This is what Britain sounded like in late 1966 and early 1967: ablaze with rainbow blues, orchestral guitar feedback and the highly personal cosmic vision of black American emigre Jimi Hendrix. Rescued from dead-end gigs in New York by ex-Animal Chas Chandler, Hendrix arrived in London in September 1966, quickly formed the Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell and, in a matter of weeks — when he wasn't touring the country or jamming in clubs — was recording the songs that comprised the original, differing U.K. and U.S. editions of his epochal debut. The incendiary poetry of Hendrix's guitar was historic in itself, the luminescent sum of his chitlin-circuit labors with Little Richard and the Isley Brothers and his melodic exploitation of amp howl. But it was the pictorial heat of his composing and the raw fire in his voice in "Manic Depression," "The Wind Cries Mary" and "I Don't Live Today" that established the transcendent promise of psychedelia. Hendrix made soul music for inner space. "It's a collection of free feeling and imagination," he said of the album. "Imagination is very important." Drugs were not. Widely assumed to be about an acid trip, "Purple Haze," the opening track on the '67 U.S. LP, had "nothing to do with drugs," Hendrix insisted. " 'Purple Haze' was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea."