Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 14. July 21, 1971
The Cry of Love. — Polydor
The Cry of Love.
So here it is, the last release of the first non-Top Twenty superstar, capturing all the grace and power of the part Cherokee Indian, part Mexican, part Negro from Seattle. The relaxed feeling and the overpowering twilight that this record engenders serve as a beautiful, poignant testimonial to the intense craft of Jimi Hendrix. The master of special effects, who used electricity in a way that was never obvious as mere volume, took his bag of tricks - the fuzz-tone, the wah-wah pedal, the stack of Marshalls - and used them as a series of stepping stones to create wave upon wave of intense energy. The fluid-fingered picker who could ripple off runs with an unexpectedly perfect style burst out with phrases that filled every loose chink in a song.
In the sense of a breakthrough The Cry of Love is not anything that might not be expected from Hendrix. Still, the songs are all uniquely his, styled his way, and after so long an absence they are more than welcome. The album opens with Freedom a pyrotechnic display of classic Hendrix. From the hard-driving chords at the opening, it's solid gold. His quieter side is exemplified by Drifting, a slow pretty piece that manifests Hendrix's talent for moulding his music superbly to the lyrics (remember Manic Depression) It is a ghostly track of lovely images of "Drifting/On a sea of forgotten teardrops/ on a lifeboat...," one of the most moving pieces he ever created.
My Friend, with its tinkling glasses and party noises is notable for a set of lyrics which Hendrix almost casually injects. The style is slightly surrealistic, a lot of friendly nonsense, and some very aware, deeply personal lines;
And, uh, sometimes it's not so easy
Specially when your only friend
Talks, sees, looks and feels like you
And you do just the same as him.
Straight Ahead and Astro Man are routine rockers that make good listening in stereo. The deathlike images of salvation and resurrection in Angel provide an appropriately memorial touch. It's a beautiful piece of work that moves nicely into the frantic In from the storm. This is Hendrix at his most furious, charging like a proud stallion before the wind.
The final touch is saved for Belly Button Window a kind of slow and mellow blues which Hendrix performs accompanied only by his guitar. It's in this pensive, nostalgic mood that Hendrix's last album ends. Now that he's gone, it has something precious, something to savour slowly, because there'll be no others. It does him justice and I don't think we could have ever wanted anything more than that.