It's unfortunate that because of a mixture of Jimi Hendrix' great showmanship and subconscious racial stereotypes, Jimi Hendrix is remembered primarily as a performer, of the embodiment of the phallic guitar hero, the unfettered spirit of the liberation of the 60's, or some such.
In other words, people listen to Jimi Hendrix because he plays guitar, and because he epitomizes the spirit of the psychedelic era. I however, think Jimi Hendrix went far beyond that, and this album is one of the proofs.
Of all his albums, this one shows off Jimi's skills as a songwriter, and as a composer. Had Jimi Hendrix never played a note in his career, or had he had no charisma, and this albums music had come to life thirty years later, performed by others, Hendrix' genius would still show through.
The album's songs build in a certain order, although strangely enough more so on the cassette version than on the original version. Although the songs could be pigeonholed as standard 60's psychedelia, Hendrix goes far beyond that. For example, Voodoo Chile (the long, acoustic version) tells a story of exile, followed by a mandelic journey around the cosmos in search of Shamanistic powers, making it reminscent of shamanistic tales going back to the time of Qu Yuan.
While at no point political to the point of propaganda, the album contains many subtle allusions to the problems of the time, combining various levels of meaning. The songs range from the intensely personal "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", to the metaphorical "All Along the Watchtower" (who else but Jimi Hendrix could make a Bob Dylan song his own?), to the epic "1983...A Merman I should turn to be". Together, they seem to compose some sort of vision, but what exactly it is is up to the listener to decipher.
A man named John Perry wrote an entire book just about this album, from its background to a track by track listing of the album. It is interesting reading, and Perry seems to agree with me on the breakthrough nature of the album as Hendrix as composer. It's interested reading.