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J-Doug 09-18-2022 11:00 AM

Jimi Hendrix and his posthumous legacy
 
Hi guys,

I'll preface this as coming from a place of true love and admiration for Jimi Hendrix and the original Experience. I came to "discover" Hendrix in my late teens, falling in love with the four albums released in his lifetime and early posthumous releases like Cry of Love. I read what I could (the McDermott book was a favorite) and bought up almost everything I could afford on a student's budget, though suffering through some egregious Alan Douglas releases. In the end I came away with a real appreciation for what Hendrix accomplished in such a short time. I honestly feel that, while some may have displayed more technical mastery, Jimi has never been truly equaled.

I will also say that I am happy that the Hendrix family gained control of his work. I feel that the right people are in control of Jimi's legacy, especially with the involvement of Eddie Kramer. I do understand that they are trying their best to preserve what they can and share the best of what they have access to with the public.

But while some releases are quite stunning (Miami Pop Festival, BBC, Monterey, a lot of Winterland) and some releases have strong moments (Berkeley, Atlanta, Maui), some of the material released since his death has been, quite frankly, so woefully underbaked that I feel slightly embarrassed listening to it. Isle of Wight is particularly bad and Both Sides of the Sky is completely awful (do we really need two Stephen Stills tunes on a Hendrix release?).

Which brings me to my point: What are some of the factors impacting the quality of these releases, especially his post-Ladyland work? I feel there are three major things:

1. Underdeveloped material: I do not feel that many of the post-Ladyland tunes were ever fully developed. Some are 100% there like Ezy Ryder, Drifting, Freedom. But often Hendrix was barely singing, borderline mumbling through these new tracks, such as Hey Baby in its multiple forms. The guitar work and most of the riffs are strong but a lot of the melodies are weak and the lyrics non-existent. Compared to the tunes on a release like Bold As Love, these tunes are simply not fleshed out nor ready for prime time.

2. Billy Cox was no Noel Redding: I get it, Noel Redding was very difficult according to some accounts. And yeah of course Jimi wanted to play with his old friend Billy. But Cox was just not of the same caliber as Redding. Cox was positively boring in comparison. It did work well on Band of Gypsys but comparing Noel’s driving bass lines and how they propelled the original Experience forward to Cox’s lines is particularly telling. I feel Cox dragged the trio down.

3. The Decline of Mitch Mitchell’s playing: After the release of Ladyland I feel that the quality of Mitchell’s drumming severely declined and is very evident in recordings of the time. Some have hinted at substance abuse but I think the blame falls mostly at Jimi’s feet. After playing with Buddy Miles, Hendrix was looking for a heavier drumming style in the group and this was the wrong thing to ask of Mitch. IMO Mitch’s swinging, beautifully busy, jazz influenced style was only secondary to Hendrix’s playing on those original sides. Mitchell is truly a genius on Bold and elsewhere. Asking him to abandon this for a plodding style influenced by pounders like Baker and Bonham was a critical error and the music suffered for it.

You’ve read my opinions (such as they are) so what are yours?

godfreydaniel 09-18-2022 11:35 AM

When they finally reissued Hendrix in the West, it was a shame that some tracks from the original album were replaced with other recordings due to rights issues with Royal Albert Hall, in particular “Little Wing.” I used to have an excellent Japanese-issued CD of it, which was lost long ago. My original vinyl is a bit battered. The version of “Red House” on the album is one of my all-time favorite Hendrix recordings.

J-Doug 09-18-2022 11:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by godfreydaniel (Post 7089021)
When they finally reissued Hendrix in the West, it was a shame that some tracks from the original album were replaced with other recordings due to rights issues with Royal Albert Hall, in particular “Little Wing.” I used to have an excellent Japanese-issued CD of it, which was lost long ago. My original vinyl is a bit battered. The version of “Red House” on the album is one of my all-time favorite Hendrix recordings.

Yes In The West is a favorite. I remember finding it on vinyl in Montreal. Not a flattering cover photo though, weird choice IMO.

Silly Moustache 09-18-2022 03:30 PM

I was a big admirer of Jimi,but sadly I never saw him live as every time Jimi, Noel and Mitch were playing in London, my band were playing somewhere else.

