Archive for the ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’ Category

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.

Nero & The Gladiators

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Listen: Entry Of The Gladiators / Nero & The Gladiators
Entry Of The Gladiators / Nero & The Gladiators

The mystique of the early 60′s is impossible to shake. A constant return to it seems my endless circle. Instrumentals were a lot more abundant then, as A side singles that is. Electronic and dance records nowadays don’t count. No one expects them to go Top 40.

I’d always assumed Nero & The Gladiators were produced by Joe Meek. These early 60′s singles don’t even mention producers. In fact, label copy went downhill once more than the producer needed crediting. A nice, minimal information label still looks the best.

Come to find out, Joe Meek only did a non-Nero Gladiators single ‘Tovaritch’, their final release in ’63. It’s the intro on this one, ‘Entry Of The Gladiators’ that led me to assume otherwise.

There’s a lot detail involving this band’s musicians through the years: Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, The Ivy League, The Flowerpot Men. In fact, Mike O’Neill, Nero himself, was an original member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, playing organ in their initial four piece lineup during Fall ’66.

Kraftwerk

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Listen: The Robots (Edited Version) / Kraftwerk KraftwerkRobots.mp3

Thirty two years. It’s a long time.

Well that number represents two things: how many years ago ‘The Robots’ was released and how many years behind contemporary music just about every commercial radio station in America is. They still have no idea.

Believe me, liking this single or Kraftwerk in 1978 got you many a cross eyed look. No worries, I was used to them. The same facial expression greeted me for loving The Pretty Things first album, The Pink Floyd’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, even that wild and zany Jimi Hendrix Experience. Yes, other kids would shoot stuff at my crowd in the school hallways for our queer tastes. I recall one classmate hassling me for liking “the nigger that wears women’s clothes”. True.

Upstate New York was not a very open minded place in the late 60′s.

Now I guarantee you, most of those ignorants are still listening to these very bands, yes still.

Fast forward to 2002. I’m working at Columbia and our chairman had decided to sign David Bowie. He passed around the demos from HEATHEN, his forthcoming label debut. Settling into a weekly A&R meeting, he asks me what I thought of the songs.

“Garbage. I hate them.”

“What! You never liked Bowie? You didn’t like ZIGGY STARDUST?”

“Boss, when I liked ZIGGY STARDUST, I got laughed at in the hallways and chased home after school by bullies.”

There was no way this guy was into a bloke wearing a fake fur top shaped like two rabbit ears, hot pants, seamed fish net stockings and stilettos in ’72 (David Bowie’s exact outfit at the Syracuse Landmark Theater that very year).

In truth, there was no replacing the pulse of those moments, like championing any of the above in their prime, when you’re insatiable for the sonic palate cleansing these genre inventing acts provided. It was a rush. You felt high every time you listened, and you couldn’t listen enough.

Like Kraftwerk, THE MAN MACHINE. A defining work of music that changed culture, introduced the world to the sound of technology. And a whole bunch of people still don’t even know that it has yet. That’s how far ahead of their time Kraftwerk were/are.

You’re going to be dead for an awful long time, so don’t ever, ever miss them in concert if you can help it. In many ways, there is no better live act. When it comes to electronic music, only The Chemical Brothers come close, and they’re a completely different experience altogether.

Tim Hardin

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Listen: You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie / Tim Hardin TimHardinGrace.mp3

There was once a great revolution in US radio programming, when all the underground music in the 60′s – like album tracks and singles by album type artists – started getting aired on FM stations.

Top 40 back then was a life saver compared to now, but was pretty quick to avoid anything considered too colorful or probably drug related. So off the Top 40 airwaves stayed Traffic, The Move, The Nice, early Jimi Hendrix Experience, early Cream, definitely early Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother & The Holding Company, etc. Still many of the major market Top 40s (I got WBZ/Boston clear as a bell) would open up in the evening and definitely after midnight. And to be fair, some acts got converted to regular play.

But it’s those late night listening memories I’m touching on here. Like Joey sang in ‘Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio’: “Do you remember lying in bed / With the covers pulled up over your head / Radio playing so no one can see”. All of us that were addicted did this nightly – especially in the summer when you could sleep in the next day. This is how I discovered The Seeds (‘Mr Farmer’ and ‘Pushin Too Hard’ are still night time records for me), Jefferson Airplane (‘My Best Friend’ is a big favorite), Blue Cheer, Tim Rose (his version of ‘Hey Joe’ was the first I heard and clearly the template for the Jimi Hendrix version) and especially Tim Hardin. Yeah, I was bitten by this haunting single ‘You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie’. I even liked that the title was too long and the untimely fade out.

