I was going to choose Axis: Bold As Love, but on reflection I realised that this album, although it’s a compilation, actually has far more of the tracks I really love, which were mainly the Jimi Hendrix ballads.
Back in the days when Jimi was out there doing it, most people tended to think of him as some kind of wild man that had to be caged between gigs. He was a guy caught up in his own image.
“But there was this other side to him, and for my money Hendrix was always at his best on the slower, more reflective stuff. He’s often just as explosive as a guitar player, but the depth of emotion he reaches, the sheer spectrum of sound he conjures up, is absolutely breathtaking.
There are many examples of this – amazing stuff like The Wind Cries Mary, Hey Joe, Little Wing, all of which are on this album. For me the epitome of all that is Red House. It’s simply the best 12-bar blues I’ve ever heard. It smoulders with restrained sexual power, and it doesn’t let up from the beginning until the very end.
One of the other great things about it is it’s a live feel caught in studio conditions. One of those dream moments come true which we all, as artists, try to achieve. You go in the studio and try and make it like you’re playing live. Well, Hendrix completely pulled it off and captured it with Red House.
And of course, these songs all bring back the most tremendous memories for me. Hey Joe was a hit just as the band I was in, The Wild Flowers, were planning to come down to London for the first time, and it was a very inspirational record for us.
When he followed that up with The Wind Cries Mary we were now in London, and again it just blew us all away. It was almost like a Ray Charles type thing – a complete surprise; absolutely mellow and yet so deep. Same thing with Little Wing; it’s so sensitive and tender it almost hurts.
I like to do Little Wing when I play with my solo band, and I go into another mellow favourite of mine at the end of it: Angel. The two go together absolutely perfectly, so sweet and dirty at the same time. For a so-called wild man he had an incredibly gentle touch. I mean, he’s up there in the clouds with it, man.
And there are at least half a dozen more tracks just as good on this album. I’m not a great fan of compilations – generally I prefer the originals – but this one really is something special.