Jimi Hendrix – Kiss The Sky

A new decade, a new Hendrix

By the early 1980’s, it was clear that the legacy of Jimi Hendrix was ready for a serious reboot. Alan Douglas, who had been in charge of the Hendrix estate since the mid ‘70s, decided that the time was right to issue yet another compilation designed to appeal to a younger audience. At least that was the theory. Certainly the track selection was eclectic. Rather than taking a more predictable approach, i.e. “Hey Joe,” “Wind Cries Mary,” and “Foxy Lady” etc etc, Kiss The Sky focuses largely on several lesser known compositions, something which older fans and serious collectors would have been dribbling over.

From Hendrix’s 1967 debut, we have “Are You Experienced?,” “Purple Haze,” and the sci-fi inspired “Third Stone From The Sun,” a nod to early ‘60s surf music, and whose main riff was borrowed by drummer Cozy Powell on his popular chart hit “Dance With The Devil.” Jimi’s second LP is represented by “Castles Made Of Sand,” while “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Crosstown Traffic” and the classic “All Along The Watchtower,” from Electric Ladyland, also make an appearance.

However what made this album worth owning was the inclusion of “Red House,” that contained a few extra seconds of studio chatter at the beginning, a then previously unreleased version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” recorded at The Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967, as well as a spirited live rendition of “I Don’t Live Today” captured at The San Diego Sports Arena on 24th May 1969.

But the real treat for fans was a remixed “Stepping Stone” from the original 1970 Band Of Gypsys single, an underrated gem from the latter period of Hendrix’s career.

Digitally remastered from the original master tapes, and issued on premium 150-gram vinyl, Hendrix had probably never sounded better, by 1984 standards, making it an essential buy for audiophiles of the time.

So, why should anyone wish to own a copy? That depends on how much of a fan you are. The sound quality is indeed superb (Joe Gastwirt mastered the tapes), while the unedited “Red House” and early version of “Stepping Stone” have yet to be re-released, which means that many Hendrix fanatics (sorry, scholars) will likely own a copy, if just to hear those few extra seconds of banter at the beginning of “Red House.”

Kiss The Sky is an oft forgotten assemblage, and a fine attempt by Douglas to revitalise the Hendrix legacy during a period when most people were listening to Simple Minds and The Thompson Twins.

Now usurped by far superior compilations, Kiss The Sky is one for the anoraks, and obviously collectors alike.

One comment

  1. There are some who love Alan Douglas and those who hate him for what he’s done to the Hendrix legacy over the years to decades etc with countless releases until the family got hold of the rights and releases etc. Having gone to Hendrix’s grave in Seattle whilst on our journey to visit my sister in Vancouver I was surprised to sign my name under Eric Burdon and Johnny Winter. Walking in to the cemetery my mum and I were greeted by nuns who knew exactly why I was there. Dad stayed in the car as he wasn’t a Hendrix kinda guy but it got me diving in to a lot more albums once we got home and the malls we hit I pillaged the record shoppes for anything Hendrix I didn’t have and came home with a metric ton of cassette tapes of all the post Hendrix albums that Douglas had put out and this album Kiss the Sky was one of them. This was played to death and re-bought 3 times over as I wore it out and by the time I ended my Hendrix obsession at the tender age of 16 to which now I just enjoy his music for what it is and not some war cry to teenage angst crusade along with my Morrison/Doors obsession I think even my walk-mans all hated hearing this album but it is truly one of those compilations that you just have to have, kinda like owning Song Remains the Same, a brutal pastiche of an album but you owned it regardless. Sometimes it’s albums like this that aren’t really necessary that become your go to album for certain musicians and artists. You fall under some sort of magical spell because you feel special and outside the box because you aren’t just following the herds of commoners who just buy the best of because that’s what your soul dictates, no, you have to have that album that was released in Germany as a “best of” or just a compilation of music with a few extra seconds of a song or banter on it or because it wasn’t your typical best of track listing. Yes this is essential to have and hold and to play when you want to hear Jimi make his sounds heard at times. Even with the far vast and massive box sets out now I still have found myself reaching for what one knows best in heart and sound and for the want of something different… Kiss the Sky

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