Thursday, May 24, 2018

Band of Gypsys


"Some Old Friends With A Brand New Name..."
      After several months of touring in America and Europe, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played what would end up being their last gig together on June 29th, 1969 at the Denver Pop Festival. Looking for new band projects, Jimi played the Woodstock Festival on August 18th with an adhoc large ensemble dubbed "Gypsy Sun And Rainbows", carried mostly by Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox (old army buddy/King Kasuals bandmate) on bass.

     At the end of 1969, Jimi was contractually obligated to deliver a new album to his management in order to settle some disputes with rival label Capitol (who had been putting out "bootlegs" of Jimi's pre-Experience recordings). With both the Experience and Gypsy Sun and Rainbows eventually falling apart, GS&R bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles (another old bandmate, and now drummer/vocalist for the Electric Flag and Buddy Miles Express) stepped in to help Jimi form a "Band of Gypsys" to play four live sets at the Fillmore East in Lower Manhattan. With "hometown" friends backing him up, Jimi continued to blend his older R&B funk roots with his newer, more sonically-liberated approach, this time in live settings spread out over Dec 31st 1969 and Jan 1st 1970.

Sound Effects
     The Band of Gypsys LP was for most people their first time hearing Jimi play live. Listening to the studio albums, it would seem to be impossible to duplicate the same kind of audio acrobatics heard on those tracks (flanging, panning, reverse tape, unusual miking techniques, etc...). Nonetheless, listeners weren't disappointed, since for these shows Jimi delivered various otherworldly tones through a battery of pedal effects, most of which were designed or modded by inventor Roger Mayer.  Some of these effects included a Uni-Vibe phase shifter, an Octavia harmonizer, Fuzz Face distortion and a wah-wah pedal (often in combination).

     A more controversial new element to the Hendrix sound was Buddy Miles' contributions. As a bandleader himself (Buddy Miles Express), he naturally assumed a co-leader role on stage, offering up spontaneous audience participation routines and background vocals. Jimi, in his good-natured way, tried to make room for Buddy's material, but in the end, much of his call and response clap-along material was edited out of the selected tracks for release. Billy Cox, on the other hand, was a much more natural shift in personnel, since in Electric Ladyland Jimi had already contributed many bass tracks himself, employing a funkier, more Motown style of bass playing than Noel Redding was comfortable with delivering. Billy's arrival was probably one of the best things to happen to Jimi at this point, as his modal, jam-oriented style was much closer to what Jimi had in mind for his original vision of the Experience (in this respect, Buddy Miles' role as a freight-train drummer was also much more appreciated). Even after the departure of Miles, Cox would stay on and provide a solid, reliable bottom for Jimi's next projects.

Recordings
     Recorded under the supervision of Hendrix gig veteran Wally Heider, the Band of Gypsys ended up performing 23 different songs over the 4 sets, broken down as follows:
  • 7 Jimi Hendrix Experience numbers: "Fire", "Stone Free", "Foxy Lady", "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", "Purple Haze", "Wild Thing", "Hey Joe".
  • 3 Buddy Miles songs: "Changes", "We Gotta Live Together", "Stop" (actually a cover sung by Miles).
  • 7 Gypsy Suns and Rainbows tunes: "Lover Man", "Hear My Train A Comin'", "Izabella", "Machine Gun", "Bleeding Heart" (Elmore James), "Stepping Stone", and "Message to Love".
  • 5 original Band of Gypsys songs: "Power of Soul", "Ezy Ryder", "Earth Blues", "Burning Desire", and "Who Knows".
  • "Auld Lang Syne"
The core numbers (played in at least 3 of the 4 sets) were "Power Of Soul" (4 times), "Changes" (4), "Machine Gun" (4), "Stop" (3), "Earth Blues" (3), and "Burning Desire" (3).

     A record titled Band of Gypsys was quickly assembled from these cuts in order to satisfy the impatient demands of the record company and management. Several additional albums over the following decades have been released documenting these concerts, and analyses of the individual albums (in release order) follow. Overall, while the studio "original" albums highlight Jimi as an innovative composer and sound-sculptor, these raw recordings of the Band of Gypsys live unit really display how virtuosic his guitar playing was in an improvisational setting. There are of course, miscues here and there (just as in any true live recording), but overall these are incredible documents of a true genius at work.

Jump to:

Band of Gypsys (1970)
     In contrast to Hendrix's previous album, "Electric Ladyland", "Band of Gypsys" was rawer and even more politically visceral. The last Hendrix album to be released in Jimi's lifetime under his personal supervision, these sessions give the best sign to the future direction he would have taken, had he lived. During the selection of tracks for this 1970 Capitol LP, Jimi withheld numbers which he intended to later release on a "real" album. A fair amount of Buddy Miles' vocal patter was also edited out of the final track "We Gotta Live Together". The cuts here are almost all "final takes" from the 2nd night. Finally, almost none of these tracks were reissued in any other collection, making this still a "must have" of Jimi's discography.
Trk  Title Time

1 Who Knows 9:34      This tune is basically one modal riff, but Jimi uses his effects here to create lots of biting, bluesy textures. Buddy also does a lengthy vocal scat solo in the middle section (I suspect Jimi went backstage to retrieve some pedal effects he forgot to plug in?). This is the 2nd rendition of this tune (it was previously featured just after "Auld Lang Syne" on the 1st night's post-midnight set).

From Set 3.

0:00: Intro vamp, guitar eventually moves to a lower register riff after a brief lead break.
0:55: Jimi and Buddy trade vocal calls, guitar shadows Jimi's vocal line (blues style).
1:41: Guitar solo over vamp.
2:16: 2nd verse (Jimi vocal only).
2:49: Wah guitar solo, drums double time in the beginning.
3:50: Descending vamp variation, leading to 3rd verse with Buddy on vocals, Guitar lays out as Buddy takes a "scat" solo.
6:21: Jimi plugs back in and begins employing phase shifter/harmonizer, wah, etc.
8:58: Guitar resumes riff with effects, final accents.
2 Machine Gun 12:38      Largely considered the highlight of the album, this tune features some of Jimi's rawest, most visceral playing on record. It's the band's 3rd rendition out of 4. Like the rendition on the 1st night's 1st set, Buddy takes a short vocal solo.

From Set 3.

0:00: Tuning and talk.
0:22: Flanged guitar intro based on a modal vamp with accented "machine gun hits", joined by bass and drums.
1:04: Vamp groove and guitar embellishments.
1:44: 1st verse (each verse punctuated by machine gun hits motif).
2:50: 2nd, 3rd verses.
3:57: Guitar solo.
5:28: Guitar solo continues over "machine gun" groove snare accents, accented bass.
7:30: Guitar returns to rhythmic playing as Buddy begins background vocal chant under 4th verse.
8:45: Guitar textures with feedback, whammy and percussive "machine gun" accents in dialogue with drums.
9:50: Buddy vocal improv.
10:30: Clean whammy bar/wah guitar solo, Buddy plays variations of the machine gun motif.
11:40: Noise guitar coda.
12:17: Applause, chat.
3 Changes 5:11      This is a Buddy Miles tune with Buddy on vocals. Jimi offers up a fine wah solo and tasty rhythm comping, but he essentially takes on more of a sideman role here than the other songs. This is the 4th and final live rendition (5th if counting the Baggy's rehearsal).

