You read the headline correctly. Even though Jimi Hendrix has been dead for 43 years, Legacy Recordings is still able to find previously unreleased material. This most recent album, People, Hell & Angels is a follow-up to the 2010 release, Valleys of Neptune. Although, any new releases are valuable to Hendrix fans, People, Hell & Angels is an impressive collection that shows what Hendrix may have accomplished had his career not been cut so short.
Experienced listeners can confirm that Hendrix displayed a large variety in his music, and this album is no different. From the quick-paced, groove-driven tracks such as “Earth Blues,” “Crash Landing,” and “Inside Out,” to the smooth, gentle “Hey Gypsy Boy,” this album showcases Hendrix’s talent in multiple contexts. Two tracks, “Let Me Move You” and “Mojo Man,” are particularly interesting because they feature saxophones, brass instruments, and separate vocalists. These songs gave an idea of what Hendrix would have sounded like if he were actually in a band, rather than supported by one. With so much going on in these two songs, the guitar is less dominating, and the resulting music is similar to that of James Brown.
While all 12 of these tracks are previously unreleased, Hendrix fans will recognize a few of them. “Hear My Train A Comin,’” “Bleeding Heart,” and “Izabella” have appeared on other albums, but People, Hell & Angels features alternate takes of these tracks that never got released, until now. “Hear My Train A Comin’” is fairly well known and has been recorded by Hendrix in several incarnations, including an acoustic version on the album Blues. The song is over seven minutes long, with much of that time devoted to instrumental improvisation. Those who know the song will love to hear Hendrix play around with the riff that’s been heard so many times. Also, although under a different name, “Hey Gypsy Boy” is essentially an alternate version of “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun),” but it goes in a very different direction by the end of the song.
Although this album is fantastic, it’s easy to see why some of these tracks never made it onto Hendrix’s other albums. “Somewhere” and “Izabella” were fun to listen to, but sounded very experimental. Both of these songs sounded like Hendrix walked into the studio with an idea, and then played around with it while the recording gear was turned on. The result is interesting, but not exactly radio-friendly.
As an avid Hendrix fan, I think People, Hell & Angels is amazing and enlightening. Even the more experimental and improvisational tracks show what Hendrix was trying to do creatively, and how his music would have progressed, had it been given the chance to do so. To the fans of Hendrix or bluesy rock music, the tracks on this album provide the chance to hear one of history’s most influential guitarists playing material that hasn’t been heard before.
As much as fans will love it, this album would likely be less interesting to those who are unfamiliar with Hendrix. For those looking to get into Hendrix’s music, I would recommend Are You Experienced or Axis: Bold as Love. Having heard music from these two iconic albums will provide the foundation to fully appreciate the music found on People, Hell & Angels.