Return to A Page for Allison Steele
Here are the liner notes by Michael Fairchild of the Voodoo Soup album produced by Alan Douglas.
For the credits look here.
Songs on the Voodoo Soup album:
Twenty-seven years later, Jimi's last birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day 1969. At that time he had been working sporadically for over a year on his next studio album.
While the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, was racing to #1 in the charts in 1968, Jimi visited Hollywood's Sunset-Highland `TTG' Studios to produce an album by Eire Apparent titled Sunrise. Jimi overdubbed his guitar tracks for songs like Captive In The Sun. The JHE were also using Sunset-Highland Studios for their first post-Ladyland recording sessions. On October 23 Jimi showed up at Sunset and recorded the track titled The New Rising Sun. It was at this time that he began playing with a new maplewood guitar neck attached to his Strat. Thus began Jimi's `light neck' period. The maple Strat was his shining sword dislodged from stone, igniting a Rising Sun crusade. The TTG demo was never used, but the New Rising Sun concept emerged as a planned successor of the Electric Ladyland album. Ladyland contained interpretations of chaotic war-torn America. On the heels of nationwide riots over Martin Luther King's death, Jimi was in New York during the week-long of Columbia University. `Burn, Baby, Burn!' screamed in the streets as Hendrix echoed back House Burning Down.
Try to learn instead of burn, hear what I say...Confusion ruled the land and violence threatened everyone. Jimi's personal life and his career were further disrupted by a breach-of-contract lawsuit against him that arose out of a 1965 recording agreement he'd signed. The impending settlement proved expensive and painful. To top it off, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, then at the peak of their popularity, were embroiled in arguments and ready to disband. Increasingly Jimi spoke of directing messages in his new music towards the light of solutions:
`What we're saying is not protesting but giving the answers, or some kind of a solution. Our next LPs will be towards that scene, giving some kind of solutions for people to grasp.'Just into New Year 1969 Hendrix arrived in London, and announced his new vision. `The Electric Ladyland album was good for the time when we did it', he told the press, `but now we're on to other things. We're going to release another album. It'll be called First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. I'm trying to use my power. The Americans are looking for a leader in their music. If you give deeper thoughts in your music then the masses will buy them. First Rays Of The New Rising Sun will be about what we have seen.'
His vision of the New Light was literal and probably influenced by science fiction books he liked to read. His lyric message for New Rising Sun conforms to a `multiple sun Utopia' theme found in Arthur Clarke's novels. In a 1951 story, The Sands Of Mars, Clarke envisioned the detonation of a Martian moon into a miniature sun capable of warming that planet and making it hospitable for human life. `Project Dawn' climaxed when:
...the eastern sky was aglow with the first light of the rising sun... spilling over the horizon now the first rays were touching the hills.Similarly, when Hendrix recorded Land Of the New Rising Sun in July 1970, he sang about a planet that becomes a star:
`We're gonna go across the Jupiter Sun, and see all you people one by one...'A dozen years after Jimi wrote this, Arthur Clarke borrowed the `Project Dawn' concept of an igniting moon and altered it to become the `Jupiter Sun' climax for th film 2010, Oddyssey 2. Jimi had anticipated this Jupiter vision from a concept inspired by Clarke's 1951 novel. Both of them advance the idea the sometime around the turn of the century the gaseous planet Jupiter ignites into a second Sun for our solar system, thus making Mars inhabitable and ensuring inexhaustible resources.
`The Sun is going to give you anything and everything you want.'- Jimi`The Land Of The New Rising Sun' is Jimi's Utopian metaphor for a future world drenched in the energy of multiple-Sun plenty: civilization without want, people without need. `The solar system is going through a change soon', he predicted in 1969, `and it's going to affect the Earth in about thirty years. The Earth is going through a physical change soon, the world's gonna go like topsy-turvy and since the people are part of the Earth, they are going to feel it too. Human's forget that they're part of Earth-matter. There's gonna be a big physical change.' In a poem Jimi wrote in May '69 he encounters an extraterrestrial Jesus (`I realized that he was as spaced out as me') and asks, `What you want me to do, go back to Earth and witness the royal change of the rubble?'
`I see visions of sleeping peaks erupting, Releasing all hell that will Shake the earth from end to end...Singing about the Valleys of Sunrise Rainbow clean this world's going to be...'On his way to America in March '69 Hendrix was asked about his plans and he said, `I'm working on my own album called The First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, on which I am having a string section and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's going to straighten a lot of people out (laughs). There's another album to come from the Experience...title Little Band Of Gypsys. It's a jam type album.' Jimi had plans to produce a quick `jam album' to pay off part of the settlement stemming from the nagging lawsuit.
In Hollywood in late March he told a reporter `We have to go to New York to record from the first to the seventh and get our new LP and single together.' Asked what the title was, Jimi answered `Freedom or Both Ways. The LP will probably be called Freedom, or either Band Of Gypsys, and the single is Freedom.'
Mid-way through the final Experience tour spring 1969, Jimi reached Charleston and told the Gazette, `We're bored with the Experience. We've got to do some of our own things. That could include everything from acoustical guitar to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We're not sure what the title will be, but I think we'll call it The End Of The Beginning. Music is stronger that politics. I think the answer lies in music.'
In Toronto for arraignment on possession charges in June, Jimi told the Globe and Mail, `My next album, coming out in late summer, will be called Shine On Earth, Shine On, or Gypsy Sun. The Christmas album will be called First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. There Might be also a couple of other albums in between. A live `Albert Hall' album which we cut in London and a greatest hits thing. But I have no control over them...We have about fourty songs in the works, about half of them complete. A lot of it comprises jams - all spiritual stuff, very earthy.'