From Set 4.

0:00: Intro, count off, intro vamp.
0:15: Lead melody riff on wah guitar, R&B funk groove.
0:32: 1st verse (Buddy).
1:06: Melody riff, 2nd verse.
1:55: Lead melody, stop-time guitar break, solo (wah).
2:44: Rhythmic guitar riffing, opening up into a clap-along.
4:18: Jimi begins adding more soul guitar chords, ramping up the groove back into the lead melody.
4:43: Buddy drum break, final rave up/accent.
4 Power to Love
(Power of Soul)
6:55      Built on a tricky, syncopated riff, this is pretty progressive  stuff for "soul music" of this time. The song also changes key a few times, breaking up the modal mood here and there. This is the 4th and final live rendition (5th if counting the Baggy's rehearsal).

From Set 4.

0:00: Accented intro break, intro figure based on heavy riff.
0:19: Wailing opening lead over riff, vamp modulates using heavy riff.
1:21: Intro figure, 1st verse modal groove, punctuated by heavy riff cadences.
2:01: "Rock n roll" bridge.
2:13: Heavy riff (syncopated), Buddy chorus.
2:36: Modulated bridge figures.
3:00: Fuzz guitar solo.
3:42: Extended modal verse groove, changing dynamics.
5:19: Modulations, syncopated heavy riff, Buddy chorus with Jimi vocal ad-libs.
6:22: Final syncopated heavy riff coda.
5 Message of Love 5:24      Another high-powered soul groove, this features some interesting cadences. Jimi's solo here is great, but his rhythm guitar playing also shines just as brightly. This is the 2nd and final live rendition from the 2 nights (3rd if counting the Baggy's rehearsal).

From Set 4.

0:00: Intro chat, chromatic rising guitar figure, heavy R&B groove.
0:24: 1st & 2nd verses with Buddy background shouts, punctuated by unison riff, syncopated cadence figure.
0:57: Bridge.
1:14: Guitar solo over verse groove, soon with wah effect and more elaborate bass embellishments from Billy.
2:35: Funky R&B guitar leads back to verse, syncopated cadence figure.
3:24: Vocal/guitar break leads to a foot-stomping boogie vamp.
3:56: 2nd guitar solo.
4:46: Syncopated cadence figure with vocal unison, rising guitar figure, rave up.
6 We Gotta
Live Together
5:51      Originally 16 minutes long, this Buddy Miles tune featured long sections of ad-libbed audience interaction, which were edited out for this release. A longer version (but still edited) can be found on the 1999 "Live at the Fillmore East" double CD. The song itself is largely a modal boogie. This is the only time the band played this tune outside of the "Baggy's" rehearsal fragment.

From Set 4 (edited).

0:00: Modal boogie begins mid-stream with Buddy vocal rap.
0:23: Riff groove with funk accents.
0:51: Cadence into chordal guitar figures under Buddy's adlib and clap-along.
2:48: Fuzz guitar lead enters, with some additional harmonizer/flange effects at times.
4:11: Double time chorus vamp, tempo increase and outro effects solo (rave up).


Band of Gypsys 2 (1986)
     This posthumous album only included three Fillmore East numbers on one side. The other LP side contained tracks from various other concerts (to be covered in later chapters on Atlanta and Berkeley). Released posthumously by Alan Douglas, it's kind of typical of these oddly-assembled '80s compilations I guess.
Trk  Title Time
1 Hear My
Train A Comin'
9:02      This tune was a concert staple in Jimi's last years and could be considered a slower, more mournful version of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". Jimi has two great solos here full of feeling. Also appears on "Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show" (2016), track 3.

From Set 1.

0:00: Intro talk ("Lonesome Train").
0:13: Guitar and voice duet, groove.
0:38: Drums and bass enter, as guitar begins adding embellishments on modal blues. 1st verse, vocal break.
1:31: Turnaround.
1:55: 2nd verse, break, turnaround.
2:28: Chorus.
2:39: Guitar solo over modal blues vamp.
5:09: Solo becomes more restrained with wah effects and accents with Buddy.
6:06: 3rd verse, vocal break, turnaround, chorus.
6:57: Heavy chordal guitar solo, becoming bluesy, syncopated, etc.
8:38: Final guitar/voice duet and cadence.
2 Foxy Lady 6:33      This features a nice, extended solo, but in context with the other Band of Gypsy numbers, it's lumbering monster stomp sounds a bit out of place. It's the 2nd available rendition recorded by the band.

From Set 3, also on the B-side to the "Somewhere" 7".

0:00: Volume swell on heavy vibrato note, upbeat falling slide.
0:13: 1st verse: Monster groove based on a fuzzed-out jazz chord with fragments bounced between low and high strings, ad-libbed fills.
1:04: Bridge, vocal break, "catcall" guitar motif.
1:24: 2nd verse, bridge, vocal break, catcall guitar motif.
2:16: Guitar solo over verse groove, leading to unison bends, etc.
4:46: Bridge, vocal break, volume swell feedback.
5:17: Outro based on verse groove, ending in rave up cadence. 
3 Stop 4:47      This cover of an R&B staple is sung by Buddy Miles and features some nice stop-time vocal breaks. It's a nice, laid back counter to the more heavy material like "Machine Gun", etc (also on "Live At The Fillmore East" (1999), disc 2, track 6).

From Set 3.

0:00: Fanfare with guitar cadenza, Buddy leads on vocals.
0:27: Soul groove begins on rhythm guitar, followed by wah leads.
0:58: A vocal break starts the 1st verse.
1:22: Bridge, modulation.
1:44: 2nd verse, bridge.
2:27: Stop time vocal breaks, guitar solo over verse and bridge figures.
3:20: 3rd verse, bridge, stop time vocal breaks.
4:35: Guitar solo with effects.
5:15: Stop time vocal breaks.


Live at the Fillmore East (1999)
     This double CD is probably the 2nd-best representation of the Band of Gypsys, as it has the remaining "choice" cuts from both nights. "We Gotta Live Together" is the only repeat from "Band of Gypsys", but it's an expanded version (although still an edited down version from the original 16 minutes).
Trk  Title Time
Disc One
1 Stone Free 12:56      This 2nd rendition of "Stone Free" (also featured the 1st night in a version found on "West Coast Seattle Boy") features an epic guitar solo, modulating through several keys and dripping in cosmic pedal effects/whammy bar abuse.

