Jimi Hendrix: Musician
Keith Shadwick
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Buy *Jimi Hendrix: Musician (Compact Reader Edition) (Backbeat Reader)* by Keith Shadwickonline

Jimi Hendrix: Musician (Compact Reader Edition) (Backbeat Reader)
Keith Shadwick
Backbeat Books
272 pages
November 2012
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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This scholarly look at Hendrix's music provides a sense of Jimi Hendrix's growth as a musician, following him closely from the moment he first picked up a guitar through his untimely death. It accurately charts all of the guitarist's various bands, projects and recordings. It is in the analyses of each track on every record where the book fails.

Shadwick, a professional journalist and musician, approaches Jimi's music in an erudite manner breaking each track down into lyrics, harmonic content, solos and arrangement. He has taken a lot of time and obviously listened to the music hundreds of times, but his interpretations are off-base.

Some of the comments he makes about Hendrix's The Cry of Love album are so ridiculous that it's almost as if he wasn't even listening to that exact album. On "Angel," one of the guitar player's most profoundly beautiful ballads, Shadwick comments, "Hendrix delivers a strangely self-pitying vocal performance that is devoid of any of the feelings of excited discovery and desire that had sustained his earlier demos of this ballad." Whether Jimi's performances on demos were better or worse, his vocal on the final track is haunted and beautifully moving. The author seems too intent on scholarly discourse when he should be concentrating on the emotional impact of the song.

"Straight Ahead," another song from The Cry of Love, is a great rocker and a dazzling display of guitar licks. But Shadwick says, "The song, which shifts between a minor and major feel, has an imbalance between the lengths of the various verses and pre-choruses from which its incomplete arrangement cannot save it." Is he listening to the same song as everyone else? Many songwriters will double up on a second verse, and what Jimi has done is simply expanded the second verse. Incomplete arrangement? There are verses, chorus and solos.

The author says that "'In From the Storm' is not a huge step to Led Zeppelin." This song bears about as much resemblance to a Zeppelin song as a piece of toast. He also says, "This is perhaps the closest Hendrix ever came to out-and-out heavy rock." What were "Purple Haze" and "Manic Depression"?

Many of Shadwick's observations are obviously built on his own feelings about Jimi's songs. That's fair enough. But some of the comments just hold no water. Still, this is worth reading to understand where Jimi came from musically and where he went.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2013

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