The authority of the playing displayed on a song like “Voodoo Child” is so firm and complete that it explains the world’s attraction to the artistry of Jimi Hendrix. It’s such a command of the musical vision/statement that the song’s appearance in a pop culture moment like Steven Segal’s film Under Seige is one of the many reasons why people who appreciate superb writing and playing keep going back to the Jimi Hendrix well. It’s the most dramatic event in an interesting but still corny film.
“Gloomy Monday” has elements of the “Sunshine of Your Love” riff just as opening track “How Would You Feel” draws heavily from Bon Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.” Those two compositions – and the artists that spawned them – Cream and Dylan – were essential parts of the Hendrix repertoire and spirit. The influences of the man who would influence millions more. But an album that is important because of the historical impact of an artist – as is this artifact titled “You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP / PPX SESSIONS by Curtis Knight & The Squires” – is not going to be the first thing you grab to be entertained. But God bless Eddie Kramer for putting the music together in a way which lifts the veil away from the cloudy, murky quagmire that were the two releases on Capitol – the notorious but you-gotta-have-in-your-collection Get That Feeling and Flashing discs, along with the plethora of descendants that they helped spawn, a variety of imports and domestic pressings – so many other voluminous releases that made their way nine to the universe and beyond, so to speak.
This offering’s listening experience – and John McDermott’s always essential and detailed liner notes – contain true revelations for those of us collecting this material for 45 years or more and not knowing the proper context That context being: how the heck they were recorded, and where they fit into the puzzle of so much product – be it official releases, bootlegs or Purple Haze Records or where we really get lost and sidetracked – the internet waterfall – that blur of fan chatter (and the download onslaught that accompanies it…) as well as YouTube offerings – the Dusty Sprinfield/Jimi Hendrix duet being a favorite of that fare – and other platforms where Jimi lives on.
The complexity for the novice who likes Hendrix is sometimes equal to the confusion “experienced” by the obsessed long-time individuals – those who truly appreciate Jimi’s work (some not even knowing why) – all looking for enlightenment to navigate the fabric that is the ever expanding Hendrix museum of modern art.
You Can’t Use My Name has the daunting task of bringing that morass of the PPX/RSVP tapes to some kind of uniformity, where Jimi’s work at that point of time can be viewed with more clarity.
At least the Hendrix live tape with Little Richard is Jimi working with a star in his own league. If released on CD combined with Penniman/Hendrix studio work, it becomes a single moment that is easier for all to grasp and understand. Recorded by mastering engineer Little Walter DeVenne, and discovered during an interview Walter did with my TV show Visual Radio in 1995 (a tape which Experience Hendrix’s John McDermott got to hear when Walter played the WTBS/WMBR broadcast tape for us (yes, Walter played the Little Richard concert with Hendrix on his radio show on WTBS – now WMBR) the tape is, as stated, that single moment in early Hendrix time that is easy to understand. It’s Little Richard with Jimi. It’s Little Richard singing “Lucille” and “I Saw Her Standing There” with Jimi Hendrix – two stars who stand far beyond the relatively unknown Squires, a group known because of their association with Hendrix, not his association with them.
Here’s the complete track list of the live Penniman/Hendrix Experience: Little Richard: – I Saw Her Standing There, Lucille, Send Me Some Lovin’, Medley – Rip It Up / Tutti Frutti / Jenny, Jenny
– Shake A Hand – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
See some fan’s “Early Hendrix” site for more info: http://www.earlyhendrix.com/richard-menu-live
Add the live tape to the Little Richard studio recordings and you have the definitive Little Richard/Hendrix which
Is, in my opinion, even more essential. It’s Jimi blazing a trail on hit music with one of the most influential stars of early rock and roll.
These were the days before Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin psychedelicized the world, “”And my soul has been psychedelicized?” as the Chambers Brothers so succinctly put it. And it was the psychedelicization that came with “Piece of My Heart” and “Purple Haze” by Joplin and Hendrix, respectively, which changed the lives of those of us who were and are children of the sixties.
When Buzzy Linhart heard opening track “How Would You Feel” the first time he certainly had a chuckle (and stated “Hendrix deserves co-writing credit!) The “Like A Rolling Stone” riff was a key component of the Jimi Hendrix Experience – as stated above – and an important part of Jimi’s personal repertoire, a terrific live version of the Dylan classic with Buzzy Linhart on drums, Al Kooper on keyboard, Noel Redding on bass which proves just that. Which, of course, gives “How Would You Feel” the perfect entrée to the CD, You Can’t Use My Name, and one of the discs most compelling moments.
