A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
With Eddie Kramer and Robert Ludwig on the payroll, doesn’t this record have to be spectacular?
Good, yes, but spectacular? Not really. Some copies just don’t rock, and those copies lose a huge number of points for that shortcoming on a Monster Rock record such as this. Some are leaned out, some have no real top end — as Murphy’s Law makes clear, if something can go wrong it will go wrong.
What exactly are we looking for on this Hendrix record? Rock energy, vocal and guitar presence, big bass, huge size and space, balanced tonality — all that stuff.
Both sides here were rockin’ like crazy, with full-bodied, natural, smooth, tonally correct sound.
Night Bird Flying
In From the Storm
Belly Button Window
This was the first of the posthumous releases in the Jimi Hendrix catalog and probably the best as it collected most of the studio tracks that were either completed or very near completion before Hendrix died. Some of these tunes, like “Angel” and “Ezy Rider,” have become well-known pieces in the Hendrix canon, but they sit alongside lesser-known gems like “Night Bird Flying” and the Dylanesque “My Friend.”
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Lenny Kaye hailed The Cry of Love as the authentic posthumous Hendrix album, his last work, and “a beautiful, poignant testimonial, a fitting coda to the career of a man who was clearly the finest electric guitarist to be produced by the Sixties, bar none”.
Robert Christgau originally wrote in The Village Voice that the album is an “excellent testament” and may be Hendrix’s best record behind Electric Ladyland (1968) because of its quality as a whole rather than its individual songs, finding it free-flowing, devoid of affectations, and “warmer than the three Experience LPs”. He was more enthusiastic about the songs in retrospect:
It isn’t just the flow—these tracks work as individual compositions, from offhand rhapsodies like “Angel” and “Night Bird Flying” through primal riffsongs like “Ezy Ryder” and “Astro Man” to inspired goofs like “My Friend” and “Belly Button Window.” What a testament.
In the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Colin Larkin later called The Cry of Love a “fitting tribute” to Hendrix, while Paul Evans wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide that it “showed the master, playing with Cox and Mitchell, at his most confident: ‘Ezy Rider’ and ‘Angel’ are the tough and tender faces of the genius at his most appealing.”
Dan Bigna from The Sydney Morning Herald believed although all of its songs were compiled on the more comprehensive First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997), “there is something satisfying about having this first posthumous Hendrix release as a distinct object that illuminates the brush strokes of a genius”.
In 2014, The Cry of Love was deemed by VH1 to be “the greatest posthumous classic rock record of all time.”