I was 15 years old when "Electric Ladyland" came out. The original British cover spoke to the teenage heterosexual in a manner that was very direct, and perhaps more so than any other album cover of its time. And the music wasn't bad! I originally had the American version with Hendrix on the cover. No way or in fashion would the British cover be allowed in the American market at its time. If it was one naked lady, then that may have passed, but to have a dozen or so, on the front and back (fold out) cover, that is clearly a no-no. Reportedly Hendrix hated the British cover. In my teenage mind, I thought this was very much the lifestyle of Hendrix. Perhaps the cover was taken in his home or bedroom. It wasn't, but to a 15-year old, the fantasy outlives the reality.
The music on this album is superb. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was progressing from the first to the last album, which to me, is "Electric Ladyland." I never bought any albums after his death, because I felt the unfinished work was not meant to be heard because Hendrix couldn't give its proper blessing due to his untimely death. "Electric Ladyland" is both looking back, but very much a forward album. Here, he works with other musicians and the music is more of a bigger canvas than the first two Hendrix Experience albums.
Hendrix without a doubt is a genius guitar player, but he is also a fantastic arranger, lyricist, and record producer. Technically an Experience album, but apparently Hendrix is thinking like a solo artist here. The dreamy side of him such as "And the Gods Made Love" (goes with the British cover in my opinion), "Rainy Day Dream Away," "1983.." are all impressionistic paintings set to music. One cannot separate the visual aspect of Hendrix, not only in his dandyism but also the colors that reflect in his music. My favorite Hendrix song "The Burning of the Midnight Lamp" is perfection. Psychedelic but holding on to the melody if life was about to be stamped out. A great record, a great single. Or was it ever a single?
"Electric Ladyland" is a very sophisticated album. When I first initially heard the album back in 1968, I felt it was opening up to new avenues, and I was excited to follow that Hendrix road. His death was a major disappointment to me because I felt he would have gone on to make very interesting sounds. And I have to add the importance of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell in the band. In fact, Mitchell as a drummer is simply amazing. More jazz-like than rock n' roll. Mitchell's professional life as a musician sounds incredible. From having a rifle pointed at his head by Joe Meek to working with Jimi. How perfect is that?