Compelling Collection

Arts and Entertainment

“Both Sides of the Sky” completes rock legend’s unreleased trilogy 

By Alexandra Lachine, Arts and Entertainment Editor

4/5 stars 

HendrixatWoodstock_guitarhiveCOM
(Image from guitarhive.com)

The late rock legend Jimi Hendrix still manages to make waves in the industry with the release of yet another album. “Both Sides of the Sky” echoes across 13 previously unreleased studio outtakes from 1968 to 1970, channeling a level of disparity in the last of Hendrix’s known work and his final months of life.

The late rock legend Jimi Hendrix still manages to make waves in the industry with the release of yet another album. “Both Sides of the Sky” echoes across 13 previously unreleased studio outtakes from 1968 to 1970, channeling a level of disparity in the last of Hendrix’s known work and his final months of life.

BothSidesoftheSkycoverart_jimihendrixCOM
(Image from jimihendrix.com)

The vault clearing began in 2010 with the release of masterpiece “Valleys of Neptune” followed by “People, Hell and Angels” three years after. 

Although third and final (for now) vault volume “Both Sides of the Sky” dabbles with songs and fragments found in more fully developed versions, it still offers plenty of thrills as Hendrix produces some of the most iconic, otherworldly solos in rock history. 

The rise of digital music streaming in the eight years since the release of the first vault volume of this series means that the best bits of “Both Sides of the Sky” are ready to be examined more closely. On “Mannish Boy,” adapted from its original version by Muddy Waters, a funky vamp-style ringing guitar echoes into a molten melody.

“Hear My Train A Comin'” is powered heavily by blues as Hendrix conjures themes of American mobility, redemption and doomed romance.

Hendrix embellishes upon the vocals of friend Lonnie Youngblood for slow-rolling track “Georgia Blues.” Track 11 is an early version of “Woodstock,” with Hendrix backing up Stephen Stills on bass instead of guitar.

The legend experimenting with guitar feedback howls is delightfully crafted for seven minute track “Cherokee Mist,” yet unpleasant kicks from an electric sitar do not compliment the song’s vibe well.

One of the brightest gems on the album is a haunting recording of “Send My Love to Linda” that dates back to January 1970. This twelfth track captures Hendrix playing a skeletal, minor key-riff before exploding with the pyrotic guitar tone that made him famous, along with a sort of lyrical loop as Hendrix answers his own phrases.

Longtime Hendrix fans may or may not like some of these “new” versions of songs, which is OK. A few tracks stretch the definition of unreleased material.

“$20 Bill” and the aforementioned version of “Woodstock” both feature Stills on lead vocals, with Hendrix sitting in on guitar and/or bass. There’s an interesting symmetry in hearing Hendrix play the sideman again, especially so close to the end of a legendary solo career.

What makes this compilation worthwhile is that technically, this is previously unheard music. While not of the full caliber of the music Hendrix released in his lifetime, the album includes material from some of his very last studio sessions, offering a glimpse at a transitional phase in his work and in rock history.

Almost 50 years after Hendrix’s death, his enduring guitar tone remains a marvelous pleasure.