‘Electric Ladyland’ is one of the great rock masterpieces and must surely rank with ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Sgt. Peppers..’as albums which may not have defined an era but in retrospect contain some of the finest moments from that time. Forthose who don’t know, this was the album with a Hendrix seated on a throne surrounded by naked women spread across the gatefold double album. One of the many areas, this fascinating addition to the Classic Albums series, clears up is that the nudity was never Hendrix’ idea and he was horrified at the new (UK only) softporn cover. The archive footage featured includes sort-of videos for ‘Gypsy Eyes’ and ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ rescued from short sequences performed for television spots – ‘Burning…’ is notable for a tremendous 12string flyingV, but little else, while ‘Gypsy Eyes’ with its fast editing could still be played on MTV2 today. The sketchiness of some recollections is compounded by the lack of proper interviews with Hendrix but this is a problem, which would frustrate any biographer, visual or otherwise, luckily Buddy Miles, Redding, Mitchell and Chas Chandler (in his last ever interview) are all on hand to offer their insights.
The core of the program explores the studio approach as recollected by original engineer Eddie Kramer and Chas Chandler as they manipulate the multitrack master tapes, where harpsichord, twelve string and even combandpaper are combined to great effect. Sadly, Chas’ interest faded when Hendrix,having recorded the prewritten material, moved into mere vague ideas for songs. Sadly the tale of the fourteen minute epic ‘1983, A Merman I Should Turn to Be’ gets no more than a two second mention as only Hendrix himself could have justified its merits.
While there are no real extras here if you have seen the documentary, however those who haven’t (and it may be a long time before it is repeated) should definitely investigate both the album and this DVD. Who says bands need a year to record their masterpiece? ‘Electric Ladyland’ was done in three months. 9/10