From Set 4.

0:00: Intro talk.
0:15: Opening based on guitar open string harmonics and bass grace notes, 1st verse - snare-driven boogie with fills (funk accents reduced from original).
0:54: Bridge vamp, chorus.
1:24: 2nd verse, bridge, chorus.
2:28: Fuzz guitar solo over a vamp.
3:26: Added flange effects on guitar solo, modulations to major modes.
7:23: Rhythm guitar riffing, leading to Buddy vocal scat solo.
9:07: Free textural section (noises, feedback, dive bomb).
10:02: Return to chorus with new syncopated accents.
10:38: Majestic ending vamp, modulating.
11:24: Groove picks up, leading to outro guitar solo employing jazz octaves, final cadence.
2 Power of Soul 6:19      This version has a much shorter "main solo" section then the 1970 LP, but Jimi plays a longer intro lead section. This is the 3rd rendition (4th if counting the Baggy's rehearsal).

From Set 3.

0:00: Intro talk.
0:15: Accented intro break, intro figure based on heavy riff.
0:43: Vamp modulates into heavy riff with embellishments/solo.
1:46: Drum break, opening lead over riff, vamp modulates using heavy riff, lead continues into a wailing motif.
2:54: Intro figure, 1st verse, punctuated by heavy riff cadences.
3:40: "Rock n roll" bridge.
3:51: Heavy riff (syncopated), Buddy chorus.
4:14: Modulated bridge figures, guitar lead.
4:32: Rhythmic modal groove with verse.
5:28: Modulations, heavy riff, Buddy chorus.
5:56: Final heavy riff coda.
3 Hear My
Train A Comin'
9:02      This tune was a concert staple in Jimi's last years and could be considered a slower, more mournful version of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". Jimi has two great solos here full of feeling. Also on "Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show" (2016).

From Set 1.

0:00: Intro talk ("Lonesome Train").
0:13: Guitar and voice duet, groove.
0:38: Drums and bass enter, as guitar begins adding embellishments on modal blues. 1st verse, vocal break.
1:31: Turnaround.
1:55: 2nd verse, break, turnaround.
2:28: Chorus.
2:39: Guitar solo over modal blues vamp.
5:09: Solo becomes more restrained with wah effects and accents with Buddy.
6:06: 3rd verse, vocal break, turnaround, chorus.
6:57: Heavy chordal guitar solo, becoming bluesy, syncopated, etc.
8:38: Final guitar/voice duet and cadence.
4 Izabella 3:40      This tune features some interesting riff figures organized over blues rock chord changes. This tune stands out from previous efforts in this regard due to his use of new guitar tones and rhythmic cadences. Also on "Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show" (2016).

From Set 1.

0:00: Intro talk ("The World for Izabella").
0:09: Intro funk riff, joined by drums & bass.
0:24: Main groove (a quirky rhythm structure hung on a blues form), accented turnaround cadence.
0:47: 1st verse, turnaround.
1:11: 2nd verse, turnaround.
1:34: Rising bridge (also based on a blues progression).
1:56: Guitar solo.
2:41: 3rd verse, turnaround.
3:04: Outro vamp and lead break.
5 Machine Gun 11:36      This is the 4th and final live rendition of the 2 nights, and has a more "free-wheeling" quality to it (actually it sounds like there might have been some miscues in the verse structure but - "who knows? I don't know..."). In any case, more raw chunks of guitar damage...

From Set 4.

0:00: Loose intro figures, then a snare slam introduces flanged guitar intro based on a modal vamp with accented "machine gun hits", joined by bass and drums.
0:47: Guitar solo over vamp groove leads into verses (punctuated by machine gun hits motif), interspersed with short solo trips.
4:35: Guitar solo, building off of bass riff (Buddy adds background vocal adlibs).
7:15: More restrained guitar figures support a vocal verse.
8:21: Bass leads a "machine gun" vamp, leading to rhythmic guitar accents ("exchanging fire" with Buddy), feedback and "crying" guitar.
10:15: Noise guitar coda (includes quote of "Taps").
6 Voodoo Child
(Slight Return)
6:01      This version of "Voodoo Child" has a more cheerful, funkier vibe than the one found on "Electric Ladyland". This is the 2nd rendition (it was also played the 1st night, so far unreleased).

From Set 4.

0:00: Intro chat/tuning ("the Black Panthers' National Anthem").
0:23: Opening percussive wah guitar sequence, leading to wah melody, joined by kick drum and hi-hat.
0:51: Main groove begins with guitar pyrotechnics interspersed.
1:19: 1st verse over a modal blues vamp.
1:42: Cadence into chorus.
2:00: 1st guitar solo with wah.
3:17: Rhythm guitar riffing explores groove under 2nd verse.
4:02: Cadence into chorus.
4:21: 2nd guitar solo using a less-effected tone.
5:10: Bass changes to accented outro groove (continues straight into next track).
7 We Gotta
Live Together
9:55      This song might work better live than on CD, with so much audience participation involved. Personally, I prefer the leaner edit on the original 1970 LP. The Baggy's rehearsal CD has a brief excerpt of the band rehearsing a harmony vocal break.

From Set 4.

0:00: Modal boogie continues from previous song as Buddy instigates a vocal sing along. Billy and Jimi vamp on a funky riff.
1:42: Billy and Jimi expand on the vamp riff during the clap along (eventually mostly dropping out).
3:08: The band plays around with the arrangement for awhile ("Home sweet home...", etc).
6:12: Fuzz guitar lead enters, with some additional harmonizer/flange effects at times.
7:41: Another sing along, supported by some weird-sounding guitar riffing.
8:10: Double time chorus vamp, tempo increase and outro effects solo (rave up).
Disc Two
1 Auld Lang Syne 3:54      Jimi and the band blast through an arrangement (possibly spontaneous?) of the traditional song, adding some lead lines along the way.

From Set 2.

0:00: Countdown, announcer, piped in music.
1:00: Guitar rendition of song, joined by drums and bass.
1:55: Jimi changes to a bluesier mode.
2:19: Whammy bar feedback.
2:43: Bluesy lead as drums double-time.
3:25: Ending cadence and noise rave.
2 Who Knows 3:55      This rendition is a straight-forward pass and leaves out the later-added Buddy vocal solo. It's the earliest recorded take out of the releases discussed here, and possibly a spontaneously jammed out tune.

From Set 2.

0:00: Intro vamp, moving to a harmony line with the bass.
0:22: Jimi briefly adlibs vocals on the New Years occasion, leading to a lead guitar solo over vamp.
1:51: Descending bass vamp variation begins to appear, followed by restrained wah solo and brief low key Buddy background vocals.
3:44: Final accent.
3 Changes 5:38      This 1st live version omits the clap-along, replaced by a "getting softer/louder" groove vamp sequence. 