After the Experience broke up in early summer, Band Of Gypsys became a name for the musical commune that jammed with Jimi. Then a sextet assembled for Woodstock was dubbed Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. They introduces fans to new songs like Message To Love and Stepping Stone. `This is the First Ray', Jimi said from the stage, `so there's a whole lot more to go.' Is `Gypsy Sun' also a name that he used for the future Jupiter Star? In an autobiographical suite of songs composed for yet another future album titled Black Gold he sang `He comes from the Land of the Gypsy Sun'. Jimi used `Land of the New Rising Sun' and `Land of the Gypsy Sun' interchangeably, both referring to Jupiter. Further evidence of this connection is heard on early vocal tracks for what would become Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun) in which Jimi sings to `Gypsy Boy'.
`I want to do more writing', Jimi said in the winter of '70. `Mostly it's cartoon material, make up this one cat who's funny, who goes through these strange scenes... I want to get into what you'd probably call pieces, behind each other to make movements. I've been writing some of those. But I was into writing cartoons mostly... You listen to it and you get such funny flashbacks... Here was this cat came around called Black Gold, and there was this other cat called Captain Coconut. Other people came around. I was all these people.'
Two other Black Gold characters were named Astro Man and Captain Midnight. Since Black Gold `comes from the Land of the Gypsy Sun', this suggests that Jimi's First Ray Of The New Rising Sun concept may have eventually incorporated into the overall Black Gold suite. It is intriguing to further speculate on this `light/dark' motif and wonder if this Black Gold vision was somehow inspired by a black hole metaphor.
The slated names for Hendrix's new band and his evolving new songs where changing as often as was his album's title in 1969. In the autumn, drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox joined Jimi in A Band Of Gypsys. `It was the first time that there were three blacks in a group that was a power trio', notes Buddy. `It was a powerful thing.'
It had been over a year since the release of Electric Ladyland. Hendrix was under intense pressure to finish one new album to settle litigation and another new album to fulfill recording contracts. In the wake of Ladyland he spent the last two years of his life gathering songs for the follow-up studio LP. Nearly a dozen different recording studios served as the kitchens where he'd assemble ingredients during what became a drawn-out, piece-meal ordeal. Recipes for the new tunes grew out of his ever more complex tangles with tour schedules, litigation, management, bandmates, girlfriends, and general chaos related to the peak years of Vietnam/civil rights violence.
New York's Record Plant was the Main studio that Jimi returned to over and over again to spice up his cauldron of tapes with layers of licks or an experimental mix. Occasionally he'd cook up strange brews at the Sound Center in NYC or TTG Studios in Hollywood. In the winter of '69 he laid down tracks in the Olympic Studios in London. And by spring he was back in New York between concert dates, darting from Olmstead Studios to Mercury Sound. Several cuts were prepared at the Hit Factory over the summer and then in late autumn Baggies Studio contained beefy sessions by A Band Of Gypsys. On New Year's Eve the group debuted at the Fillmore East. For the first time Jimi's fans heard songs like Ezy Ryder and Earth Blues.
But despite the resulting Band Of Gypsys `jam album' from these shows that went gold in 1970 and helped settle the lawsuit, a die had already been cast in some journalist circles: 1970 was to be the year when it became fashionable to think of Jimi as on the skids, over the hill and burned out.
As a centerpiece of egalitarian hippie cultur, Hendrix invoked the wrath of some brothers and sisters when word spread in 1969 that his management was demanding and receiving record-breaking pay for Experience gigs. Other critics and fans began to pan Jimi for his lack of theatrics on stage. Then the break-up of the Experience left him more vulnerable. No matter what he did next, surely nothing could top the novelty of Jimi's first three studio LPs, or so it seemed.
In their review of the year 1969, Rolling Stone set the stage by reporting, `Jimi Hendrix had a big year. A pretty neat trick for a musician who made no music.' Jimi got the `No News Is Big News Award.' Did it matter that 1969 kicked off with an outrageous Hendrix appearance on BBC TV, followed by 25 concerts throughout Europe.? Or that a superb performance was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in February? In late March Jimi jammed with Delaney & Bonny at their Hollywood Palladium show and in April the JHE began a ten-week record-breaking arena tour of America. A delay in delivering his fourth album inspired his record company to release a compilation LP called Smash Hits, which came out and went gold just as the experience folded. Then in July Jimi made his Network TV debut on The Tonight Show and gathered his Gypsy Sun & Rainbows Band. The Dick Cavett Show and Woodstock followed in August, and in September the Rainbows played a Harlem benefit festival and showcased at New York's Salvation Club.
During 1969 Jimi wrote more than a dozen new songs and performed 57 official concerts. Because his album royalties were tied up in escrow pending settlement of the lawsuit, he was on a gigging treadmill in order to finance construction of Electric Lady, his New York dream studio. Then autumns brought more radical change when he put together A Band Of Gypsys. Gypsy Sun & Rainbows and A Band Of Gypsys were bands achieved in the face of intimidation from Jimi's British management. The Experience was a winning formula. They didn't want change.
But for all of Hendrix's efforts, all his news was `no news' to rock journalists primed to push the Golden Calf off his pedestal in 1970. Then, as if fanning the flames of his de tractors, Jimi walked off stage at his first major appearance of the new decade, a Moratorium Benefit for the bummer war. The notion that Hendrix was `already dead' during what would be his final year thus began to litter the press.
Falling from grace is the only direction left for stars at the top, especially like a supernova like the one Jimi laid on rock. But critis impatience with Hendrix should have been a mere breather from the hype, something to make his next great disc seem like a dramatic rebound. Instead, Jimi died while they were still taking pot-shots.
