“When I listen to ‘Hear My Train A Comin’, it feels almost ghostlike,” she says, squinting into the California sun on a hotel patio. “It’s so deep south of the universe and filled with the blues. When we transferred the tapes, my heart got so full I started to cry.”
The song in question is one of 12 studio tracks that make up “People, Hell and Angels,” out Tuesday, yet another outpouring of unreleased music from the prolific guitarist. Experience Hendrix, the corporate entity led by Janie, 51, has over the past decade issued archived music whose bulk now far outweighs the three-album burst that preceded Hendrix’s death in 1970 at age 27.
What makes this album intriguing is that it captures Hendrix — who liked to roll tape whenever he was noodling around — in an exploratory mood. Recorded in 1968 and ’69 by engineer Eddie Kramer, the songs feature Hendrix as he was pushing beyond his collaboration with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, his British bass-and-drum cohorts in the seminal Jimi Hendrix Experience.
On “Somewhere,” we hear Stephen Stills sitting in on bass, while “Let Me Move You” features a guitar and sax duel with an early Hendrix mentor, Lonnie Youngblood. One particularly funky track, “Mojo Man,” was laid down at fabled FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., by twin vocalists Arthur and Albert Allen, known as the Ghetto Fighters, who then shipped the tape to their old friend so he could add his distinctive touch.
The rest of “People, Hell and Angels” — a title pulled from reams of lyrics and writings that fill the recently published “Jimi Hendrix: The Ultimate Lyric Book” — is anchored by Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums), who would later back the guitarist at Woodstock in the summer of ’69 and record a live album with him at the very end of the year as the Band of Gypsys.
The trio’s powerful musical shorthand comes alive on “Hear My Train,” in which the trippy lyrics and hooky riffs of Hendrix’s Experience work, typified by “Purple Haze” and “Fire,” give way to straight-ahead blues.
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