From Set 1.

0:00: Intro, intro vamp.
0:17: Lead melody riff on wah guitar, R&B funk groove.
0:33: 1st verse (Buddy).
1:06: Melody riff, 2nd verse.
1:53: Lead melody, guitar break, guitar solo (wah).
2:26: Rhythmic guitar riffing, 3rd verse (adlib?) as groove cools out.
3:54: Ramping up the groove - then back down.
5:12: Back into the lead melody, Buddy drum break, final rave up/accent.
4 Machine Gun 13:35      This is the 2nd known rendition of "Machine Gun" (and leaves out the Buddy Miles vocal interlude). The ending here has a somewhat more haunting feel.

From Set 2.

0:00: Tuning and talk.
0:26: Flanged guitar intro based on a modal vamp with accented "machine gun hits", joined by bass and drums.
1:09: Vamp groove and guitar embellishments.
1:38: 1st verse.
2:35: 1st guitar solo begins as machine gun rhythm motif appears.
4:18: 2nd verse. Buddy begins background vocal chant.
5:15: 2nd guitar solo (Buddy wails in background).
5:55: 3rd verse.
6:44: Fuzz/harmonized lead.
8:17: 4th verse, machine gun motif.
8:58: Guitar "machine gun" accents in dialogue with drum, textures with feedback, whammy, some ad-libbed vocals.
10:14: Groove resumes into noise guitar textures, interrupted by machine gun snare motif. Bass sometimes becomes more accented, leading to "Taps" feedback quote.
12:32: Textural guitar fade out.
5 Stepping Stone 5:20      This is a fun, fast boogie, with an interesting modulating solo. It has the same raucous spirit as some earlier burners like "Can You See Me" and "Stone Free". This recording is the earliest rendition available on the official releases, but it was played at least once before on the 1st night's 2nd set.

From Set 3.

0:00: Intro talk ("Tryin' To Be"), fast boogie riff, joined by drums.
0:16: Vocal chorus (w/o bass), accented cadence.
0:42: Rock n roll beat, vocal break.
0:52: Guitar solo.
1:05: Chorus, cadence, rock beat, vocal break, lead break.
1:53: Rising bridge.
2:18: Guitar solo over modulating bridge figure.
3:08: Bridge resumes, drums double and halve meters.
3:38: Guitar solo continues.
4:34: Fast boogie groove with tremolo chordal runs, final accents.
6 Stop 5:43      This cover of an R&B staple is sung by Buddy Miles and features some nice stop-time vocal breaks. It's a nice, laid back counter to the more heavy material like "Machine Gun", etc. This recording is the 3rd and final rendition out of the 2 nights.

From Set 3.

0:00: Fanfare with guitar cadenza, Buddy leads on vocals.
0:27: Soul groove begins on rhythm guitar, followed by wah leads.
0:58: A vocal break starts the 1st verse.
1:22: Bridge, modulation.
1:44: 2nd verse, bridge.
2:27: Stop time vocal breaks, guitar solo over verse and bridge figures.
3:20: 3rd verse, bridge, stop time vocal breaks.
4:35: Guitar solo with effects.
5:15: Stop time vocal breaks.
7 Earth Blues 5:48       This number features a long solo, although Jimi sounds like he's fighting the guitar a bit (probably due to stage acrobatics or bad sound or both). This is the 3rd and final live rendition of the 2 nights (4th if counting the Baggy's rehearsal).

From Set 4.

0:00: Intro talk ("Earth Blues Today").
0:04: Octave guitar intro riff.
0:12: A descending chromatic cadence leads to a 2 chord verse vamp.
0:37: Chromatic cadence (chorus) with background vocals.
1:02: 2nd verse, chromatic cadence.
1:34: Bridge with double time drums, rising-falling cadence.
2:01: Guitar solo over chromatic cadence, featuring some "lascivious" guitar slides (probably some stage craft here).
5:16: Cadential fanfare accents with whammy bends.
8 Burning Desire 8:22      This tune has enough sections for 4 songs and it's pretty amazing that they assembled this in such a short time. Aside from all the harmonic and tempo modulations, this song also is notable for its sudden shift into ballad territory in the middle. This is the 3rd and final rendition (4th if counting the Baggy's rehearsal).

From Set 3.

0:00: Intro talk.
0:10: Swampy walking bass jazz vamp with wah guitar embellishments.
0:58: Accented verse with jazz-funk guitar accent chords,
1:16: Modulating bridge
1:37: Variations of the verse groove.
1:54: Modulating bridge 2, accented cadences.
2:14: Verse structure, guitar solo over modulating, accented figures.
2:51: Groove accelerates and mutates as solo continues.
4:22: Stop time groove featuring drums.
4:40: R&B ballad groove with Buddy providing background vocals, Jimi sings the verse.
5:34: Restrained guitar solo.
6:29: Earlier verse structure resumes, continues into groove/tempo variations.
7:10: Guitar solo, added fuzz, leading into funk chording.
7:47: Final accents, calls for encore.
9 Wild Thing 3:06      This was pretty obligatory, frankly, but nonetheless it's clear the audience was pleased. This is the 1st and only time this tune was played by the band (probably spontaneously). After this song, the band finished out the night with "Hey Joe" and "Purple Haze" (both unreleased).

From Set 4.

0:00: Opening chords, monster groove begins.
0:22: 1st verse, vocal break.
1:06: 2nd verse.
1:37: Guitar solo, playing with teeth, etc.
2:30: Final accents.


