Analogue Productions Presents a 200 Gram, Clarity Vinyl UHQR Are You Experienced

The original British pressing of Are You Experienced? (Track 612 001) was a tepid looking and sounding monophonic affair and despite the label’s name, the jacket didn’t list the tracks, nor did the front offer the band’s name.

The Who’s managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp had originally envisioned the Track label for their group but at the end of 1966 former Animal Chas Chandler blown away by Jimi Hendrix’s performance at New York’s Café Wha? brought him to the U.K. and his need for a record label came first.

Thus was formed Track Records—the U.K.’s first indie label— with Are You Experienced being the premier release.

Clearly the cover photo was a hastily arranged, almost goofy looking shot, and the cover was as dark and undistinguished as the hollowed-out, bass-deficient sound, recorded using 4 track recorders at Olympic, CBS and De Lane Lea studios. Great studios but Chandler was on a tight budget. Mono was then king so the mix was mono.

The back cover featured the trio’s bios and smiling shots of jazz drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding who Chandler had plucked from an Animals audition. Both photos look more appropriate for a high school yearbook than for sharing space with a guy playing a Stratocaster with his teeth!

None of this prevented the album, released May 12, 1967, from becoming a huge critical and commercial U.K. success. It was of course the perfect expression of guitar-crazy freedom and psychedelic awareness craved by an about to be liberated and lifted generation.

As was the case back then in the U.K., albums did not include singles, so the record omitted “Hey Joe”, Hendrix’s first single (issued on Polydor because Track wasn’t yet up and running) “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary”. Instead, side one opens with “May This Be Love” and ends with the title track. In between is “Remember”, an r&b riffing track not exactly a good fit with the spacey “3rd Stone From the Sun” and the searing “Fire”.

Side two opens aggressively with “Foxy Lady” then “Manic Depression” but takes a left field turn with “Red House”, admittedly a wonderfully constructed and performed blues but a momentum breaker.

Hendrix’s performance at The Monterrey Pop Festival, where in a competition with fellow Track Records artist The Who for who could produce the most stage mayhem, famously included setting his guitar on fire both figuratively and literally.

Enter Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records, home of Sammy Davis Jr., Trini Lopez, Peter, Paul & Mary and at the time not exactly a hip rock label. Reprise executives, wanting in on the “rock thing” and having witnessed Hendrix’s literally incendiary performance licensed all the music recorded for Are You Experienced.

Hendrix disappointed by the original’s bland cover art arranged for graphic artist Karl Ferris to shoot new group images, one of which became the far more striking and appropriately psychedelic Reprise cover featuring a fisheye lens distorted group portrait, wild colors and acid saturated lettering.

Eddie Kramer, who’d been involved in the original recordings, remixed and re-imagined the tracks for a “stereo” release. Since these were 4 track recordings the results were not really “stereo” but the panned presentation was perfect for the material and compared to the staid original the music jumped from the grooves, flashing like a neon sign across the soundstage, though the extreme compression applied to both make it "pop" more than the staid U.K. original and to keep the stylus from jumping from the grooves produced a flat but loud perspective. Nonetheless the American version sounded as wild and correct as the British one sounded dead in the water dull.

Unrestricted by the U.K.’s singles omissions someone produced a spectacular side 1 track order beginning with “Purple Haze” and ending with “I Don’t Live Today”. In between were “Manic Depression”, and “Hey Joe” among the six. Whew! Side two opened with “The Wind Cries Mary” and appropriately ends with “Are You Experienced?” Listeners after the first play mostly answered in the affirmative! This record was wild sonically and visually, whoever this Jimi Hendrix guy was, because at the time his history as an r&b backup guitarist wasn't known to those grabbing for records with crazy covers.

Nonetheless, before the album was released on August 23rd, 1967 the first two singles stalled on the Billboard Hot 100. “Underground stereo FM radio” was the album’s salvation and it reached #5 and charted for more than 100 weeks.

The original “Tri-color” Reprise mustard, green and pink “steamboat” label was the original soon replaced by the Warner-7Arts orange/yellow label. Those Tri-color” originals sell for $100 plus online.

