As we near the end of 1967, the psychedelic one-upmanship continues with the second album from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Axis: Bold As Love”. Continuing to push onward in every direction, this album is rated as #92 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time.
As big of a Hendrix fan as I am, I may not rate this album with quite the same high regard. There are certainly many classic Hendrix moments on this record, some of which may be less familiar to the casual listener. That said, there are enough tracks that don’t quite pull me in, so I see it as a notch or two below his remarkable debut album earlier in 1967.
The highlight of the album for me, is the beautiful song “Little Wing”. For everything caustic, intense and electrifying Jimi created with his Fender Stratocaster, this song represents his core ability to write, sing and perform a moving and gorgeous song minus his otherwise-impressive histrionics. This song rates up with “Red House” and “Fire” from his debut album as my all-time favorites.
“Spanish Castle Magic” is a great song on the first side, as is the funky “Wait Until Tomorrow”. Side One closes with “If Six Was Nine”, one of his best cosmic jams. Like the first album, the drums from Mitch Mitchell consistently stand out, and Noel Redding even takes a lead vocal on “She’s So Fine” on Side Two. Other favorites on Side Two include the hopeful “Castles Made of Sand”, and the closing title track, which blends the slow burn with building intensity to close out “Axis: Bold as Love” in a phenomenal manner.
As I may have said before, of all the artists we lost too young, I really wonder a lot about what more Jimi Hendrix could have done with the guitar and music as technology and style advanced. An incredible pioneer, he remains one of the most legendary rock guitar gods ever, well beyond the fiftieth anniversary of his short but spectacular career.