`The only thing that bugs me is critics. It's like shooting at a flying saucer as it tries to land, without giving the occupants a chance to identify themselves.'With his death in September 1970, assertions that Hendrix had `passed his peak' suddenly petrified to a standard postmortem view. The irony is that, musically, Jimi's visions were reaching fruition.
The issue is summed up in the book Superstars: `Had Jimi died two years earlier, he would have gone down as the greatest star in the rock `n' roll galaxy...In 1970 people were saying that Jimi was over the hill, and he never got a chance to prove them wrong...As it was, Jimi spent two years spoiling the picture and then break the frame.'
When Hendrix quit smashing axes on the stage and largely abandoned his Burlesque routines, some fans and critics accused his new `motionless virtuoso' act of their picture of a good show. `People started taking it the wrong way,' complained Jimi. `They used to come just only to see us, and not to hear us, and that was wrong.'
For his uppity rebellion, critics found reasons to pan Jimi in 1970. And then his untimely death in September left two years' worth of his brilliant new songs still unreleased. The original obituaries after his death couldn't reflect the creative peak he was at when he died. Instead, he story than Hendrix had `burned out' etched itself in the world press.
Today several generations have been inspired by Jimi's music. The haze has cleared, Hendrix had the chance to `prove them wrong', and he did. Slowly, over the past quarter century, like fragments from a deep sea wreck, recordings have surfaced and circulated. This audio evidence speaks for itself about the excellence of Jimi's final music.
Hendrix performed 43 concerts in 1970, including five major festivals. Fortunately, 28 of these `unknown shows' were captured on tape with cassettes from portable recorders in the crowd. I called the tour `The Cry Of Love', Jimi said of these 1970 shows (with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox on bass).
`Because that's what it's all about.'The Cry Of Love Tour band was the fourth official group in less than a year to work with Jimi on his new album. But from the two-month period of April 25 to June 27, thirteen live tapes live tapes remain as proof that many of Jimi's most satisfying concerts happened in the spring of 1970. A superhuman thread of energy binds these recordings together. The trials and errors with various bandmates over the past year had finally produced an ideal trio. It was during this time that the recording machines at Electric Lady Studios became operational.
`Jimi put his arse on the line financially by building his own studio', notes Mitch. `This was someone who was looking for a stake in the future.'
`I have done great things with this place', bragged Jimi. `It has the best equipment in the world. We can can record anything we like there. It is capable of recording on 32 tracks, which takes care of most things, and I'm working on a symphony production to be done there in the near future. Chuck Berry and Sly [Stone] have been down there doing things. This is a different kind of studio. It's very relaxed and it doesn't have that typical studio atmosphere. There is one thing that I hate about studios usually, and that is the impersonality of them; they are cold and blank, and within a few minutes I lose all drive and inspiration. Electric Lady is different. It has been built with great atmosphere: lighting, seating and every comfort makes people feel they are recording at home. There are lots of cushions and pillows and thick carpets and soft lights. You can have any kind of light combination you like, just what you feel like. I think this is very important. There are many capable engineers around now, the problem is this atmosphere thing. I'm into this combination of music and color, it's an extra area of awareness. I'm thinking about a film using those techniques.' The film that Jimi had in mind was titled Wave, later it was renamed Rainbow Bridge.
`His attitude in the studio was very professional, very workmanlike', recalls Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer. `He was very mich in command; in command of his instrument and his tones. It was very exciting to watch him work. I'd never witnessed anything like it. It was nothing for him to go twenty-two hours in the studio without a break until he got what he wanted. He would sit in there and play line after line until he got it perfect.'
`We'd work for all hours', confirms Buddy Miles. `Sometimes we didn't go to bed for four or five days and we just stayed at the Record Plant with Billy and we'd just work together for hours and hours.'
`Jimi would have such a set of ideas of what he wanted a record to sound like,' noted engineer Jack Adams, `he'd re-mix a song 300 times. No fooling. We'd re-mix a song for ten hours, all night, all week!'
On June 25, 1970 Jimi listed the following songs as `having backing tracks' completed:
During his final interview taped on September 11, 1970, Jimi speculated `I think we're gonna have this thing called Horizon, Between Here And Horizon, or something that pertains to that. And like that goes into certain things like Room Full Off Mirrors.' `Horizon' was another image from The Sands Of Mars:
...spilling over the horizon now the first rays...`Jimi would always write on bits and pieces', Mitch Mitchell recalls. Things would get put in the guitar case and get lost. By the time they actually get on the record sleeve, who knows what they'd be called? That was decided at the last minute. By anyone else being there, there were various titles that would be floating around, just like having various riffs. You have two pieces of a song and by the time they both get put together, they turn into another song title completely. This is one of those very nebulous, but I think he would have used First Rays Of The New Rising Sun at some point in time.'
In his last interview Jimi was asked about the effect he would like his music to have on people. `I'd like for them to get easier in their mind a little bit', he said, ` `cause there's too many heavy songs out nowadays. Music has been getting too heavy, almost to the state of unbearable. I have this one little saying: `When things get too heavy just call me Helium, the lightest known gas to man' (laughs). Asked where he gets inspiration for his songs, he replied, `From my just recent experiences (laughs). What I try to do is like look at the totality of that and give the other half, you know the solution, whatever it might be. You have the experience and then you have the use of it. But it all has to come from within. I guess a person would have to change himself in order to be a living example of what he's singing about. In order to change the world, I guess you'd have to really get your head together first before you can say anything to the world, to change it. And I was just tryin' to go through a lot of changes, then I could write the nice parts about them. Well, right now it's taking a while' (laughs).