Nice souvenirs but sonically they can’t touch this new Bernie Grundman mastering using the original tapes and pressed UHQR flat profile on 200g Clarity vinyl at QRP. I compared this new version to the original and to all of the other Experience Hendrix reissues and Bernie’s got them all beat in terms of dynamics, three-dimensionality and especially transparency—a quality I never thought to assign this recording but one listen will convince you that it’s there. I've been playing this record in one version or another since August of 1967 and I knew there was a "mouth pop" on "Purple Haze" but nonetheless when it came I jumped and adrenaline flowed so present and 3 dimensional was the "pop." This is one of the classic albums from the rock era and it’s never sounded this good. This version will most likely never be bettered.

Packaging is the UHQR slipcase box modeled after the original RCA Soria classical record series and if that’s a space waster for you, it’s easily stored while the laminated gatefold jacket fits nicely on the shelf along with the rest of your Hendrix collection. I'm getting emails from readers complaining that the Acoustic Sounds phone line is jammed, so best to order online. i believe Analogue Productions prepared for the response by pressing 20,000 copies before announcing the release.

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Quaxxtro's picture

I just ordered these! Thank you for your review.

polanskyd's picture

Any idea if these will be issued in a more stripped-down package? Would be very interested in this mastering, but don't especially need to pay 125 for a box-set style presentation...

jazz's picture

If they only never began that box set packaging for less than 3 LP‘s. Would save us a lot of space and money. As nice as it is.

tcinoz's picture

I was in a record shop last week contemplating buying the UHQR 'Kind of Blue' and decided against it for that reason alone. I went home and played my early UK CBS pressing and was satisfied that it sounded more than good enough - and takes up only a tenth of an inch of shelving. That can be a clincher when you already have far too much of your living space devoted to storing vinyl records.

Glotz's picture

If SQ is important. It's completely unlike and obviously superior to other pressings previously.

Paul Boudreau's picture

I’ve always considered the original UK mono release to be the best-sounding and the US one to be bastardized, at least as far as the track listing is concerned. Out of curiosity, what does “original tapes” mean in this instance?

Jeffrey Lee's picture

You consider the version containing “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe”and “The Wind Cries Mary” to be the bastardized version? I think you’re well in the minority here, bud. The UK version is, by definition, bastardized because they chose to exclude songs that the band meant to be included. What a world.

39goose's picture

Original 3-tack Master Reels.

rich d's picture

While I, too, find the UK mono a bit weedy, the above comment only goes to show that honorable people can differ about such matters. It is fair to say Hendrix wasn't too pleased with Track's cover choices - his disdain for the original Electric Ladyland cover is well documented.

Would I be asking too much to want all the tracks from the UK and US versions spread over four 45RPM sides?

Paul Boudreau's picture

As long as we’re dreaming, why not add the pre-LP singles like “Highway Chile” and “51st Anniversary?” My preference for the UK mono original LP might just be due to its being mono, which to me sounds much less “disjointed” than the stereo version, like other LPs from that 4-track era. Ever heard the US mono version? I think reverb was added and I recall it sounding awful. Should listen to it again, though.

Hosta3's picture

One of the best LPs from one of the most gifted guitarists of all time pressed on UHQR no less. You bet it's worth the cost. I haven't been disappointed with my other purchased UHQRs. My copy is due to be delivered 4/1. It's a no brainer.

2_channel_ears's picture

"the panned presentation was perfect for the material"

totally works on early Hendrix, and select "classics"..

richiep's picture

I was part of the AV department in HS when this US release came out, one of us "geeks" as we were described had an early copy and we played it to death along with CCR & Black Sabbath a bit later. We sealed the door cracks to our room and blasted it as loud as possible, still had the Hall Monitors knocking on the door! Also had access to behind the stage to catch a smoke (only Marlboro). I have the AP 200g? copy from a few years back and it sounds excellent, but have placed my UHQR order. Being a long time subscription customer we always were offered an option for 1 copy with a low number, has Chad abandon us? Enjoyed your history how this important record evolved, I knew about the Track attempts and a little about Kramer. Is he the same one that was manufacturing Guitars in NJ? I was there one day as he was trying to sell or get the Boss to us them. Early, mid 80's it was a zoo, like a rock star arrived!

anomaly7's picture

Another late night read of an Analog Planet post and another order placed for a new record! Woohoo!
Thanks, Mikey

jazz's picture

It’s simply so essential. Still can’t believe how many killer tracks can be on one record.

jazz's picture

It’s simply so essential. Still can’t believe how many killer tracks can be on one record.

