How much more sublime does psychedelic rock get than “Third Stone from the Sun?” Smack in the middle of side B of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s immortal debut LP Are You Experienced, sandwiched between hard rock classics “Fire” and “Foxy Lady” (on the US release, that is), “Third Stone” coasts amiably and organically between straight jazz, laid-back groove rock, an acid-fried space alien’s ode to Earth, and full-bore tectonic psych freakouts. The song clocks in at about six and a half minutes—not especially overlong in a post “Interstellar Overdrive” world—but when it ends, you feel like you’ve experienced a genuine epic, and it served as notice that Hendrix was perfectly capable of transcending the heavy-blues psychedelia with which he was making his name.
But about that alien ode: it’s not the only spoken material present. There’s a garbled, slowed-down vocal throughout and underneath the song, most noticeable in the quieter passages, especially right at the beginning. It turns out that when sped up to normal, that’s Hendrix having a preposterous back-and-forth with his manager/producer Chas Chandler, also well known as the bass player for the Animals. The outtakes of those vocal sessions—at proper speed—were released on the 2000 Jimi Hendrix Experience box set, a/k/a “the purple box.” And in their unedited glory, they’re pretty damn funny, full of laughter, clowning around, character breaking, and goofy heavy-breathing wind sound effects. It’s tempting to assume they’re both just high as all fuck, because… 1967.
You can make out a lot of that in context simply by playing the original LP version at 45rpm. If you don’t have the album on vinyl, a helpful soul on the Internet has done it for you.