I once met Noel ... in a late night petrol station when we were both returning from gigs. He seemed uneasy and nervous.

I met Mitch some time before his association with Jimi, when he was a "Saturday boy" at Marshall's first shop in Ealing. Everybody else including the guys in my band were talking amps and electric guitars, Mitch and I talked drums and I invited him to come to some of our gigs and help me with my kit, as Charlie Watts had done with me.

It seems so sad that everyone in that great trio are no longer with us.

Brucebubs 09-18-2022 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silly Moustache (Post 7089194)
I was a big admirer of Jimi,but sadly I never saw him live as every time Jimi, Noel and Mitch were playing in London, my band were playing somewhere else.

I once met Noel ... in a late night petrol station when we were both returning from gigs. He seemed uneasy and nervous.

I met Mitch some time before his association with Jimi, when he was a "Saturday boy" at Marshall's first shop in Ealing. Everybody else including the guys in my band were talking amps and electric guitars, Mitch and I talked drums and I invited him to come to some of our gigs and help me with my kit, as Charlie Watts had done with me.

It seems so sad that everyone in that great trio are no longer with us.

Andy - you should get this down somewhere - I love reading about your early, unique musical experiences - just wonderful stuff!

Dlew919 09-20-2022 06:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by J-Doug (Post 7089002)
Hi guys,

I'll preface this as coming from a place of true love and admiration for Jimi Hendrix and the original Experience. I came to "discover" Hendrix in my late teens, falling in love with the four albums released in his lifetime and early posthumous releases like Cry of Love. I read what I could (the McDermott book was a favorite) and bought up almost everything I could afford on a student's budget, though suffering through some egregious Alan Douglas releases. In the end I came away with a real appreciation for what Hendrix accomplished in such a short time. I honestly feel that, while some may have displayed more technical mastery, Jimi has never been truly equaled.

I will also say that I am happy that the Hendrix family gained control of his work. I feel that the right people are in control of Jimi's legacy, especially with the involvement of Eddie Kramer. I do understand that they are trying their best to preserve what they can and share the best of what they have access to with the public.

But while some releases are quite stunning (Miami Pop Festival, BBC, Monterey, a lot of Winterland) and some releases have strong moments (Berkeley, Atlanta, Maui), some of the material released since his death has been, quite frankly, so woefully underbaked that I feel slightly embarrassed listening to it. Isle of Wight is particularly bad and Both Sides of the Sky is completely awful (do we really need two Stephen Stills tunes on a Hendrix release?).

Which brings me to my point: What are some of the factors impacting the quality of these releases, especially his post-Ladyland work? I feel there are three major things:

1. Underdeveloped material: I do not feel that many of the post-Ladyland tunes were ever fully developed. Some are 100% there like Ezy Ryder, Drifting, Freedom. But often Hendrix was barely singing, borderline mumbling through these new tracks, such as Hey Baby in its multiple forms. The guitar work and most of the riffs are strong but a lot of the melodies are weak and the lyrics non-existent. Compared to the tunes on a release like Bold As Love, these tunes are simply not fleshed out nor ready for prime time.

2. Billy Cox was no Noel Redding: I get it, Noel Redding was very difficult according to some accounts. And yeah of course Jimi wanted to play with his old friend Billy. But Cox was just not of the same caliber as Redding. Cox was positively boring in comparison. It did work well on Band of Gypsys but comparing Noel’s driving bass lines and how they propelled the original Experience forward to Cox’s lines is particularly telling. I feel Cox dragged the trio down.

3. The Decline of Mitch Mitchell’s playing: After the release of Ladyland I feel that the quality of Mitchell’s drumming severely declined and is very evident in recordings of the time. Some have hinted at substance abuse but I think the blame falls mostly at Jimi’s feet. After playing with Buddy Miles, Hendrix was looking for a heavier drumming style in the group and this was the wrong thing to ask of Mitch. IMO Mitch’s swinging, beautifully busy, jazz influenced style was only secondary to Hendrix’s playing on those original sides. Mitchell is truly a genius on Bold and elsewhere. Asking him to abandon this for a plodding style influenced by pounders like Baker and Bonham was a critical error and the music suffered for it.

