WPI professor weighs in on ‘new’ Hendrix LP

Ken Davidoff/Authentic Hendrix LLC
Jimi Hendrix Experience performing at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival.

Like a lot of other music fans, Joel Brattin was transfixed the first time he heard Jimi Hendrix.

A humanities professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Brattin was an 11-year-old boy when the guitarist’s first album, “Are You Experienced,” was released in 1967, and he’s been a big fan ever since.

Such a fan, in fact, that Brattin, who teaches British literature, has taken students to London to study Shakespeare — and Hendrix. (The London flat where Jimi lived in 1968 has been turned into a museum.) Brattin is also reviewing “Both Sides of the Sky” — the new, much-hyped posthumous Hendrix LP — for UniVibes, an international journal devoted to all things Jimi whose readers are a seriously discerning bunch.


“I’m writing for specialists, which means I’ll be careful,” Brattin says, chuckling.

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Due out Friday, “Both Sides of the Sky” features 13 studio recordings cut by Hendrix between 1968 and 1970 — and 10 of them have never been released before. It includes songs recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience — Jimi, Noel Redding, and Mitch Mitchell — and the latter-day Band of Gypsys — Jimi, Billy Cox, and Buddy Miles. It also includes cameos and collaborations with Johnny Winter, Lonnie Youngblood, and Stephen Stills, with whom Hendrix plays a pre-“Déjà Vu” version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

So what does Brattin think? He likes it.

“I think this record is not the holy grail,” he says. “It’s not the missing piece that will finally explain Jimi to the rest of the world.”

But, Brattin says, the variety of sounds and styles makes it worthwhile for Hendrix fans, so pick it up.