Axis: Bold As Love
Caught between two undisputed rock cornerstones, Hendrix's second album is his most focused and song-oriented — all things being relative of course. Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell hit on an intoxicating mix of psychedelic rock, strutting soul, and proto-metal. For all of the accolades heaped on Hendrix over the decades, his skills as a songwriter often seem under-appreciated, and Axis might be the best example of his lyrical talents — a fusion of classic R&B-style posturing and bizarre, Dylanesque stream-of-consciousness imagery. "Spanish Castle Magic," "If 6 Was 9," "Castles Made of Sand," "Bold As Love" and the surprisingly gentle "Little Wing" each rank among his most rewarding compositions. That said, the freaked-out R&B grooves of tracks like "Up from the Skies" and "Wait Until Tomorrow" are quite appealing, reminding us of Hendrix's prowess as a funky rhythm player.