`As far as Jimi was concerned', observed producer Alan Douglas, who supervised Hendrix's Record Plant sessions during the last half of 1969, `the four albums that came out after he died, and some material that was included on Crash Landing, the best of all those five albums was where he was going for his last vocal pop album. He carried songs with him for two years before he'd finally record them. He was going through lot during 1969 and '70: a drug bust and trial, pulling together Electric Lady Studios. His band changed three times in one year, he had bug trouble with his management because of the break up of the Experience all through 1969, them trying to put the Experience back together with Jimi trying to go in another direction; turmoil, business problems - write a song here, record a track there. Jimi jumping in and out of the kitchen, throwing some tracks in and mixing the soup up. Musical ingredients from the kitchen of the original Voodoo Child. Very eclectic, because his emotions and his inner search was changing constantly. Every time he made up his mind to do something there was a frustration. Now here comes the most difficult part of his life, the most difficult time to produce anything because he didn't have the continuity. He had completed three albums in two years. Today, artists take years to do one album. He had four bands during that period. What would that do to your continuity? It was a time of constant change and transition for him, which is the reason why we have such a disparate set of songs here. That's what makes up Voodoo Soup. It's Jimi's extraordinary musicianship and poetry that makes it taste so good.'
The New Rising Sun.
Recorded on October 23, 1968 at TTG Sunset Studios in Hollywood.
Jimi plays guitar and drums.
For the warble-wave effect, Jimi's guitar is filtered through either a
UniVibe unit or, less likely, through a rotating Leslie Speaker.
However, whereas the Leslie was available in 1968, the UniVibe dates
back only to winter '69.
So Jimi may have later in 1969 fed The New Rising Sun tapes through a
UniVibe in another studio.
Being a 16 track studio in 1968, TTG was relatively hi-tech.
It is possible that there Jimi got to try out an early experimental
model of the UniVibe while it was still under development.
There is also a chance that the master tape of The New Rising Sun was
mistakenly stored away in a `TTG' box.
The tape itself is a nine minute reel on which Jimi is heard working
alone in the studio.
Four of the tracks for this recording contain his overdubbed drum play.
Belly Button Window
An early demo was cut on July 23 at Electric Lady.
Then the master take was cut on 4-track, 1/2-inch tape on August 22,
This Brownie McGhee-style blues was Jimi's last studio recording, which
became the closing track of The Cry Of Love album in 1971.
I'm up here in this womb, and I'm lookin' all around...The divorce of his parents and his childhood poverty left Hendrix too familiar with the heartbreak of children born into unfortunate circumstances. Sometime in early 1969 Jimi drafted a song about the issue and titled it Mister and Miss Carriage Esq. The lyrics, scrawled on TWA stationary conclude with him observing, `Isn't it a shame how the lack of money can rule a life'.
While in Charlotte, N.C. on May 9, 1969, Jimi picked up some hotel stationary and further developed his lyrics under the title of Mr. and Miss Carriage:
...if you want abortion, by all means go ahead, because you know it ain't kool to bring me up without no bread especially when tha world outside is so cold, hateful and dead so legalize, if you're wise...A third draft of handwritten lyrics for this song closely resembles the finished take known as Belly Button Window, however Jimi left his last draft untitled. It is uncertain whether or not he intended to change to song's name. But in late August 1970 he booked into the Seagrove Hotel on the Isle of Wight and signed the register `Mr. & Misscarriage, Eart, Human Bean'.
`I wrote a song on abortion', said Hendrix in 1969. `They should legalize abortion. See, evolution is changing the brain, so quite naturally you gonna have hang-ups of thought, but still the whole past is going towards a higher way of thinking. But there are still some hard-heads that...don't give theirselves a chance to develop in the brain, or let their souls develop, or the emotions...This is a modern age and they do have pills for this...and some of these girls get very sick trying not to have babies. And who says that it's written that...it is a sin to, what-they-call, kill off a `child'? A child isn't a child until it comes out into the air. I don't think so. They have to think in a higher range of thinking. A lot of young people are. They're gonna get it together.'
`People who fear death, it's a complete case of insecurity. Sadness is for when a baby is born into this heavy world, and joy should be exhibited at someone's death, because they are going on to something more permanent and something infinitely better. Your body is only a physicle vehicle to carry you from one place to another without getting into a lot of trouble. So you have this body tossed upon you that you have to carry around and cherish and protect, but even that body exhausts itself. So you get into a whole lot of other scenes, which are bigger. I believe you live and live again until you have got all the evil and hatred out of the soul.'
Recorded at the Record Plant on either November 14, 1969 or January 20,
Mitch Mitchell (dr).
Billy Cox (ba).
First released on War Heroes.
Bruce Gary overdubbed drum tracks January 1995.
`We might have one single coming out soon', Jimi said in late summer '69. `It's called Izabella and the other side is Sky Blues Today.' The lyrics to `Sky Blues Today' were first heard when Jimi sang them under the sky at Woodstock. The title may have something to do with that open-air festival. A few weeks later on September 6 the Rainbows developed this song at the Hit Factory and Jimi sang some tentative lyrics:
...if I keep fucking around with you people, you gonna fell me like you fell a tree That's why I gotta keep moving all around, I wanna be alive but it's time for me to go and die. But turn around...Nine days later he made a demo of Sky Blues at the Record Plant. That same week he was taped at home working out his tune with keyboardist Mike Ephron. Then, after Jimi cut the song's basic tracks at the Record Plant, he returned to add overdubs on January 21 and February 12 and 15, 1970.
