The best parts of PEOPLE, HELL AND ANGELS feature Jimi Hendrix lending his voice and guitar to the songs on this collection without a lot of extra instrumentation intruding. Although there seems to be some restraint to Hendrix's playing, it should be remembered that a lot of the archival selections on PEOPLE, HELL AND ANGELS were works in progress or experiments. Fans familiar with Jimi's soaring lead playing during jams and solos in live performances will recognize the groove right away, and be able to differentiate it from the repetitive but memorable licks in the riff and motif driven songs (Purple Haze, Burning of the Midnight Lamp, etc.) that made Jimi Hendrix famous.
In no sense is PEOPLE, HELL AND ANGELS a 'lost' Jimi Hendrix album. It's more like a mini anthology of largely lesser known songs that show what Jimi was trying to do when he stepped out of the confines of playing and recording with the Experience.
Several of the numbers chosen for PEOPLE HELL AND ANGELS have been heard in different forms on other posthumous releases. Hear My Train a Comin' Bleeding Heart, Izabella and Crash Landing are among these. I expect that the studio version of Hear My Train a Comin' with its Experience-like rhythm and structure will be a standout track for many listeners.
Buddy Miles, Billy Cox, and Mitch Mitchell are among the backup musicians who surface on the 1968 and 1969 recordings that were picked for PEOPLE, HELL AND ANGELS. There are also a couple of numbers that feature Hendrix in background mode with saxophones, brass, and even a guest vocalist (Lonnie Youngblood, in whose band Hendrix had once played) taking centre stage. By the way, Let Me Move You--the collaboration with Youngblood--sounds a lot better than any of the Jimi-as-sideman songs featured on Disc 1 of the WEST COAST SEATTLE BOY boxset.
The booklet that comes with PEOPLE, HELL, AND ANGELS includes detailed, track by track background information, but several of these entries are diminished by careless grammatical errors. There are some good photos in the package, too, although the often dark-toned artwork used conveys an element of gravitas to the time trip this album represents.
PEOPLE, HELL, AND ANGELS is what it is. Those who bought albums like WAR HEROES and the British only LOOSE ENDS back in the day--and enjoyed them--will likely welcome this latest tribute to the talent of Jimi Hendrix and the musical territory he traversed.