Martin's picture

Once again, based on the review and recommendation.

shawnwes's picture

For those who don't want to give up the shelf space or spend 3x the going rate for an lp the Experience Hendrix pressing by Pallas is also fabulous sounding in a premium gatefold cover.

Rashers's picture

to the 2010 "Experience Hendrix" - edition remastered by Eddie Kramer and George Marino? While I lover Bernie's work - that was done by the original engineer and retails for 1/4th the price - and doesn't take up half a shelve (I put the box for the AP Kind of Blue up in the attic).

jazz's picture

But usually, aside of a possible tonality difference and preference, the mastering chain quality alone of Bernie Grundman and Kevin Gray is above others. And especially with Rock/Pop masterings (different than Jazz and Classical), I never heard negative treble EQ shortfalls of Bernie (except his Dire Straits Brothers in Arms reissue). So I assume his Jimi Hendrix will be the best so far (until Chad will release a 45 RPM version after all of us bought the 33 RPM ;-) )

shawnwes's picture

I have 3 of them and they are all excellent pressings, amongst the best sounding rock lps I own. I won't be purchasing this UHQR as I had a very poor experience with the KOB release. I had to purchase 3 copies to get one relatively clean copy. Thankfully I managed to sell the other 2 copies at my cost after they were sold out. For some reason many premium priced re-issues, incl other labels, are currently having pressing issues which has been going on for the last couple of years. Ironically the Verve Series and Tone Poet pressings I have purchased have all been perfect other than a couple of titles - and I have purchased many of them.

jazz's picture

Fortunately my KOB was fine, but even from Quality Records plant I have several warped and noisy pressings. It seems this industry still hasn’t learned enough from the Classic Records era and as soon as an order overload shows up, all good intentions are ruined and cooling down is too short again or similar.

I share your experience of no bad Tone Poet pressing so far.
The current vinyl era is hard to stand without a record flattener or the cheaper oven method and certainly also a good record washing machine.

kramth's picture

I'm a long time customer of Acoustic Sounds as well as Music Direct and both of them happily sent replacements for my UHQRs that had a problem. I bought two copies of KOB, but both were noisy, so I emailed and got replacements - this was a first time for me requesting this service. Same with side one of Muddy Waters from MD.
So I recommend asking for customer assistance because none of these flaws were detectable by visual inspection. One can hardly expect play grading of new pressings!

fdroadrunner's picture

I would agree. I have a number of Experience Hendrix releases, and they all sound excellent.

Michael Fremer's picture
I compared them all.....not close. Seriously.
Steve Edwards's picture

I have a 2014 reissue "under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment" The hype sticker on the front says "THE AUTHORIZED HENDRIX FAMILY EDITION - 200 gram Audiophile LP Pressing - All Analog Mastering from the original 2-track master tapes by Bernie Grundman - Complete Original Artwork - Manufactured By Quality Record Pressings"
All of the 2014 versions listed on Discogs state "mastered by George Marino". Maybe they're just typos; I'm just curious how this version compares to the UHQR?
Play on

firedog's picture

How does it sound compared to the SACD AP and Bernie put out a year or two ago?

jazz's picture

I never heard an SACD of even exactly the same mastering come close enough to the vinyl (especially if it’s AAA).

swimming1's picture

Been listening to ad infinitum versions since 1967.Do I need another? No. I still have about a 1000 lps I haven't listened to on the racks! Cheers,Chet

puffy fluffy's picture

How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you can't even get the UK track listing right, for one of the most legendary albums ever? Also FYI the UK mono kicks the crap out of any US pressing. You're welcome.

Michael Fremer's picture
Listen Puffy, what track listing did I get wrong? I had the original UK mono in front of me. The UK mono is weak...
mrl1957's picture

I have a Japanese Polydor mono copy that I purchased way back in the early 1980s. The "A" and "B" sides are swapped compared to your UK copy, same "near AM radio" audio quality.