`I've been writing a whole lot of things', Hendrix said in late 1969. `In fact, we've got enough material now for another two LPs. We are trying to decide what to release at what time. You should be receiving a single around the end of January. The title? It should be another Trying To Be A Man.' Jimi originally called the tune Sky Blues and later labeled it Trying To Be A Man before it was released as a single titled Stepping Stone.
...you leave the real me outside Don't even care if I have a Heart insideBacked with Izabella, the disc came out on April 13, 1970, the same day that Apollo 13 became disabled in space. Jimi's record never charted. Only a few copies of the single were released, and only for a short time. Hendrix complained about it and it was withdrawn from circulation. `I don't know how good it is',he said. `I can't tell anymore. I never know what is going te be released. My record company just takes something off an album and issues it. Some of the copies out have no bass on them. I told the guy to re-mix it, I had to go out somewhere, but he didn't. Sure it matters. I'd like a hit single. I wanted this out before people forgot about me. If we're gonna do a single then that's in addition to the next LP coming out. We might even have the same song on the LP, only in a different version.'
Sure enough, when Stepping Stone was released on the War Heroes album in 1972, Mitch Mitchell had replaced Buddy Miles' drum tracks with his own. Jimi's guitar solos were culled from three different overdub sessions and Stepping Stone had its final touches added during Jimi's last mixing session at Electric Lady on August 24, 1970. On February 10, 1973 the War Heroes album peaked at #48 on Billboard charts.
Recorded at the Electric Lady on June 25, 1970, with Mitch Mitchell (dr),
Billy Cox (ba), Juma Sultan on congas and an unknown pianist.
The Getto Fighters (Arthur & Albert Allen) sang backing vocals.
`He had a beautiful concept of how music was supposed to get across',
recalls Arthur Allen.
`We related as people from the streets and started working on a project,
we formed a thing called Ghetto Fighters.'
`He was always progressing', noticed Albert. `He was able to play like he was because of something spiritual. He had a message to get across, it was even beyond him.'
Jimi's riff for Freedom first popped up during jams with A Band Of Gypsys. The full-blown song was debuted at the April 25, 1970 Forum show in L.A. Jimi then recorded it in New York on May 15, the same day that three black students were shot dead by troopers in Mississippi. Another demo of Freedom was cut at Electric Lady on June 16. The June 25 master take was made during the session for Drifting. Overdubs were added to both songs on August 14.
Coercion and pressure threatened Jimi and expressed itself as Freedom. He was fighting to get his girlfriend Devon off junk
...you know the drugstore man I don't need it now gonna slap it out of her handand fighting for control of his career. `With his manager, Michael Jeffery, Jimi was tense at best', states Emeretta Marks. `None of them had the money that was supposed to be coming in. The main issue was that Jimi got tired of being ripped off and Michael didn't want him to change. Jimi came right out and said it. I was in the office. I heard the yelling and screaming and then Jimi stormed out.'
`Jeffery didn't like the idea of A Band Of Gypsys coming together', said Arthur, `and he expressed that. Jimi was deeply offended that Jeffery would interfere with a creative decision. That's when he expressed a serious desire to break away from him.'
`There were certain influences on his life', explains Eddie Kramer, `management, political situations that were developing during that time, which Jimi was caught up in and which he didn't want to be caught up in. He felt that his music was much more important and that `other forces', so to speak, were getting in the way of his creativity.'
In April 1971 Freedom reached #59 in the charts when it was released as a single b/w Angel. Freedom was also the opening track for The Cry Of Love Album.
Recorded on July 23, 1970 at Electric Lady with Mitch Mitchell (dr) and
Billy Cox (ba).
After Jimi dies, Mitch worked to complete Angel `It became apparent quickly when we were going through the tapes', said Mitch, `that a couple of drum overdubs were essential. I'd given Jimi a drum kit for Electric Lady, an old Gretsch I'd used at Berkely, and doing the overdubs was the first time I'd seen that drum kit since I'd given it to him. It felt strange. And it's kind of ironic that Angel was the most difficult and jogsaw-like track to put together, and yet it became the most coveted of Jimi's songs.' Angel first appeared on The Cry Of Love.
Hendrix told Emeretta that Angel was inspired by a heavenly dream. `He was riding across water on a boat', she recalls. `Going across the sea he passed another boat and there was a figure inside. As he passed, he turned to look and it was his mother's face going by him to the other shore.'
`Dreams come from different moods', Jimi once said, `like after death is the end and the beginning. You have to give them a little bit to dream on so they can hear it over again, `cause they might be in a different mood.'
Against the glow of the Child Sunrise...she said, `I love you little boy, and today you shall fly.' She kissed me once and the feeling was so good she made me cry and now we can fly together...together we shall always be alive
In August 1967 the Experience were filmed at the Rudolf Valentino mansion in Los Angeles. There they spent time inside a room that was covered from floor to ceiling with mirrors. Months later Jimi sketched an audio demo of Catfish Blues and began transforming this Muddy Waters tribute into his own epic Voodoo Chile. Jimi sang:
...as far as Jupiter's sulphur mine, down by the methane sea, my room is made of mirrors, I see you but Lord knows I can't see me...In Denver on September 2, 1968, on the heels of the Chicago riots, Jimi scripted his Letter to the Room Full Of Mirrors, in which he wrote: `the sky cracked wide open...`That's Law and order', said the Border guard... splitting both suns apart...'
Jupiter is the planet of Law, an ignitable `sulphur mine' other Sun. Jupiter rules Sagittarius, the Hendrix Sun sign. At the moment of Jimi's birth, the Moon and Jupiter stood aligned in conjuntion. A Sage had arrived. Room Full Of Mirrors prepresents the first glimmer of First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. The `mirrors' image surfaced out of Muddy's Catfish Blues. This was the key ingredient, the Voodoo Chile nutrient. Out of this primordial stew sprang Jimi's Jupiter premonition.