The Baggy's Rehearsal Sessions (2002)
     These are archival recordings of the rehearsals for the show. It's an interesting assemblage of private recordings with the songs mostly in their final stages. One bonus is the friendly chatting and joking around that can be heard in between the songs. It's unique in that it has a light-hearted take of "Hootchie Coochie Man" and a very cool unreleased improv (listed here as "Baggy's Jam").
Trk  Title Time
1 Burning Desire 9:33 0:00: Accented verse with jazz-funk guitar accent chords, modulating bridge.
0:46: Variations of the verse groove.
1:04: Modulating bridge 2, accented cadences.
1:27: Verse structure, guitar solo over modulating, accented figures.
2:01: Groove accelerates and mutates as solo continues.
3:37: Stop time groove featuring drums.
3:58: R&B ballad groove with Buddy adding background vocals, Jimi sings the verse.
5:37: Restrained guitar solo.
8:00: Earlier verse structure resumes, continues into groove/tempo variations, lively funk chording.
2 Hoochie Coochie Man 5:57 0:00: Heavy blues groove begins.
0:38: 1st verse, chorus.
1:35: 2nd verse, chorus.
2:32: Guitar solo.
3:55: Buddy's vocal solo.
5:06: Rhythm guitar adds modulating embellishments.
3 Message to Love 4:50 0:00: Rising guitar figure, heavy R&B groove.
0:20: 1st verse with Buddy background vocals, punctuated by unison riff, syncopated cadence figure.
0:57: Bridge.
1:16: 2nd verse, syncopated cadence figure.
2:12: Vocal/guitar break leads to a boogie vamp.
2:51: Guitar solo.
3:36: Syncopated cadence figure, rising guitar figure, rave up.
4:06: Studio chatter and bluesy noodling.
4 Ezy Ryder 5:32 0:00: Biting intro riff with cowbell.
0:16: Rising riff with guitar embellishments, 1st verse.
0:46: Lead break, 2nd verse.
1:16: Rising harmony into accented cadence.
1:28: Fast funky figure into accented rising harmony.
1:50: Guitar break, leading back to intro riff.
2:13: Guitar solo over rising riff.
2:42: 3rd verse (Buddy bg vocals).
3:00: Rising harmony into accented cadence.
3:14: Fast funky figure into accented rising harmony.
3:36: Guitar break, leading back to intro riff.
3:59: 4th verse, rising harmony (extended).
5:10: Studio ribbing.
5 Power of Soul 7:33 0:00: Accented intro break, intro figure based on heavy riff.
0:29: Vamp modulates into heavy riff with variations, wah solo.
1:21: Drum break, wah lead continues over riff and vamp modulations/variations.
2:19: Intro figure, funky 1st verse, punctuated by heavy riff cadences.
3:05: "Rock n roll" bridge bracketed by accented cadences.
3:16: Heavy riff (syncopated), Buddy chorus.
3:38: Modulated bridge figures, 2nd guitar lead based on lead melody.
4:32: Intro figure, 2nd verse, etc.
5:16: "Rock n roll" bridge.
5:28: Heavy riff, chorus.
6:14: Modulated heavy riff variation into jam on melody lead.
6 Earth Blues 5:10 0:00: Octave guitar intro riff.
0:08: A descending chromatic cadence leads to a 2 chord 1st verse vamp.
0:34: Chromatic cadence (chorus) with background vocals.
1:01: 2nd verse, chorus.
1:35: Bridge with double time drums, falling-rising cadence.
2:03: Guitar solo (with wah) over chromatic cadence.
2:45: 3rd verse (double time drums), chorus.
3:37: Bridge with double time drums, falling-rising cadence.
4:06: 2nd guitar solo over chromatic cadence.
4:23: Cadential fanfare accents with whammy bar vibrato, final cadence.
7 (Them) Changes 5:20 0:00: Intro vamp.
0:10: Lead melody riff, R&B funk groove.
0:27: 1st verse (Buddy).
1:02: Melody riff, 2nd verse.
1:54: Lead melody, guitar break and solo (wah).
2:29: Rhythmic funk guitar riffing, 3rd verse.
3:36: Ramping up the groove (jam).
4:54: Buddy drum break into the lead melody, final rave up/accent.
8 Lover Man 3:39 0:00: Stop-time guitar break intro, becoming an accented boogie.
0:14: 1st verse with accented cadences (based on blues rock changes).
0:36: 2nd verse.
0:56: Stop-time guitar break leads to solo.
2:06: Solo continues over chromatic bass line and double time drums.
2:28: 3rd verse.
2:49: Final guitar embellishments, accented cadences/cadenza.
9 We Gotta
Live Together
0:44 0:00: Modal funk as the band practice vocal harmonies on "Home sweet home..."
10 Baggy's Jam 4:55      This jam really shows off Jimi's broad vocabulary of funk rhythm guitar styles.

0:00: Uptempo funk groove exploring a modal 2-chord harmony.
1:02: Guitar embellishments begins as changes become bluesier.
3:14: Jimi employs more chordal funk styles.
11 Earth Blues 6:26      This second version is included here probably because it's so passionate, despite the false start. Rehearsal or not, Jimi gives it his all...

0:00: Octave guitar intro riff.
0:08: A descending chromatic cadence leads to a false start.
0:22: 2nd start: Octave guitar intro riff, descending chromatic cadence leads to a 2 chord 1st verse vamp.
0:55: Chromatic cadence (chorus) with background vocals.
1:19: 2nd verse, chorus.
1:51: Bridge, falling-rising cadence.
2:18: Guitar solo over funky/accented chromatic cadence.
4:21: Bridge, falling-rising cadence.
4:48: 2nd guitar solo over chromatic cadence.
5:49: Cadential fanfare accents with whammy bar vibrato, final cadence.
12 Burning Desire 7:20 0:00: Swampy walking bass jazz vamp with guitar embellishments.
0:28: Accented verse with jazz-funk guitar accent chords.
0:45: Modulating bridge.
1:04: Variations of the verse groove.
1:20: Modulating bridge 2, accented cadences.
1:40: Verse structure, guitar solo over modulating, accented figures, slow down.
2:16: Groove accelerates and mutates as solo continues.
3:40: Stop time groove featuring drums.
4:02: R&B ballad groove with Buddy providing background vocals, Jimi sings the verse and adds guitar fills.
6:14: Restrained guitar solo, wah, fade out on ballad groove.


West Coast Seattle Boy (2010)
     This anthology release included a few more unreleased Band of Gypsys tracks, in this case all of them "hits".
Trk  Title Time
3.12 Fire 4:41      The band plays around with the original Experience arrangement, seemingly spontaneously (and only played once). Buddy's "rapid fire" approach is very different from Mitch Mitchell's jazzier, more "splattery" take.

From Set 2.

0:00: Main guitar riff leads to Jimi's taunt over a drum break.
0:11: 1st verse based on stop-time riffing over a churning drum groove.
0:22: Chorus with uptempo groove, leading to drum break.
0:37: 2nd verse, chorus.
0:59: Bridge, guitar solo, modulating.
1:51: Intro sequence (drum break).
2:19: Buddy sings along with guitar riff, 2nd solo/riffing.
3:29: 3rd verse, chorus.
3:51: Key briefly modulates with re-entrance of melodic guitar lead.
4:11: Stop-time riffing, final cadence.
3.13 Foxey Lady 6:29      Jimi does an extended solo here, showing how much territory he could cover over just a simple 1-chord riff. 1st of 2 renditions (also on "Band of Gypsys 2"). This is actually a slightly edited version. After leaving the stage for a few minutes, the band would return with encores "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "Purple Haze" (both unreleased).

From Set 2.

0:00: Volume swell on heavy vibrato note, upbeat falling slide.
0:13: 1st verse: Monster groove based on a fuzzed-out jazz chord with fragments bounced between low and high strings, ad-libbed fills.
0:55: Bridge, vocal break, "catcall" guitar motif.
1:15: 2nd verse, bridge, vocal break, catcall guitar motif.
2:07: Guitar solo over verse groove, leading to unison bends, feedback pyrotechnics, etc.
5:38: Accented lead figures into light riffing.
4.1 Stone Free 14:46      This extended jam version of "Stone Free" has quotes from Tchaikovsky and Cream, as well as a Buddy Miles drum solo. Epic stuff. This is the 1st of 2 live renditions.

