As we well know, Jimi Hendrix's death in 1970 has hardly been an impediment to his catalog. In fact, various minders of the legendary guitarist's estate have, since then, made him more prolific than a vast number of current – and living – acts. Some have been dodgy, but since his family gained control and established Experience Hendrix, the product has at least been interesting and of both generally high quality and historical import.
“People, Hell and Angels” is no exception; though this particular exercise in vault-trawling seems a bit random at times, it does give us a valuable 12-song sampling of what Hendrix was up to after the Jimi Hendrix Experience came to an end and he began working with an array of other players, most notably the rhythm section of Billy Cox and Buddy Miles (though Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell plays on three of these tracks).
Hendrix was clearly after a purer version of the blues, dropping the psychedelia of his three Experience albums on the likes of “Earth Blues,” a powerful early take of “Hear My Train A Comin,'” a cover of Elmore James' “Bleeding Heart” and “Somewhere,” the latter of which features Stephen Stills on bass. “Izabella,” which Hendrix played at the first Woodstock festival, shows he hadn't lost his trippy touch. However, while the fiery instrumental “Inside Out” features flavors of previous hits such as “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).”
But the album's most ambitious moments are “Let Me Move You,” a free-spirited, nearly seven-minute jam with saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood, and “Mojo Man,” a collaboration with Harlem vocal duo the Ghetto Fighters that's decked out with horns and keyboards, a psychedelic funk workout that shows how exciting Hendrix's future could have been – and a reminder of how tragic his death really was.
Jimi Hendrix 'People, Hell and Angels' Rating: W W W W