This post is part of our Psych 101 program, an in-depth, 14-part series that looks at the impact of psychedelia on modern music. Want to sign up to receive the other installments in your inbox? Go here. Already signed up and enjoying it? Help us get the word out by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter or just sending your friends this link. They’ll thank you. We thank you.
Celebrating pivotal moments in rock history is a congested, clickbait racket these days, but if there’s any one album truly worthy of reverence, it’s the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s mighty 1967 debut, Are You Experienced. Seriously—its release was nothing less than a BC/AD kind of event. In addition to articulating an astonishingly new understanding of heaviness, it opened up exotic vistas in feedback, echo, delay, and studio-as-instrument experimentation (legendary reggae producer Dennis Bovell even believes that the brain-liquefying “Third Stone From The Sun” is the first dub track). Indeed, nothing like The Experience had ever existed before—not Cream, not The Who, not The Yardbirds, not Link Wray, not Johnny Burnette and The Rock and Roll Trio.
Hendrix’s countless innovations loom over rock’s evolution, but instead of trotting out the same tired mix of mainstream guitar heroes as proof of his profound influence—e.g., Eddie Van Halen, Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Slash, etc.—we’ve opted to honor his sonic radicalism with a playlist charting his sweeping impact on the evolution of out sound: This includes proto-metal, Japanese psychedelia, German experimental rock, jazz fusion, avant-rock, stoner metal, sludge, and beyond. After all, just about any band or artist pushing the limits of maximum distortion and sweaty groove action within a rock, jazz, or blues context owes Hendrix no small debt. This is equally true of late-’60s long-hairs Blue Cheer and MC5, ’70s fusion explorers Miles Davis and The Tony Williams Lifetime, and modern-day noise weirdos Skullflower and Fushitsusha.
Prepare to commune with your inner mind, as our playlist is packed with lots of extended freak-out jams and third-eye lysergia. Sonny Sharrock’s nearly 10-minute “Promises Kept,” from his 1991 masterwork Ask The Ages, bursts into a frenzy of amplifier-scorching fire music, but there are also a lot of fist-pumping riff ragers to jam out to: Fu Manchu’s “Mega-Bumpers” is a deliciously fuzzy, funky slab of ’70s spliff rock filtered through shaggy, Dogtown-skater cool.
One thing you can be sure of, by the playlist’s end, you’ll be able to answer the question “Are you experienced?” with a big, resounding YES.