From Set 2.

0:00: Intro talk ("...to the Cupcake sisters...").
0:14: Opening based on guitar open string harmonics and bass grace notes, 1st verse - snare-driven boogie with fills (bass accents come in w. vocals).
0:56: Bridge vamp, frenzied chorus.
1:23: 2nd verse (churning drums), bridge, chorus.
2:31: Feedback fuzz guitar solo over a muscular, driving vamp. Extended solo winds up on a quote of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" march.
4:45: Rhythm guitar riffing leads to some more lead figures (pull-offs, octaves, etc), textural effects.
7:40: Buddy Miles' drum solo, guitar groove resumes.
9:09: Stop-time guitar solo break (various grooves, "Spanish style", "Stepping Stone", etc), wah guitar solo.
11:56: "Sunshine of Your Love" (Cream).
13:02: Return to "Stone Free" chorus with syncopated accents.
13:41: Majestic ending vamp, modulating, octaves.


Machine Gun: 
The Fillmore East First Show (2016)
     Amazingly, it would take 46 years before a release of one complete set (1st night, 1st set) would become available. It's got a few rough spots, but it's still a great, thundering set. 

     Out of all 4 sets, the 1st night's 2nd set has the most gaps in the official release catalog, and judging from bootlegs, that set had the most "crash landings". All things considered, the 1970 release and the 1999 release are essentially the "cream of the crop", although every rendition has some brilliant playing.
Trk  Title Time All from Set 1
1 Power of Soul 5:30      This first live Band of Gypsys tune ever played has the band ambitiously tackle the tricky "Power of Soul". This has a bit of a "rough landing", but Jimi's sound is nicely controlled.

0:00: Intro chat.
0:15: Accented intro break, intro figure based on heavy riff.
0:45: Vamp modulates into heavy riff with variations, wah lead break.
1:37: Drum break, wah lead continues over riff and vamp modulations/variations.
2:34: Intro figure, funky 1st verse, punctuated by heavy riff cadences.
3:14: "Rock n roll" bridge bracketed by accented cadences.
3:25: Heavy riff (syncopated), Buddy chorus.
3:47: Modulated heavy riff variation with jam on melody lead.
4:10: Rhythmic modal groove with 2nd verse, punctuated by riff.
4:46: Modulation, chorus, heavy riff (syncopated).
2 Lover Man 3:14      After the complex changes of their slightly-stiff opener, the band switches gears into something simpler and more familiar (only played on this 1st set).

0:00: Stop-time guitar break intro, becoming an accented boogie.
0:13: 1st verse with accented cadences (based on blues rock changes).
0:32: 2nd verse.
0:50: Stop-time guitar break leads to solo.
1:32: Solo continues over chromatic bass line, stop-time groove.
1:50: 3rd verse.
2:08: Final guitar embellishments, accented cadences/cadenza.
2:52: Stage chat.
3 Hear My Train
A Comin'
9:06      This tune (also only played on the 1st set) was a concert staple in Jimi's last years and could be considered a slower, more mournful version of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". Jimi has two great solos here full of feeling. This cut previously appeared on "Live at the Fillmore East" (1999) and "Band of Gypsys 2" (1986).

0:00: Guitar and voice duet, groove.
0:25: Drums and bass enter, as guitar begins adding embellishments on modal blues. 1st verse, vocal break.
1:19: Turnaround.
1:43: 2nd verse, break, turnaround.
2:16: Chorus.
2:28: Guitar solo over modal blues vamp.
4:48: Solo becomes more restrained with wah effects and accents with Buddy.
5:57: 3rd verse, vocal break, turnaround, chorus.
6:48: Heavy chordal guitar solo, becoming bluesy, syncopated, etc.
8:30: Final guitar/voice duet and cadence.
8:51: Stage chat.
4 Changes 5:58      This 1st live version omits the 1970 LP clap-along, replaced by a "getting louder/softer" groove vamp sequence. This cut previously appeared on "Live at the Fillmore East" (1999).

0:00: Intro vamp.
0:10: Lead melody riff on wah guitar, R&B funk groove.
0:26: 1st verse (Buddy).
0:59: Melody riff, 2nd verse.
1:47: Lead melody, guitar break, guitar solo (wah).
2:17: Rhythmic guitar riffing, 3rd verse (adlib?) as groove cools out.
3:48: Ramping up the groove - then back down.
5:12: Back into the lead melody, Buddy drum break, final rave up/accent.
5:33: Applause, etc.
5 Izabella 3:29      This tune (also only played on this 1st set) features some interesting riff figures organized over blues rock chord changes. This tune stands out from previous efforts in this regard due to his use of new guitar tones and rhythmic cadences. This cut previously appeared on "Live at the Fillmore East" (1999).

0:00: Intro funk riff, joined by drums & bass.
0:16: Main groove (a quirky rhythm structure hung on a blues form), accented turnaround cadence.
0:38: 1st verse, turnaround.
1:02: 2nd verse, turnaround.
1:26: Rising bridge (also based on a blues progression).
1:49: Guitar solo.
2:35: 3rd verse, turnaround.
2:58: Outro vamp and lead break.
6 Machine Gun 8:54      This first live rendition of "Machine Gun" also features Buddy's first vocal "solo" of the 2 nights. In this rendition the "noise solo" at the end is left out.

0:00: Guitar intro based on a modal vamp with accented "machine gun hits", joined by bass and drums.
0:44: Verse sections punctuated by lead guitar melody.
3:29: Bridge variation, guitar solo, building off of bass riff (Buddy adds background vocal adlibs).
6:02: More restrained guitar figures support a Buddy Miles vocal scat solo.
6:29: Bass starts a "machine gun" vamp, leading to verse and vocal responses from Buddy.
7:25: Guitar solo over accented groove and "machine gun" motif, final cadence.
8:39: Applause.
7 Stop 5:30      This cover of an R&B staple is sung by Buddy Miles and features some nice stop-time harmony vocal breaks. It's a nice, laid back counter to the more heavy material like "Machine Gun", etc. The band repeated this tune for the 2nd set and for the next night's 1st set.

0:00: Fanfare with guitar cadenza, Buddy leads on vocals.
0:27: Soul groove begins on rhythm guitar, followed by wah leads.
1:03: A vocal break starts the 1st verse.
1:27: Bridge, modulation.
1:51: 2nd verse, bridge.
2:40: Stop time harmony vocal breaks, guitar solo over verse and bridge figures.
3:38: 3rd verse, bridge, stop time harmony vocal breaks.
5:05: Applause, chat.
8 Ezy Ryder 5:55      This new tune is notable for its buzz-saw-sharp riffing, as well as some interesting chromatic bridges. The abrupt ending is probably supposed to be reflective of the titular movie's ending. This was repeated for the 2nd set but not the next night.

