Electric Ladyland is the third and also the final studio album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the final album released prior to Jimi Hendrix’ death in the year 1970. It was the only record from the band that was produced by Hendrix and it was also the most successful commercially. It reached top spot in the US and number six in the UK, and it remained on that chart for twelve weeks.
The album contains the cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower and Voodoo Child (slight return) which are two of Jimi Hendrix’ most famous recordings and the album is now considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
Electric Ladyland is held in high regard now, but at the time, the album did face some criticism. It was described more than once as lacking structure and the guitar playing was described at times as heavy handed.
So, what’s the correct assessment? Is Electric Ladyland “mixed up and muddled” as it was described by Melody Maker? Or, is it a rock masterpiece?
Let’s find out.
Electric Ladyland #1 …And the Gods Made Love
I’m going to find it very hard to discuss the Electric Ladyland opening track because while it is a track, it’s not a song or a piece of music as such. I’ve heard this before whilst on shuffle mode back in the iPod days, but never really understood its purpose. I guess it’s some form of intro type thing, but I can’t say much more than that except for that it sets out an intention that the following will be an experience rather than simply a collection of songy songs. This track tells us that we’re about to listen to something that is interesting at the least.
Electric Ladyland #2 Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
The opening experience is followed by Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) which is a dreamy ballad like piece that’s the polar opposite to what we heard before. This contrast of sounds works very well in my opinion. The vocal performance on this track is soft and sensual and the rhythmic accompaniment is simply very Jimi Hendrix in sound. The instrumental part about halfway through is just the right amount of psychedelic and the performance is very controlled yet somehow, completely unrestrained at the same time. This isn’t a song that feels tightly structured but that’s not a bad thing. This is free and deep, expressive music and a sign of things to come.
Electric Ladyland #3 Crosstown Traffic
We abruptly move onto track three next with the carnage and bombardment of one of my favourite Hendrix tracks, Crosstown Traffic. I love talking about guitar solos and all that stuff but the thing I love most about this track is the mix. Every single part of the mix is an eargasm, especially the vocals and also that panning, just brilliant. Crosstown is a short track which makes me sad because boy did, I want more of this. Instead, the track opts to end early with a long fade out. I normally aren’t a fan of fade outs but when they’re done well, like it was here, they work. The ending gives the track a raw jam session feel to it. Won’t be the last time I mention that in this piece. Oh, look what’s next.
Electric Ladyland #4 Voodoo Chile
Voodoo Chile is the less popular older brother of a more famous track that we will get to later. This is a long recording, clocking in at fifteen minutes but for any self-respecting blues, Hendrix or guitar fanatic, fifteen minutes just isn’t anywhere near enough. It’s hard to describe Voodoo Chile as anything other than music perfection. This music infects me quicker than Covid. It makes love to my brain and it possesses me like some demon straight out of a horror film. Words don’t do the guitar performance justice, so I won’t bother, I’d be here all day. I must give a special shoutout to the organ performance and the drums performance too. This certainly isn’t just the Jimi show. Every performance is stunning from top to bottom. For any musicians out there, this is the end goal for you and for everyone else, you must listen to this before you die.
Electric Ladyland #5 Little Miss Strange
The impressive but admittedly fatiguing Voodoo Chile paves the way for a welcome sub three-minute track in Little Miss Strange which is impressive in an entirely different way. It does a lot well and it brings many different sounds together into one impressive song. It’s an experience of sounds that at times, sounds like a Beatles track that would be more than at home in their impressive catalogue and at other points, it sounds like a jam. One thing that’s constant throughout though is the quality of both the guitar playing and the guitar tones. If you’re looking for a fun exploration of lead guitar, this one is for you. Oh, and the little tempo decrease at the end? Awesome.
Electric Ladyland #6 Long Hot Summer Night
That opening guitar riff though. Long Hot Summer Night is indicative of everything that’s right with this album and Jimi’s music in general. It’s laid back, it’s free, and it’s expressive. The way that the guitars and the main vocal melody work together at times is a Mozart level of impressive in my opinion. If I tired to do this, in fact, if anyone else tried to do this, they would fall flat on their faces. It would sound a total mess, but Jimi is a master. That master status is supported again in this track with a guitar performance that is at points, top of the mountain level.
Electric Ladyland #7 Come On (let the good times roll)
We’re taking a trip to rock n roll city next with Jimi’s cover of the Earl King track Come On (let the good times roll). The original version of this song is an impressive piece and I say Jimi Hendrix more than does it justice here with his fairly true to the original cover. Truth be told, it’s a performance that one would expect but if I had to be a complete **** (which I am so I will be), I’d say that at certain points, the guitar can sound a little harsh but this is in your face loud rock n roll so who cares? This cover has the guitar front and centre and we all know what Jimi can do with the instrument so there’s no surprises in how impressive the lead playing is.
Electric Ladyland #8 Gypsy Eyes
Gypsy Eyes is another Hendrix track that I’ve always been rather fond of. There are so many things about it that enjoy. The driving beat that’s persistent throughout, the guitar supporting the melody, the mix, fiddly and nifty little riffs, I could keep going, so I will. The harmonies, the effects, the dynamic range, the exceptional lead guitar performance. Are you getting the idea yet? This is very much a track that experiments with sounds. The fade out is a little abrupt but as far as experiments go, this is up there with, I don’t know, some particularly impressive science experiment. I studied music, what do you want from me? Also did you notice? There is an odd mistake in there and they were left in! Amazing right?
