Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
This is finally it. After an unbroken string of new records, box sets, and compilations that has spanned six decades, on March 9th, the well of unreleased Jimi Hendrix studio material will finally run dry with the offering of new album Both Sides Of The Sky. It’s an unparalleled achievement, and a testament to Hendrix’s work ethic that we’ve managed to go for so long enjoying new pieces of music crafted by the guitar wizard so many years after his death. Sadly, it’s just a fact that all good things must eventually come to an end.
Both Sides Of The Sky is the third entry in a trilogy of albums packed with mostly unheard studio cuts that began with Valleys Of Neptune in 2010, and continued with People, Hell And Angels three years later. This latest release, fittingly, collects material from Jimi’s final years inside studios around New York City, working with a wide range of different artists like Stephen Stills and Lonnie Youngblood. Most of the tracks feature one or both of the members of his acclaimed Band Of Gypsys, with his old Army pal Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on guitar, and for the most part, reveal a funkier, more R&B-inspired sound that diverged from his early, psychedelic leanings.
As with every new release, Both Sides Of The Sky gives us another chance to examine Hendrix as an artist, and marvel at the sheer breadth of his genius. Whether that means busting out a sitar for the song “Cherokee Mist,” slapping on a bass for a tasteful cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” or kicking up the phase pedal on the funky and melancholic instrumental “Jungle,” there are so many different dimensions to what he can do, and so many different, tantalizing clues offered about where he might have gone had he lived past his 27 years.
To get a clearer picture of where Jimi Hendrix was at in his final years I interrupted his friend and engineer, the legendary Eddie Kramer, as he was hard at work refurbishing the famed El Mocambo Club in Toronto, and talked about the process of recording this material and polishing it up for release so many years later. As the namesake for this column — he’d never heard of the renowned 1977 Led Zeppelin bootleg that was named after him, but was definitely intrigued — it was a special thrill indeed.