0:00: Biting intro riff with cymbals/cowbell.
0:21: Rising riff with guitar embellishments, 1st verse.
1:03: Lead break, 2nd verse.
1:40: Rising harmony into accented cadence.
1:52: Fast funky figure into accented rising harmony.
2:12: Guitar break, leading back to intro riff.
2:32: Guitar solo over rising riff.
3:25: 3rd verse.
3:51: Guitar solo, leading back to intro riff, rising harmony extended.
5:19: Applause, chat.
9 Bleeding Heart 6:38      The band take a soulful run-through of the Elmore James tune (also only played on this 1st set).

0:00: Slow blues changes.
0:54: 1st verse/chorus.
1:47: 2nd verse.
2:40: Guitar solo.
3:31: 2nd solo chorus.
4:21: 3rd chorus (guitar solo relaxes).
5:13: 3rd verse (octave fills), final turnaround.
6:10: Applause.
10 Earth Blues 6:24      Found on the "Baggy's" release and making it all the way to the 4th set, Jimi apparently really liked this new tune. This version has 2 guitar solos.

0:00: Octave guitar intro riff.
0:09: A descending chromatic cadence leads to a 2 chord verse vamp.
0:34: Chromatic cadence (chorus) with background vocals.
0:59: 2nd verse, chromatic cadence.
1:31: Bridge with double time drums, rising-falling cadence.
1:58: Guitar solo over chromatic cadence.
3:39: Bridge with double time drums, rising-falling cadence.
4:06: 2nd guitar solo.
4:52: Cadential fanfare with whammy bends.
5:30: Applause, chat.
11 Burning Desire 9:40      The first live take of this tricky song, this take is not bad, but it gets a better run-through the next day, in my opinion.

0:00: Swampy walking bass jazz vamp with soul guitar embellishments, tempo increases.
0:35: Accented verse with jazz-funk guitar accent chords.
0:51: Modulating bridge.
1:10: Variations of the verse groove.
1:26: Modulating bridge 2, accented cadences.
1:46: Verse structure, guitar solo over modulating, accented figures, groove slows.
2:20: Groove accelerates and mutates as solo continues.
3:50: Stop time groove featuring drums.
4:12: R&B ballad groove with Buddy providing background vocals, Jimi sings the verse.
6:00: Background vocals featured, restrained guitar solo, fading out.
7:28: Earlier verse structure resumes, continues into groove/tempo variations.
7:52: Tempo increases, added guitar riffing/octave chording.
9:03: Final funk/soul accents, calls for encore.

Four Sets Over Two Nights

     The below table lists the actual live set lists and the distribution of the songs amongst the various official releases.

Dec 31, 1969, 1st Set (Set 1)
1Power Of Soul
(Paper Airplanes)
Machine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
2Lover ManMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
3Hear My Train A Comin'
(Lonesome Blues)
Machine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)/Band of Gypsys 2 (1986)
4ChangesMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
5IzabellaMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
6Machine GunMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
7StopMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
8Ezy RyderMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
9Bleeding HeartMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
10Earth BluesMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
11Burning DesireMachine Gun - The Fillmore East (2016)
* * * * * *
Dec 31, 1969, 2nd Set (Set 2)
1Auld Lang SyneLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
2Who KnowsLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
3Stepping Stone
4Burning Desire
5FireWest Coast Seattle Boy (2010)
6Ezy Ryder
7Machine GunLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
8Power Of Soul
9Stone FreeWest Coast Seattle Boy (2010)
10Changes
11Message To Love
12Stop
13Foxy LadyWest Coast Seattle Boy (2010)
14Voodoo Child
(Slight Return)

15Purple Haze
* * * * * *
Jan 1, 1970, 1st Set (Set 3)
1Who KnowsBand of Gypsys (1970)
2Machine GunBand of Gypsys (1970)
3Changes
4Power Of SoulLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
5Stepping StoneLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
6Foxy LadyBand of Gypsys 2 (1986)
7StopLive At The Fillmore East (1999)/Band of Gypsys 2 (1986)
8Earth Blues
9Burning DesireLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
* * * * * *
Jan 1, 1970, 2nd Set (Set 4)
1Stone FreeLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
2ChangesBand of Gypsys (1970)
3Power Of SoulBand of Gypsys (1970)
4Message To LoveBand of Gypsys (1970)
5Earth BluesLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
6Machine GunLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
7Voodoo Child
(Slight Return)
Live At The Fillmore East (1999)
8We Gotta Live TogetherLive At The Fillmore East (1999)/Band of Gypsys (1970)
9Wild ThingLive At The Fillmore East (1999)
10Hey Joe
11Purple Haze
* * * * * *
     "We Gotta Live Together" from 70.01.01 (2nd set) was released in a shortened edit on the 1970 Band of Gypsys LP. "Hear My Train A Comin'", "Changes", and "Izabella" from 69.12.31 (1st set) are also on Live At The Fillmore East (1999). "Foxy Lady" from 70.01.01 (1st set) is also on Band of Gypsys (1991 import) and the "Somewhere" single.

     The Band of Gypsys would only play one more aborted set at Madison Square Garden four weeks later before effectively disbanding (although studio recordings of the trio would later surface on various posthumous collections).


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Electric Ladyland

     "Sometime around the end of the summer we'll be coming out with a completely different concept of pop music than has ever been heard before."

     Electric Ladyland was the final "official" release from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and saw Jimi taking a much firmer hold on how he wanted his recorded music to proceed. The first sessions were still produced by Chas Chandler (although uncredited on the album), but Jimi's insistence on multiple takes for each rhythm track clashed with Chas' inclination for more spontaneous takes, and Chandler ultimately left the team by May. Noel Redding also became frustrated at these sessions and, continuing a trend begun in Axis: Bold As Love, began spending less and less time laying down bass tracks in the studio. Besides the reduction of Noel's "work hours", Jimi had also developed a habit of rerecording Noel's bass parts to fit his own vision of how he wanted the songs to be stylized (essentially more Motown, and less psychedelic Brit pop). Between these factors and the entrance of more and more guest musicians (friends of Jimi's), Noel's influence on the group's album sound was clearly at an all-time low.

     Another important event affecting the overall direction of the new album was the relocation of Jimi and his production team to New York City, shortly after some initial sessions at Olympic Studios in England. Most of Electric Ladyland was created at the Record Plant, a new studio opened by Gary Kellgren, who had engineered on a few tracks off of Axis. In April of 1968, Eddie Kramer left Olympic to join the Record Plant staff, also continuing his key contributions to Jimi's sound. Moving back to New York seemed to empower Jimi's voice in the group's direction, and this probably led to his taking over as producer after Chas left.
   