Boomer's picture

Just ordered my copy from Acoustic Sounds and I'm hoping to listen and compare to my original copy. Thanks for the heads up Mikey and I'll be enjoying the album, after I clean it, for many years.

Russo7516's picture

My UHQR of Aqualung never made it to my doorstep. AS replaced it .when the second one came in the record was warped . Chad reached out to me due to my google review. He sent me another copy. My Kind of Blue copy was delivered to the wrong address .Seems UPS does not know the word drive or road.
Like Kramth said above my KOB was noisy. But than again KOB six eyes was noisy also.
I just ordered Jimi hoping this will be a great sounding record. if not will sell them on the used market and recoup my money .
Where are they sourcing the master from? Be honest

BillK's picture

I had a different issue with the UHQR KoB, namely I couldn't get a good copy.

The first one I received was noisy.

The replacement was quiet, but had one side pressed off-center.

The second replacement also had one side pressed off-center.

At this point I asked for a refund because it was not clear to me they would be able to supply me with a quiet copy that had both sides pressed centered on the disc, rather disappointing given the price. This seems like the kind of thing it would be easy to QC for, apparently not as it seems to be the single most common issue I see on new pressings I buy today.

Kudos to AS for refunding me despite it being several months after purchase.

Russo7516's picture

At the prices the AS are charging . We should be getting spot on. Reading these reviews I am seeing that I am not the only one with some minor issues.
I hope Chad is reading this. He is also going to release a lot of Jazz soon.
Would love to see the really rare jazz stuff. One comes to mind.
Sonny's Crib.
Also please another round of Quiet Kenny and not in 45 rpm just 33 1/3 Mono when it was first released.
When MOFI did the UHQR it was stellar and that vinyl was coming from JAPAN from JVC.

Glotz's picture

Just for supplying us with this critical info, as I was not on the mailing list for AS. Am now!

digitalzed's picture

Hi Michael,

I came across this review you did of the BG mono remaster back in 2013. I realize this was nine years ago and so much has changed in the mastering world, however you seemed to really like the mono version and spoke at that time of its superiority to the stereo version.

I'm not posting to be inflammatory or argumentative, but to ask you what remains from this 2013 review to consider and does it have any bearing on what you wrote in this review?

jazz's picture

I understood Michael compared this new UHQR to all (assumed also the mono ones) of the previous reissues and found it better in the described ways. It still remains open how much better he still sees the mono vs. the stereo sound or not anymore.

Michael Fremer's picture
and in some ways it's better than the stereo but it's like Beatles albums....
digitalzed's picture

...there have been many thoughts revisions, and unchanged opinions from reviewers on the Beatles and other seminal bands that have seen massive amounts of reissues and remasters. I'm genuinely interested in a more in depth opinion from you from my original question.

rexlibris's picture

I've got mine on order!

Glotz's picture

Via Music Direct. Shipping is free there.

Thank you for the heads-up, Michael!

Boomer's picture

Has anyone received their album yet? I ordered my copy from AS and am still waiting for an email saying that my copy has been sent. I've had problems with AS with not getting what I ordered in a timely manner. I live in the same state and about 80 miles from AS. I ordered some record cleaning supplies a couple of years ago and it took over 10 days to get them.

Captain Lockheed's picture

I started purchasing the UHQR series with Aqualung and was hesitant at first after reading all the quality issues folks were having. I eventually caved and my copy was perfect luckily but I must say that regarding any surface noise, if you are purchasing LP's of this caliper you should be utilizing some sort of cleaning method other than just a light wipe if that is all used. To fairly judge the surface quality of any LP, new or used, they should be fully cleaned either via vacuum or ultra sonic method. I give all my LP's a 6 step enzyme vacuum clean and rinse and then let the stylus run through once before listening. I had since bought another copy of Aqualung and two copies of KOB, all were dead quiet, flat and perfectly centered. I have also ordered this title and no longer have trepidations.

Russo7516's picture

I am all for cleaning a new record for static discharge. I do not think a brand new LP needs a sonic cleaning.
There is a a guy on You Tube say that sonic cleaning may destroy your records . He did a few different test under a micro scope and you can see the difference.
Is it true who know's ?

warpig's picture

Surprised no one has added to this page since 04/04. I still have not received mine due to wrong expiration date for my credit card.

mb's picture

Good grief...