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  • Cory Shane
    April 16, 2022
    A fantastic package and fitting tribute for this legendary album’s 50th. Imo, the original dbl LP in this box is, to date, the best vinyl version ever made available. The bonus dbl LP gives some nice insight into the creative process by which Jimi evolved his songs as well as a taste of some songs he worked on that didn’t make the final track sequence (another fantastic Exp. Hendrix release that gives the listener a great look at song evolution as well as outtakes from both Axis and Electric Ladyland is “Noel Redding - The Experience Sessions.” While those are Noel’s tunes, Jimi ‘worked them up’ amazingly with his guitar overdubs and the album leaves one with a strong impression of just how talented a writer, arranger, instrumentalist and all around tunesmith-musician Noel Redding was. I think if “Noel Redding - The Experience Sessions” had not already been released, some of those tracks would have fit very well in this box set. Noel Redding - The Experience Sessions, a criminally overlooked official Experience Hendrix album. Fans: track it down. Exp Hendrix/Sony: How about a reissue of that one?). The Hollywood Bowl show is interesting but not a stand out performance or recording. I would have preferred more ELL studio material personally and seen the Hollywood Bowl show given a stand alone release on Dagger Records. Having it in this box does feel a little bit like “filler,” but I’m not complaining much about it as I’m happy to see it released at all at this point, just not sure this box was the best place for it. The highlight of the box imo though is the new 5.1 mix! This mix is absolutely killer! Brilliantly executed by Eddie Kramer and I believe as close to what Jimi was hearing in his head and would have wanted the album to sound like in 1968 had technology permitted. Kramer, very tastefully and masterfully uses all 5 surrounding speakers (front left, front right, front center, rear left, rear right) to their best effect on every song. After hearing the 5.1 mix, I’m convinced this is the best and purest way to experience Electric Ladyland. If you have a 5.1 system properly set up, I would recommend this box set for that disc alone. Not only is it the best sounding version of Electric Ladyland to date, it’s maybe the best sounding 5.1 mix of a rock album to date (I suspect this is because Hendrix and Kramer created this album with a singularly three-dimensional sound in mind, so it naturally lends itself to the format in a way most other rock albums don’t. AND THANK GOD Eddie Kramer is still alive and flowing to handle these mixes for us as nobody else would have a better idea as to what Jimi would have and did want to hear when making this album. Eddie Kramer doing the 5.1 mix, to me, not only hit a home run with it but he also- by virtue of being Jimi’s closest partner in the studio throughout his career- fully legitimizes this mix’s existence and takes any notion of it being a novelty, a gimmick, a trend or somehow distasteful, off the table. I believe Hendrix would be blown away and proud to hear what Eddie has done with his album with this mix in particular and I bet he’d feel this mix is as close as ever to what he hoped to achieve in 1968 with his very progressive use of stereo sound. It’s all about being faithful to Jimi’s vision for this album- which brings me to my main complaint about this box set, and for me it’s a big one- They didn’t put Jimi’s intended album cover on the actual Electric Ladyland sleeve inside the box. This is either a glaring oversight, a type of laziness or a plain bad-wrong decision- perhaps a combination of all those things more or less. Imo, the OUTER box should have had the classic, original US album cover (orange photo of Jimi’s face) on it, then, WITHIN the box, the 50th Anniversary remastered dbl LP of Electric Ladyland should ABSOLUTELY have been housed in a high quality, tip-on sleeve with Jimi’s explicitly stated and sketched out cover art on it. It would have finally righted a wrong done to Jimi and his album after five decades and given us fans the album sleeve that should have been- faithful to Jimi’s original vision- FINALLY! Us fans would finally be able to hold in our hands the object that Jimi intended for us to hold and look at while listening to the album. What we have now is a big, blown opportunity to make something that honors Jimi’s vision for Electric Ladyland fully by finally faithfully seeing to completion the aesthetic and sonic ideas he worked so hard at and felt were VERY important to achieve. Both sonically and visually, Jimi was hugely let down domestically and abroad with the release of ELL. He was angry, frustrated and saddened by his tirelessly crafted and finely tuned work being essentially butchered by the labels that made the art, mastered the album for vinyl and released them with no regard for his wishes or artistic vision. So where and when better to amend these issues than within the 50th anniversary box set bersion of the album? They got the audio portion right but the album sleeve correction would have made this version of ELL, sonically and visually, the most faithful and pure version to ever be produced. I’m frankly baffled by the decision to put the cover he wanted on the outer box but not on the album sleeve as he had always wanted. Even from a marketing standpoint it would have made more sense to me to put the eye-catching cover everyone is familiar with on the outside of the box then, on the back of the box, where the box contents would be shown, one would see that the ELL album proper has Jimi’s own original cover art on it- making it uniquely appropriate for the anniversary and a unique version of album that may make someone who’s on the fence about purchasing another copy of ELL decide to buy it just for that exclusive album jacket alone. I still hope Experience Hendrix will release the album with Jimi’s intended cover art as a standalone record someday. This really needs to happen. It would be a perfect Record Store Day release! Anyway, as much as the album cover issue bothers me, the musical contents of this box are fantastically presented. Everything sounds great and it’s well curated. I take a star and a half off out of 5 (if I could) for the blunder with the album art but I HIGHLY recommend this set for the music and audio quality.