Klinger: I’ve said in the past that artists’ big statements tend to garner the most attention. And here we are, Mendelsohn, covering our fifth double LP. By my math, just under one quarter of the albums we’ve examined have required two slabs of vinyl and a gatefold cover suitable for separating seeds and stems. And every one of them, at one point or another, has been described by some critic somewhere as “sprawling”.
But there’s the rock & roll rub—boring, generic suburbs are also described as sprawling. So are winos. The backlash against these albums is practically built right in. And so with the 22nd album on the Big List, we’re once again asking the question: is Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland a bridge too far? The tight, structured feel of Are You Experienced? has been replaced with 16-minute jam sessions (“Voodoo Chile”) and sound effects widdley-woo (“. . . And the Gods Made Love”). Does this retooling of the Hendrix sound still work?
Mendelsohn: In a word: no. I’m usually the first one to go to the word sprawling. But for me, “sprawling” indicates a monotony of sameness. Electric Ladyland is a mish-mashed fuster cluck of ‘60s rock music. An ADD-riddled trip down memory lane. A hit-and-miss package of shoddy production values and even shoddier songwriting by a tiny, British, bass-playing imp who had the gall to ask the Jimi Hendrix to play lead on some sub-par Brit-pop drivel.
I mean, it’s Hendrix, so he’s got a pass from me, carte blanche, but this record is completely devoid of rhyme or reason. Except for the 16-minute “Voodoo Chile”, which is just awesome. He should have just stuck with that. You want a big statement? How about an album where all of the songs clock in around a quarter of an hour and feature two five-minute guitar solos apiece.