For those of us who are enamored of and love Jimi, “Like A Rolling Stone” is a key song. In the lyric Bob Dylan warns Buzzy Linhart to get away from his drummer in the Seventh Sons, who allegedly was the diplomat with the Siamese cat..
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Jimi Hendrix jammed with Buzzy at the Seventh Sons’ loft, while the Music album from Linhart was one of the first to be recorded at Electric Lady studios with Eddie Kramer, key information which makes hearing Jimi’s charging and slinky creeping “How Would You Feel” first cousin guitar riff a distinct look at Hendrix without that “psychedlicization” discussed earlier.
Play Track 1 from the Capitol Records lp “How Would You Feel” followed by Track 2, “Hornet’s Nest” from the Flashing lp, also on Capitol, tracks 1 and 11 on this new CD, and the lesson begins. Ahhh to go back in time and make the “Hornet’s Nest” accompaniment more Ventures in style than the manic keyboard/drum heavy jam that it is, Hendrix playing with decent but lesser talents. Perhaps that’s what makes this more of an investigative adventure than something you will play repeatedly, certainly not with so much invigorating Hendrix material within reach. “Fool For You Baby” is fun enough, but Knight – a good singer who hardly struck fear into the hearts of Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield – is not in Jimi’s league. That’s the point, isn’t it? That reason alone makes the issuing of the true Little Richard / Hendrix tapes all the more essential. Richard Penniman, a wizard and a true star, is in Jimi’s outrageously famous stratosphere, and that the two paired up was a cosmic, albeit brief, storm.
Imagine being Curtis Knight and having a platform to be heard worldwide because Jimi Hendrix was your guitarist and a piece of paper got Capitol Records, the Beatles label, to give you a chance to release “Day Tripper” with Jimi Hendrix on bass? (as John McDermott’s liner notes emphasize.)
An opportunity of a lifetime that Curtis Knight couldn’t capitalize on to secure himself as a world class artist. “Don’t Accuse Me” ends side two of the Flashing album on Capitol and is track three on this marvelous early Hendrix CD, but it is marvelous only in that it shows us Jimi’s work in another light. Again, it’s the efforts of Eddie Kramer which improve the old tapes, which bring these fragments of Jimi history into a space where they can be listened to, dissected, and utilized to appreciate the master craftsman who set the standard for the electric guitar.
The fusion of “Knock Yourself Out” – track #43 on the old PPX boxed set – with “Flying on Instruments” – one of four instrumentals from the RSVP label, is smart, seamless and is again, quasi Ventures gone somewhat fuzzy and heavy.
Do we need this music? Yes, it’s great to have, and important to put the messy history that is the PPX legacy in the world of Jimi into some kind of compartment that is easier to grasp and comprehend. But at the end of the day, I want to pull out the Jimi Hendrix music that is the reason that we all flipped out the first time we heard the magical first notes of “Purple Haze.”
These are the fragments, and they give us a greater appreciation of Jimi Hendrix when he’s totally in control, writing, singing and playing. Perhaps my colleagues Buzzy Linhart (who finds the CD fun) and Ed Wrobleski will have a different perspective, I’m sure they will. But this is my take and for history’s sake, I thank Janie Hendrix, John McDermott and Eddie Kramer for getting this music out in this form.
Post Script: With all the litigation surrounding these tapes, the humorous thing is that Billy Ocean on Sony Music U.K. – the same label – has a song “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”. ( (C) 1988 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited ) which has a very close hook to “How Would You Feel” written by the late Curtis Knight, PPX Publishing. Can anyone say “My Sweet Lord” / “He’s So Fine.”
The Hollywood Reporter states that there are 88 master tapes in all.
The deal between Experience Hendrix LLC and Legacy Recordings is for the full and complete rights to 88 studio and live recordings by Curtis Knight & the Squires (featuring Jimi Hendrix) and concludes a long-running legal dispute between the Hendrix estate and onetime rights holder Ed Chalpin. Terms were not disclosed. Hendrix’s long-time sound engineer Eddie Kramer will oversee the reissues, which will be released by Legacy Recordings over the next three years.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.