War Heroes

Jimi Hendrix

Reprise, 1972


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It’s an established fact that, throughout his career and prior to his death in 1970, Jimi Hendrix was extremely active in recording studios. The plethora of bootlegs which have surfaced since his death offer ample proof of this (while other Holy Grail items like the legendary Black Gold album remain under lock and key by Hendrix’s estate).

War Heroes was the third posthumous release of Hendrix’s material and could be seen as a bit of a “closet cleaning” in terms of going through tracks recorded with both The Experience and Band Of Gypsys that were fairly complete in terms of their structure. Yet listening to this disc, it suggests that there was a reason Hendrix never selected these tracks to make it onto the official albums released in his lifetime.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you pick this disc up expecting to hear an extension of Are You Experienced or Electric Ladyland, you’ll probably be disappointed. If anything, the nine tracks making up this disc create more of a rock-oriented album than Hendrix had released in his lifetime. And while this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, it does leave Hendrix without a few of his trademark guitar tricks, and he resorts to just all-out soloing and riffing.

Again, these aren’t terrible things; “Highway Chile,” “Tax Free” and “Beginning” (the last track written by Mitch Mitchell) all serve as evidence that even castoff tracks found on the shelves of the archives seemed to have their place in Hendrix’s discography.

But not every track is up to that level. “Peter Gunn Catastrophe” sounds to be nothing more than Hendrix, Mitchell and Billy Cox letting off some steam in the studio, while “3 Little Bears” goes absolutely nowhere and probably should have been left in the archives.

In the end, though, War Heroes tries to posit the question: what would Hendrix’s music have sounded like had he lived? And, while producers Eddie Kramer and John Jansen make a solid effort to try and map that out, the truth is we’ll never really know—but this disc, while having some solid moments, doesn’t necessarily feel like it was Hendrix’s next logical progression as a musician.

Many of the tracks on War Heroes have found their way onto other posthumous releases in the Hendrix discography; whether they are better fits in those settings, I honestly don’t know. But War Heroes serves as a snapshot of Hendrix the rock musician—warts and all—and is one that will still probably be of some interest to Hendrix’s diehard fans (if they can locate a copy, that is).

Rating: C+

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