You gave down into a really bad scene before you can come up with light again. - JimiThe Sands Of Mars was not the only sci-fi story to ignite interest in `light'. Jimi's purple haze lyrics were an inspired re-working of Philip Jose Farmer's book, Night Of Light, in which violent Sunspot activity bathes and alien planet in a recurring `purplish haze', driving the inhabitants to either sleep or madness.
Room Full Of Mirrors represents Jimi's first reay emerging out of the purple haze. Both New Rising Sun and Mirrors were conceived in the immediate heat of Ladyland. The three descending chords of New Rising Sun are reversed into the three ascending chords of Room Full Of Mirrors, representing the rise to perceptual breakthrough.
See nothin' but Sunshine, all around...Jimi emphasizes the uplift with an octavia-heightened pitch effect, and with slides of his ring up the frets. Heavy echo conveys endless reflections.
Hendrix unveiled Mirrors at the Record Plant on August 12, 1968. It had been a year since his trip to the Valentino Mansion mirror room. During autumn '68 he rented a house in L.A. and worked on Mirrors at Sunset-Highland Studios. Paul Caruso added harp tracks to these unreleased takes. `Jimi was very Jovian, you know', said Paul.
Some lyric variation for Mirrors were tried out in concert. Jimi highlighted this tune during jams with members of Traffic at an Albert Hall concert in February '69, and again a month later at the Hollywood Palladium with Delaney & Bonnie. Demos of Room Full Of Mirrors were cut at Olympic Studios in London during the winter of '69, and again at the Record Plant on April 21. Then, on stage just hours after his Toronto bust for drug possession on May 3, Jimi used Mirrors to reflect his dilemma. A year later the number reached perfection on stage at the L.A. Forum Cry Of Love concert.
`Room Full Of Mirrors' required a great deal of work', recalls Kramer. `We spent a great deal of time overdubbing. In a continuing series we added guitars and created some intricate panning effects before finishing.'
`I don't think we'll ever finish that', joked Jimi. `That's more of a mental disarrangement that a person might be thinking; `broken glass used to be all in my brain' and so forth. It's about trying to get out of this room full of mirrors, to get out of that and get into something else and see the world completely. Like they say, `on a clear day you can see forever', and all that bullshit. Everybody who's been through this trip, when you get real high and all you can see is you, reflections are there and there. I guess I'll try and get rid of that hang up.'
Room Full Of Mirrors was released in October 1971 on Rainbow Bridge, the second posthumous Hendrix LP. Rainbow Bridge contained sountrack music for a film of the same title.
Recorded at Olmstead Sound Studios, NYC in April 1969.
Mitch Mitchell (dr), Noel Redding (ba).
First released on the fourth posthumous Hendrix LP, War Heroes, in
`The Experience never split up for me', states Mitch. `Jimi and I always played together, and it was fun. Even while A Band Of Gypsys was going on, we carried on working in the studio together.' The last masterpiece from the Experience in the studio was Midnight. Noel Redding claims that the instrumental was inspired when `I did my Booker T. riff', referring to a Booker T & MGs tune called Homegrown. `Jimi asked me to show it to him on the guitar.'
Globs of molten steel belch heavy industrial vibrato in this original GuiTarzan metal instrumental. The results remain Jimi's most intense extremities reached in the studio since Voodoo Chile (slight return). At the crack of Midnight the past is eclipsed. A new sun rises and casts the first ray.
Night Bird Flying.
Recorded at Electric Lady on June 16, 1970, with Mitch Mitchell (dr) and
Billy Cox (ba).
Overdub sessions on August 14 and 22.
Night Bird Flying was slated to be the flip-side of a planned Dolly Dagger single. Jimi compared the two songs and concluded that Night Bird `is nicer, much more of a real song'. Asked for his opinion about popular music at that time he replied `It's a reflection. See the reflection is like the blues. And there's this other kind of music that's trying to come up. It's not Sunshine music necessarily, it's more an easier type of thing with less worries and more meaning to it.' A poem in his handwriting reads;
Hello night bird. How was your day? Did you visit the gods in the valleys far away? What did you bring me, in your visit from the sea?Scrawled underneath, girlfriend Devon Wilson answered `I brought you me!'. However, Allison Steele, New York's WNEW DJ known as `The Night Bird', was told that it was she who was the inspiration for this song title. `After Jimi died', explains Steele, `I was doing a radio memorial tribute to him and I got a phone call from Jimi's manager, Michael Jeffery. He was driving on the highway and had to get off to call me because he thought it was a great tribute, and did I know that Jimi wrote Night Bird Flying for me?' Night Bird Flying was released on The Cry Of Love album.
Recorded at Electric Lady on July 23, 1970.
Mitch Mitchell (dr) and Billy Cox (ba).
On June 25 Jimi had cut a demo of Drifting and then said to Eddie
Kramer, `Let me do some sea sounds'.
The performance that followed was serene, it was take six.
`That's the one!', declared Kramer.
`Did you record it?', Jimi asked.
`Sure did', Eddie replied, `have a listen'.
Jimi approved take six and on August 14 he returned to ass overdubs to
Final touches were done posthumously.
`We had two guitar tracks', explains Mitch.
`One had gone through the UniVibe `Leslie' effect and we had another one
in another key.
So we dropped the speed on it.
Then I got Buzy Linhart in for the session on vibes.'
