When the album was reissued in 1997, the European and U.S. releases added bonus tracks. Both versions had the same songs, but in different running order.
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First posted 3/21/2008; last updated 8/22/2021.