Friday, June 15, 2007

40 Years of Experiencing Jimi Hendrix!

40 years ago this weekend, Jimi Hendrix returned to America to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival after having moved to England. The audience was blown away.

Amazingly, I could possibly argue that that wasn't even the best performance of the festival. Witness Ravi Shankar!

I've noticed lots of folks obvserving the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is a good album and all, definitely changed the game, but I think you kinda had to be there to believe the hype. Maybe it's the too-obvious signifiers of psychedelia, maybe it's the knowledge of all the ill-conceived rock operas, concept albums and prog rock that followed it, but Sgt. Pepper seems particularly dated 40 years later. I was born about a year after, and I think if you ask most music fans my age or younger their favorite Beatles album, you're more likely to get the later masterpieces Abbey Road or "the white album" (the sprawling ecclecticism of the white album, which most likely was seen as a weakness at the time, seems like its strength in the age of Beck) or the earlier albums Rubber Soul and Revolver, which layed the groundwork for Sgt. Pepper. I probably even like Magical Mystery Tour over Pepper. It has "I am the Walrus," and "Blue Jay Way" slays "Within You Without You."

For that matter, I kinda prefer the Stones' own Sgt. Pepper ripoff, Her Satanic Majesty Requests. Not their best work, but they bring an edge to the psychedelic stuff that keeps it from sounding too flowery. But, getting back to my point, from my vantage point, 1967 is best represented by Are You Experienced? (and The Velvet Underground & Nico, which was actually recorded in '66 but took a while to get released). Those are the albums that changed the way music sounded (for the better) forever, and they still sound as good today. After those albums, my favorites from '67 are The Mothers' Absolutely Free and Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Ya know, if you're wondering. No disrespect to "The End," "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Rabbit" or "I Can See For Miles" intended. Or Janis, or Aretha, or...


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