Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
As far as debut albums go, not many can match the brilliance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Are You Experienced. The 11-track masterpiece was a result of the symphony constantly playing in Hendrix’s head and the years he spent on the road backing up acts such as Wilson Pickett, Little Richard and the Isley Brothers, just to name a few. Hendrix and bandmates Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, who he barely knew, began recording in October of 1966. Redding and Mitchell’s knowledge and appreciation for jazz and the blues made this trio work.
Are You Experienced is a combination of diverse life experiences and Hendrix’s chance to set his genius free. It’s hard to fathom how “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Foxy Lady” and “Purple Haze” came from the same mind, let alone the same album. From the time Hendrix arrived in London to the release of the album is less than one calendar year. Eight months to be exact. Hendrix arrived on the music scene just at the right time. While Are You Experienced is one of the definitive albums of the psychedelic era, it also introduced the heavy use of feedback, distortion and improvisational jazz into one rock LP. The album went where no other had gone previously. Musician and journalist Greg Tate once wrote, "The electric guitar is an instrument whose history can be divided up into two eras: before and after Jimi Hendrix.”
For a debut album to be considered a classic, it should either define the era in which it was released, make fellow artists take notice and change their game or render any comparisons to it almost pale in comparison. Are You Experienced does all three.