You’ve read my opinions (such as they are) so what are yours?

One of the issues Noel Redding had was the Hendrix would often record a bass line over noels. But you’re right in terms of the more dynamic and interesting bass lines of the experience.

davidbeinct 09-20-2022 07:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dlew919 (Post 7090290)
One of the issues Noel Redding had was the Hendrix would often record a bass line over noels. But you’re right in terms of the more dynamic and interesting bass lines of the experience.

Of course that leaves us with the question whose were they? I think Billy’s bass fit where Jimi was trying to go but of course he never got there.

mr. beaumont 09-20-2022 07:20 AM

Honestly, I hardly ever listen to the studio stuff anymore.

For me, Band of Gypsies was the pinnacle. How something can simultaneously sound SOOOO 1970 and like it's from the future blows me away.

FrankHudson 09-20-2022 11:00 AM

I could write volumes, let me try to be brief.

Obviously some of the posthumous stuff was unfinished. I don't mind that. I even enjoy warts and all recordings. They all potentially can tell us something about the art and the artist. Let those that never clammed, cast the first clam!

I'm ambivalent about what Alan Douglas did. He did want the unfinished stuff to sound as finished as possible, thinking (an arguable point) that it's better to get new listeners than deep fans who want to hear every outtake. Likely too easy to think of Douglas as a cheap exploiter. His resume with other musicians before the Hendrix recordings is considerable.

Redding as bassist. I thought he was underrated back in the day, but later I've read that it's sometimes Hendrix playing bass on studio tracks. I don't mind Billy Cox at all. Buddy Miles can grate at times (sorry, ghost of Buddy, it might be just me!) but Cox doesn't.

Mitchell. I haven't noticed the drop off, but it may be because I so admire some of his stuff (may be earlier?). JDoug has pointed out something from their listening that I may want to listen for too.

As to Hendrix not being the still unconquerable shred master or a titan of all musical forms and theory. As JDoug notes, it's beside the point. He completely redefined the electric guitar, and so changes those who don't even particularly like him.

FrankHudson 09-20-2022 11:12 AM

Anyone want a Jimi Hendrix while alive and complicated story? Here's my Jimi Hendrix 2022 observation piece:

Jimi Hendrix's Tears (a 7 minute story)

J-Doug 09-20-2022 01:20 PM

Thanks for the thoughtful responses, guys!

Re underbaked tunes: I love the tunes I feel Hendrix fully completed post-Ladyland. Some of it is his best work but various sources have released some uncompleted material that I think damages Hendrix's legacy. I really don't think Hendrix would have released it if he lived. What if someone interested in hearing Hendrix for the first time started with Both Sides of the Sky? I'd totally be turned off.

Re epic Redding vs. Cox bass battle: I'm mostly referencing Redding vs. Cox live, since yeah who knows who was actually on tape in the studio. I recommend comparing Miami (Redding) to Maui (Cox) to get a flavor of what I'm getting at. Redding is really driving the tunes forward.

Re Mitchell: definitely listen to Maui to also hear where Mitchell was at later with Hendrix. It's hard to believe it is the same drummer as Bold. And Mitchell was going for a lot of double bass ala Baker and it just wasn't gelling IMO.

FrankHudson 09-20-2022 08:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by J-Doug (Post 7090571)
Thanks for the thoughtful responses, guys!



Re Mitchell: definitely listen to Maui to also hear where Mitchell was at later with Hendrix. It's hard to believe it is the same drummer as Bold. And Mitchell was going for a lot of double bass ala Baker and it just wasn't gelling IMO.

I wonder if stage volumes were making it harder for a drummer to use more subtle techniques.

davidbeinct 09-21-2022 05:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 7090864)
I wonder if stage volumes were making it harder for a drummer to use more subtle techniques.

Was Jimi known for playing especially loud?

Dlew919 09-21-2022 07:14 AM

Not as loud as the who, but everything was turned up to 10. The feedback was only possible at high volume.

Joe Beamish 09-21-2022 07:34 AM

Jimi was a beautiful painter in the studio, especially on Electric Ladyland. For me, the more psychedelic he was, the better.

His fatback funk era was noteworthy, but the long solos are tiresome.


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