`Everything had been completed', remembers Linhart. `Except Jimi didn't know whether he was going to add another rhythm guitar track or a set of vibes. I remember being on the other side of the glass from Mitch and Eddie. It was just the three of us. It was very poignant, man, it was like Jimi was still in the room. I was alone in there. I remember at the time being really happy that he as doing some of his backward guitar solos on that. There were no charts written out and it was not an easy thing to play, there's this chromatic movement that happens. On piano every chord is totally different position. With vibes it's four mallets and you gotta hit it. It's real hard. I wanted them to let me take a tape home and they were worried that someone would make a copy and bootleg it. So I wasn't allowed to take it home. I did drifting in one day, in one hour! I wanted another hour with it or go to lunch and come back, because I had just learned the thing. By the time it was over I was just getting used to the form of the song. I think it's one of the most beautiful things he'd ever written. The lyrics alone, how can people alone miss what a poet this guy was? That wild character thing was such a myth in his case, I mean the shyest that ever existed. If he bothered to open his mouth, it was pretty deep.' Drifting was included on The Cry Of Love album.
Recorded at the Record Plant on December 18, 1969 with Buddy Miles (dr)
and Billy Cox(ba).
At Olympic Studios on December 20, 1967 Noel Redding recorded an acetate of a song he wrote titled Dance. Jimi liked the basic riff and began to develop it on his own. Five months later at the Record Plan he recorded an experimental arrangement and dubbed it Mushy Name. The riff then lay dormant for a year until the JHE cut an instrumental ate the Record Plan based on the theme. In autumn '69, after seeing the Peter Fonda cycle flick names Easy Rider (which was the first Hollywood film to include Experience music) Jimi wrote lyrics under the title of Ezy Ryder and adapted them to a new guitar arrangement based on the Dance/Mushy Name theme.
On December 10 a Toronto jury acquitted Jimi of drug possession charges. He returned to New York to recover from a cold and then the following week he plunged into Ezy Ryder. The tune's exuberance captures his acquittal elation after seven months of preparation for the trial. During a New Year's Eve Fillmore East Band Of Gypsys debut, he introduced Ezy Ryder.
`I was more or less the leader of A Band Of Gypsys', claims Buddy Miles. `A Band Of Gypsys was originally supposed to be Steve Winwood, Billy Cox, Jimi and myself.' Steve Winwood and Chris Wood of Traffic teamed up to adding backing vocals to Ezy Ryder. Jimi took the tapes to Electric Lady and added eight guitar overdubs to the December 18 basic tracks.
`No offense to Peter Fonda and the cycle maniacs', he said, `but we do a thing called Ezy Ryder. It was fun to watch the film, I think it was outtasight. It said a lot of things, but who wants to get blown up in the end? It gave us an idea to do a little song the way we see it. It's the same title Grease Slider...
In a cloud of LSD I think I see a freek...`Ezy Ryder and Dolly Dagger were the most challenging songs we did', claims Billy Cox, `because there were so many intricate parts we put on them. I remember when we were recording them I'd look up and there was no one in the studio but Jimi, myself, Mitch, Eddie and maybe our old ladies.'
Kramer assistent Kim King recalls, `Eddie and Jimi were doing a four-handed mix on the console while I was doing the flanging - actually holding my thumb on the tape machine's pitch, and by varying that by microcycles, the notes were beating against each other. The sound was fantastic.' Melody Maker dubbed it `the fulles, most majestic track, expounding all that is Hendrix - the eternal electric myth, once a man.'
`There was just something different about him', notes Buddy. `He must have gone through something that we didn't go through. He experienced something. Even today my mind still wonders about that guy, because he was just too, too much. He had a world all of his own. He had an artform with his guitar style that I think still today is the most sought after. He was just God's gift to this world when it came to that guitar and what he had to say in his messages.'
Ezy Ryder was released in February 1971 on the first posthumous Hendrix LP, The Cry Of Love. which reached #3 on Billboard's chart.
Recorded at Electric Lady on July 1, 1970, with Mitch Mitchell (dr) and
Billy Cox (ba).
`As Dolly Dagger began to come apart', recalls Kramer, `Billy Cox started playing the bass line to Gimme Some Loving, The Spencer Davis Group song, and that developed into a jam.'
`After three minutes or so', continues John Jansen, `Hendrix began playing this beautiful melody and the rest of the guys fell in behind him. That was Pali Gap.'
`I think Mike Jeffery was responsible for the title', explains Mitch. `I didn't hear Jimi use it. They were in the studio mixing it, and it's what they put down on the box. It's just on of those things that stuck.'
In the 1971 film Rainbow Bridge Jimi's friends are seen lifted up a hillside by powerful winds while Pali Gap is heard as the soundtrack. The powerful winds are Pali winds, caused by a Gap in Maui's Oahu mountains. The Pacific jet stream is caught and channeled in rushing currents through the range passageways. The feeling of Jimi's breezy , uplifting instrumental likely conjured Pali memories and inspired the Pali Gap title.
`I know where the winds blow', recalls Mitch, `They're really serious. The thing about Hawaii was that we were looking at various points into having a recording complex there for relaxation. Pali Gap was a very spontaneous jam. It's like you have certain riffs and you start playing along, and we'd play extensions. We were fans of the same sort of music, Curtis Mayfield, Wes Montgomery, people like that, so if you share those reference points, it helps in terms of knowing where a certain sequence is likely to lead. I could hear what he was doing. I found it very easy.'
Jimi guitar achieves organ-like tones from the UniVibe. Lead and rhythm tracks intertwine and swap roles. Tony Glover described in Rolling Stone how Pali `flows in waves, rippling like wine running slowly down dusk-lit marble stones.' The tune was first heard in 1971 on the Rainbow Bridge album, which hit #15 on Billboard's charts in October of that year.