Folk was hip, I always wanted a smattering beyond Bob Dylan and I guess others did too. Did anyone really dislike Joan Baez, Richie Havens or Buffy St. Marie like they pretended? Probably not. But Tim Hardin hasn’t gotten his deserved props either. Listening with one ear attached to my transitor and the other hearing the ambience of late night, small town, upstate NY: crickets, the New York Central freight trains way off in the distance, the occasional drifting of the cars on Thruway also out there. The whole thing still comes right back to me every time, and I mean every time, I play this.

Them

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Richard Cory / Them

Listen: Richard Corey / Them
Richard

Wolf Chart 6-25-66

I religiously collected local radio station charts placed in all the record shops and record departments at the variety stores. Every town had them. They’re really fun to scour nowadays for the national non-hits as well as being a great snapshot of the music you could hear at that given moment. If you search ‘music survey’ at eBay, there are always a bunch listed for auction.

I recall WT Grants on Salina Street in Syracuse had a huge record department, and stocked everything you could want, especially as WOLF, one of the town’s two Top 40 stations was pretty adventurous, playing a lot of obscure English rock and US RnB. This was a God send for me from ’65 – ’67, until they buckled and went all Billboard on us. That said record department had a soda counter attached to it, up a few steps with typical glittery colored American Graffiti style booths looking down on the hustle/bustle of kids pawing through and buying records (today you see the same activity at an Apple store or Game Stop), and they had a great jukebox. It was jammed with all the latest up and comers. I remember investing a dime to hear ‘Bend It’, well not only hear it but watch the single spin round on the store’s lavender/purple Rock-ola, at the same time admiring a factory printed Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich jukebox tab to accompany it. I wonder where that tab ended up. Hate to think.

My only problem with WT Grants or Walt’s being there were so many choices, and not enough money to buy them all on my $1 a week allowance and some cash from mowing lawns. I still get cold sweats hearing a lawn mover. I would literally walk up and back neighbor’s yards behind their mowers deciding what record this torturous act would earn me and I distinctly remember suffering through several yards earning enough to buy The Cream FRESH CREAM. I went cheap, and sprung for the mono pressing as they were $1 less. Who knew then that monos would end up way more valuable than their stereo counterparts. Man, am I happy I bought them: The Pink Floyd PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, The Jimi Hendrix Experience AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE and Big Brother & The Holding Company CHEAP THRILLS to mention a few that reaped incredible returns. Well if I ever decide to sell them that is. I soon figured out other ways to get all these records and more for free. That saga is covered in my Jack Dupree post for the more curious of you.

Meanwhile, the one record that got played by WOLF (and I bet only by WOLF in the whole of the US as I’ve never seen it on any other local chart, ever) but not stocked, was ‘Richard Corey’ by Them. It’s actually a Paul Simon cover and Van Morrison reportedly hated it.

If you couldn’t find something at Grant’s there was also Walt’s Records, just down a block and right next to a peanut shop, freshly roasting their wares.

Walt’s was a great shrine to obscure stuff, and very RnB heavy. The place smelled fantastic, a constant mixture of vinyl and those roasted nuts. Like Grant’s, I was told they “couldn’t get” this single by Them either. “Couldn’t get”, what the hell does that mean? Turns out the lyric “He went home last night and put a bullet through his head” was a big deal….I’m guessing neither outlet dared stock it just in case. Guns were not cool once. It’s a shame that’s changed. And it took me years to find this as I’m sure not many were pressed. How WOLF got away with playing ‘Richard Corey’ heavily for several weeks without a problem is surprising, but they did.

The Heartbreakers

Monday, February 8th, 2010

HeartbreakersBornPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: Born To Lose / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersBorn.mp3

The Heartbreakers were in London, playing The Marquee around the last week or so of March ’77. It was luckily during a fortnight visit, seeing a band every night type trip, right at the height of punk. The Roxy was in it’s brief existence and having missed them there in order to see The Damned and Johnny Moped at the LSE, I was anxious to get in early. It’s funny when you go 3,000 miles to see a band that’s from your own backyard. They were both everything New York yet perfectly invented for England too. Recalling the show that night still gives me the shakes.

HeartbreakerOneTrackPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: One Track Mind / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersOneTrack.mp3

To prove the point about England, they signed to a reactivated (I think just for them) Track Records. Seemingly dormant since the very early 70′s, suddenly Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were dug up and cleaned off – good as new.