Electric Ladyland #9 Burning of the Midnight Lamp
The opening of this track is beautiful, and I very much enjoy the fact that it returns later. Side note, I bet you didn’t know that Whitney Houston’s mother was a part of the backing vocals on this track? You learn something new every day. Oh, and for those that already knew this little fact, don’t bother emailing me and telling me about your extensive music knowledge. I won’t reply because I don’t like you. So, my feelings toward you are the same as my feelings towards this track. There’s nothing here that grabs me and draws me in aside from the aforementioned intro. I enjoy the lead guitar also, but the track as a whole is a bit of a miss for me. I can’t put my finger on it. It may even be the mix. All I know is, Burning of the Midnight Lamp is a track that didn’t resonate with me. It felt a bit messy and pointless. Just like the guy who was about to email me telling me about how he already knew about Whitney’s mom. Get a life dude.
#10 Rainy Day, Dream Away
If you’re tastes in music are anything close to mine, you’ll surely enjoy Rainy Day, Dream Away. This track feels like three and a half minutes of a jam session and I love it. It’s a raw and expressive performance. It has a real smooth bounce to it and it’s one of those tracks that’s easy to get lost in. It takes over you, kind of like Voodoo Chile does. I guess you have to like this sort of thing to appreciate it so I guess it’s marmite in a way, but I definitely enjoy the taste and the cherry on the cake is that dirty wah heavy guitar that appears at the end.
#11 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)
Rainy Day, Dream Away leads into this next musical adventure with the grace of, well, some animal that’s graceful. I studied music, not animal husbandry. We’ve another post ten-minute track here but this isn’t a straightforward blues jam like Voodoo Chile was. This is a daring track that takes the listener on a journey of sounds. There’s a lot of individual elements here so I won’t list everything that this track does but know this. This track will make the next thirteen and a half minutes of your life incredibly deep and enjoyable if you allow it to. There are too many individually cool things to shout out in this track so just listen to it an experience it. It really is incredible in places, guitar parts especially.
#12 Moon, Turn the Tides….Gently Gently Away
I’m in two minds about this track. This isn’t a song or a musical experience. It feels to me more like a decompression from the previous mammoth. In the context of the album, it gives my brain a break but if you were to isolate it, it’s pointless. Relaxing few seconds of sounds, nothing more nothing less. A nice little intermission but not significant enough for me to reach my one hundred minimum word quota for each track. Wasn’t far off though. I reckon I can get there if I ramble on for just long enough. Dam it! Oh, wait…
#13 Still Raining, Still Dreaming
Still Raining Still Dreaming is another piece of music that’s let’s say, out of the box. This isn’t a bad thing. It can be, but not when Mr Hendrix is involved it seems. There’re parts of this track that shouldn’t work but for some reason, they do. It’s like watching a magician and wondering “how does he do that?” This track isn’t laid back and relaxing like some of the other stuff in Electric Ladyland. There’s a tension to it but for some reason, I feel addicted to the tension that it creates. It grips me and pulls me in and suddenly, I’m trapped. Just like when a storm stops me from leaving the house.
#14 House Burning Down
Oh yes, the sound of that opening guitar! Perfection achieved in the intro. The intro then moves aside for a cool groove and solid marching beat. That cool groove and solid beat sit behind a fun track that tells a story that hooks me in and also, yet another virtuoso guitar performance that creates a sense of jeopardy and danger which fits the narrative nicely. I enjoy House Burning Down but I can’t help but get a nagging feeling that I think we could have gotten more from this. I think it resolves well and does what it needs to do but yeah, I think I wanted more from this one. Not a bad thing necessarily but I feel like I’ve missed out on something.
#15 All Along the Watchtower (cover)
Next, we have the penultimate track of the Electric Ladyland album. The Jimi Hendrix transformative cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. A recording that easily slides into the top three of Jimi Hendrix’s most iconic tracks and there’s a reason for that. The reason is that it’s bloody brilliant in every way from start to end. As for the guitar playing, well, this is pretty much as good as it gets. A truly electrifying performance. Then there’s Jimi’s delivery of the vocals. His best performance in that regard? It’s certainly up there at the very least. Bob Dylan has put it out there that he actually prefers this cover to his own version. That about says it all.
#16 Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
We’ve now reached the final track of the Electric Ladyland album with Voodoo Child (slight return). The little brother of Voodoo Chile which every guitar fanatic (and every Hulkamaniac) knows very well and another track that’s synonymous with the name Jimi Hendrix. Is this the best guitar intro of all time? I can’t think of a better one. In fact, I’d even goes as far as saying that the guitar playing throughout the track could be considered the best of all time too. This is the pinnacle my friend. That guitar oozes expression and passion. Dominant, commanding, and proud. What a way to close an album.
And what an album Electric Ladyland is. I can’t recall many times that I’ve been sad that an album has come to an end. Come to think of it, I don’t think that’s ever happened to me. I guess I can understand some of the criticisms that were made about this album though because it certainly won’t be to everybody’s taste. The average music listener can’t just put this on at a random point and get lost in big hooks and sing along songs. It runs deeper than that to me. If you’re in the mood for verse chorus verse chorus bridge guitar solo chorus chorus, go listen to something else. If you’re interested in a dangerous and risky musical experience/adventure that pushes boundaries and takes you to places that you haven’t been before, listen to Elextric Ladlyland. It’s a rollercoaster and I want to keep riding it over and over again…
…Like your girlfriend.
That concludes my review of Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix. Looking for more reviews? Take a look at the below articles which include a review of one of my favorite Jimi Hendrix tracks of all time.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.