Message To Love
Recorded on January 20, 1970 at the Record Plant, with Buddy Miles (dr)
and Billy Cox (ba).
This same session produced Earth Blues.
Earlier versions of both songs had been taped at the Record Plant on
December 19, 1969.
`Jenny Dean and I had a box at the Fillmore', explains singer Emeretta Marks. `It was New Years Eve and the roadie said, `We got you all said up'. I said `What?!' Behind the maroon curtains they had two mikes set up. You could hear Jenny and me our there but you couldn't see us. On Message To Love we sang `YEAH! OHH!' After a couple of tunes I stopped. I didn't mind doing it for Jimi, but Buddy had an attitude, he was trying to turn Hendrix into The Buddy Miles Band. And I'm not getting paid for this and I wanted to go out in front and enjoy the concert.'
`Then those vocal parts were done in the studio too. Jimi called me into the city. They sent a limo. Jimi was with Buddy in the booth and they were playing Message To Love, Jimi said `C'mon and sing this part. C'mon Emeretta, I made them come git you.' So someone plugged me in and gave me a headset. Buddy was content singing the lower part, so I got up to `YEAH!' - four and a half octaves in C! I could hit that stuff.'
The main guitar riff for Message To Love was introduced during Jimi's Spanish Castle Magic solo at the February 18, 1969 Albert Hall concert. Three months later he developed the theme further at the San Jose Pop Festival, shortly after composing a similar descending riff for Earth Blues. Lyrics were added during the summer and the `Everybody come alive' section of Message also resembles the repeated vocal/guitar unison used in Earth Blues. Message To Love became the opening keynote for Jimi's August set at Woodstock.
`We did this one thing called Message To Love', he said, `while everybody's rapping about love. So we'll put our two-cents' worth in and see what it sounds like. Message To Love is something that everybody needs a whole lot of about this time. Everybody knows about that. We'd like to just bathe in it for a second - for always actually.'
Message To Love was released on the Crash Landing album in 1975.
Peace In Mississippi
Record at TTG Sunset-Highland Studios in Hollywood on October 24, 1968
with Mitch Mitchell (dr) and Noel Redding (ba).
This six Winterland gigs in October '68 were the last Experience shows to feature a rosewood neck attached to Jimi's Strat. During his TTG Sunset-Highland sessions two weeks later, Jimi was first photographed fingering a maple neck to administer Peace In Mississippi. This music captures his exhilaration at a time when the JHE's Electric Ladyland album was racing the top of the charts. At last, with media now chronicling his every move, Hendrix possessed license to reveal serious intentions with his art. With his new `light neck' scepter, he ignites a First Ray crusade. Peace In Mississippi sounds the alert; a warpath-around-the-bonfire, dance of the Shaman instrumental.
Mississippi has roots in blues in the sense that Hendrix was reconstructing harmonic/melodic riffs developed mainly from the 12-bar chord statement. He transplanted these figures and motifs to non 12-bar blues forms. In Story Of The Blues Paul Oliver reported `Every African instrument has a drone, a vibrator or other device which produces a buzzing note or in some other way destroys a totally pure note. Such sound elements may be in the nature of the instrument itself, but if not, they will be added - a handful of beans or small stones will be put inside a calabash or in a drum, a length of chain will hang from the sanza `thumb piano'.' In Mississippi, Jimi's blues mutate as music morphing into not necessarily Heavy Metal, but sensuous textures.
Peace In Mississippi first appeared on the Crash Landing album, which hit #5 on Billboard's chart in March 1975.
In From The Storm
Record on July 21 and 22 at Electric Lady.
Mitch Mitchell (dr) and Billy Cox (ba). Released on The Cry Of Love.
`I was on stage with Jimi at Randall's Island [July 17, 1970]', Said Emeretta Marks. `Jimi had a new thing he wanted me to sing. It was already formed in our heads at Randall's Island. But I didn't prepare for it. I heard it in Jimi's hotel room. Billy was around and we were singing up in Jimi's room and Jimi was playing 12-string. He played the song to me, the idea, and I listened to it. Stephen Stills was around too. There's three of us on some takes.
`I was in the studio most of the time while they were putting it together. The Ghetto Fighters were there. Mitch was there and Eddie Kramer. Originally Eddie tried the four of us, but the voices didn't blend. Mitch was singing, but he was off key. There was no problem with Billy. They were all in there and the studio was supposed to be emptied or else I wasn't going to sing. I told Jimi I didn't want to record with anybody else in the studio, I'm tired of interference.'
`The track as we know it was mostly done and they just had to put the vocals on. We did it in Studio 2, because Studio 1 wasn't ready. I remember Eddie hooked up the headset to the mike and there were only two sets of phones, for me and Jimi. So I sang with Jimi. He didn't play guitar while he sang, but we started running this track and Jimi started singing the lead and we were side by side. He didn't tell me what to sing, but he sang with me. There's nobody else's voices others than his or mine. I overdubbed five, maybe six background parts. I sang all these high parts. He sang lead and I did some harmony, then he did some harmony. He didn't really know how to sing back up.'
In From The Storm quickly became a staple at Jimi's concerts, with filmed portions of the song existing from Maui, Isle Of Wight, and Stockholm. The tune's strong hook made it ideal for stage interpretation. Storm became the final addition to Jimi's concert repertoire.
I just came back today. I just came back from the storm...
All songs written by Jimi Hendrix and published by Bella Godiva Music. ASCAP. Worldwide Administration Don Williams Music Group.
Return to A Page for Allison Steele