In ’67, when the label began, those two must have been a real threat with both The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Who on a roster that overnight put Track in the uh-oh we’re all in trouble now league. Thunderclap Newman and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown didn’t help, while Marsha Hunt, John’s Children, The Eire Apparent and Cherry Smash made stubbornly difficult to find, must-have flops.

‘One Track Mind’, The Heartbreakers second single, had me thinking they could take over the world. My crystal ball obviously needed new batteries. But the guitar tones of Johnny Thunders and especially Walter Lure were a wall of sloppy sound live and for a brief moment I couldn’t get enough.

Walter played for years on The Ramones albums. His signature sound is a giveaway on TOO TOUGH TO DIE, and a perfect foil to Johnny’s.

The Riot Squad

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

I Wanna Talk About My Baby / The Riot Squad

I Wanna Talk About My Baby / The Riot Squad

Listen: I Wanna Talk About My Baby / The Riot Squad RiotSquadIWannaTalk.mp3

Cry Cry Cry / The Riot Squad

Cry Cry Cry / The Riot Squad

Listen: Cry Cry Cry / The Riot Squad RiotSquadCry.mp3

How It Is Done / The Riot Squad

Listen: How It Is Done / The Riot Squad RiotSquadHowItIsDone.mp3

Despite a decidedly dated sound, I have a soft spot for The Riot Squad. A lot of ground was covered during the two or so years they existed. Their prestigious associations included both Larry Page and Joe Meek as producers, plus Mitch Mitchell (pre Jimi Hendrix Experience) and Jon Lord (post Artwoods / pre Deep Purple) as members. 1965′s ‘I Wanna Talk About My Baby’ was a picture perfect reproduction of Georgie Fame’s then current sound – almost to the point of plagiarism. Still, a great track which was afforded a US picture sleeve. Who decided that?

As life should be, I was actually turned on to them when my local Top 40, WOLF, started playing the B side to ‘Cry Cry Cry’ – a Joe Meek production ‘How It Is Done’. This was winter ’66 and it brings me right back to that snow day in March when I first heard it. This track still shines, and captures the romantic British Beat sound that we all craved at the time – well my friends and I that is. Being a major Joe Meek fan, this is a double sided must. Hat’s off to whoever chose to play ‘How It Is Done’. Excellent call.

WOLF chart 4-16-66

Sorry for this poor repro of the WOLF chart above (click to enlarge), with The Riot Squad at #19. I don’t own the original, but it’s such a good one, I decided to share it despite the quality.

Tim Rose / The Jimi Hendrix Experience / The Creation

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down) / Tim Rose

Listen: Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down) / Tim Rose 01 Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down).mp3

According to some, it’s this Tim Rose arrangement and slow version of ‘Hey Joe’ that manager Chas Chandler brought to his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as a template for their recording.

I played Tim’s version recently, and thought I’d do some research. By the way, the fast, jangled, garage band version popularized by The Leaves is not part of this discussion.

Listen: Hey Joe / The Creation 20 Hey Joe.mp3

Tim Rose, Hendrix and The Creation all did the slow, haunting one, full of mystery. In my research travels, I read that Chas and Jimi may have, in fact, gotten their idea from The Creation, who were playing this arrangement of ‘Hey Joe’ in London clubs late ’66, exactly when Hendrix and Chandler entered the studio to record that first single. Although The Creation never released a 7″ of ‘Hey Joe’, it was an album track, which I’ve posted.

Hey Joe (Single Mono Mix) / The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Hey Joe (Single Mono Mix) / The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Listen: Hey Joe (Single Mono Mix) / The Jimi Hendrix Experience 01 Hey Joe.mp3

Also for reference, I’ve posted the original mono single mix from The Jimi Hendrix Experience above. This version is the one you know, but that mono mix is magic. Even though this original copy has been played hundreds of times, the record still sounds larger than life.

WOLF6_4_66, WOLF, Dee Jay & The Runaways, Clefs Of Lavender Hill

My introduction to ‘Hey Joe’ was indeed via the Tim Rose rendition. Interestingly, the songwriting is credited differently on all three labels above (click to enlarge). Somehow, this was a hit on my hometown station, WOLF (see chart). Check my past posts for a look at what great music this station played. I hate to say they may have been one of the last great US radio stations. Scary.

The story of ‘Hey Joe’ is full of twists and turns, and now with so many participants deceased, one of great myth.

Read about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hey_Joe