     "We call our music Electric Church Music. It's like a religion to us. Some ladies are like church to us too. Some groupies know more about music than the guys, people call them groupies, but I prefer the term 'Electric Ladies.' My whole Electric Ladyland album is about them..."

     "...The album is so personal because, apart from some help from people like Steve Winwood and Buddy Miles, it's all done by us. Noel kicked in one of the songs, but mostly they're mine, electric funk melodies, and it goes into blues and hard rock, it goes into complete opposite, complete fantasy. I don't say it's great, but it's The Experience. It has a rough, hard feel on some of the tracks, those funky tunes, some of the things on it are hungry."

     Jimi's above descriptions of the album are spot on, as this final JHE opus veers into some very different styles and approaches such as loose jam sessions, sonic landscapes, R&B vocal-driven soul, hard rock burners, political "criticism" and "guitar army" anthems (this last tendency of course would become a signature element of Jimmy Page's Led Zeppelin sound). Each of the four original LP sides seems to be designed as a kind of "mini-suite", although this aspect is lost on CD unfortunately. As described above, this album was truly a "Jimi Hendrix" album more than a "Jimi Hendrix Experience" album, and although several albums' worth of material would be released posthumously after this record, Electric Ladyland stands as Jimi's final completed statement.
   

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Electric Ladyland

Produced by Jimi Hendrix
Engineered by Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren at Olympic Studios, the Record Plant and Sound Center Studios
Released in the US Oct 16 (Oct 25 UK), 1968
Trk  Title Time
1 ...And The Gods Made Love 1:21      "You're really going to be disappointed when you hear our first track on our new LP, because it starts with a 90-second sound painting of the heavens. I know it's the thing people will jump on to criticize, so we're putting it right at the beginning to get it over with."

     Originally titled "At Last... the Beginning", this piece was envisioned as a spaceship landing, probably as a continued theme from "EXP"'s saucer take-off from Axis: Bold As Love. Using tape delay, slowed down/reversed vocals and toms, and backwards guitars and cymbals, it transforms some pedestrian studio chatter into truly alien textures.

0:00: Flanged, slowed down drums.
0:14: Slowed, reversed vocals ("...let's hear that for a second, yeah something like that, OK, one more time..."), flanged, added reverse cymbal effects, etc.
2 Have You
Ever Been
(To Electric Ladyland)
2:12      Sketched out during the Axis sessions at Olympia, basic tracks for this were completed in June of '68. At later sessions at the Record Plant (with Kramer and Gary Kellgren), the drum track was slowed down, after which Jimi added a wah guitar solo and a bass track. Jimi was especially proud of his vocal take on this R&B-style "slow jam". Despite its Motown roots, the "liquid" production and effects make this an entirely different trip. In some ways this is a spaced-out follow-up to Axis' "Little Wing"...

0:00: Reverse effects cut directly into vocal chorus. backed by R&B rhythm and lead guitars (2 tracks), modulating.
0:30: Vamp on unresolved cadence.
0:43: Vocal break/bridge.
1:08: Guitar solo (based on chorus harmony) with vocal breaks.
1:34: Ending vamp on unresolved cadence.
3 Crosstown
Traffic
2:25      Begun back on December 20th, 1967 at Olympic Studios, this was the first Electric Ladyland track to be worked on. Eddie Kramer reports that the piano was compressed and filtered "like a mini wah wah." The guitar doubles the vocal line (processed through a Pultec filter). Jimi also added kazoo and piano, while  Dave Mason and Noel provide background vocals (which pan around, reflecting the "crosstown traffic"). The accented "fanfare" motif features blues bends beneath the stuttering snare hits. This track was essentially produced by both Chas and Jimi, and released as a single b/w "Gypsy Eyes". Style-wise a bit closer to the British pop era numbers of Are You Experienced/Axis:Bold As Love (stop-time grooves were an important part of songs like "Fire" and "Spanish Castle Magic"), the kazoo and piano lines add a new spin.

0:00: Accented fanfare motif with stuttered snare hits.
0:04: Accented chorus groove with kazoo/guitar lead line and piano groove, fanfare motif.
0:21: 1st verse: based on stop time groove, piano part opens up.
0:36: Fanfare, chorus groove, fanfare.
0:57: 2nd verse.
1:12: Fanfare, chorus.
1:29: Fanfare accents into bridge.
1:42: Chorus alternates with fanfare.
4 Voodoo Chile 5:05      Derived from the modal blues of "Catfish Blues", this was recorded in 3 takes with guests Steve Winwood (organ) and Jack Casady (bass). Mitch plays drums, but Noel lays out on this tune. The crowd applause was overdubbed in a separate session. Out of all the tracks on Electric Ladyland, this one features the best example of the telepathic connection that Jimi and Mitch had forged by this time. Their interaction is stunning here. Winwood does a proper organ solo, but it's really Jimi and Mitch's show.

0:00: Intro guitar embellishments supported only by organ, vocal with unison guitar line.
0:25: Blues vamp groove begins over organ drone
0:43: Bass and drums enter as Jimi begins developing lead guitar figures.
1:00: 1st verse with restrained guitar and organ commentary.
1:53: Verse continues with added bite in guitar tone.
2:52: Cadence/turnaround, guitar lead.
3:28: 2nd verse.
4:28: Cadence.
4:45: Guitar solo over modal verse groove. Tape delay is added intermittently.
5:37: Organ solo (with guitar commentary).
6:56: 3rd verse (some delay stabs).
8:06: 2nd guitar solo (highlighted by a trill with whammy bend, etc).
9:00: Drums ramp up into a solo. Guitar and organ return to add a majestic rising fanfare harmony, ending in feedback.
10:52: 4th verse groove with descending bass motif variation.
12:11: Cadence.
12:29: 3rd guitar solo (fiery and interactive with Mitch's drums), leading to a rave up and final cadence. Studio talk overdubs added at the end.
5 Little
Miss Strange
2:50      A Noel Redding song (his only offering on this album), this was first recorded at Sound Center Studios in New York. The basic tracks were later re-recorded at the Record Plant (labelled as "Lilacs for Captain Curry's Coffin/Little Miss Strange Test Session"). Jimi didn't hold back on this Redding cut, and added generous amounts of lead guitar over Noel's acoustic-electric Gibson guitar rhythm track.

0:00: Noel's rhythm guitar opens the track over a pedal vamp.
0:06: Jimi's double-tracked lead guitars (usually in close harmony) come in with a melody figure.
0:20: 1st verse with walking, chromatic bass line.
0:31: Chorus.
0:39: 2nd verse and chorus with added guitar commentary.
0:57: Bridge with lead guitar figures.
1:10: Clean guitar solo.
1:25: Accented cadence with fuzz guitar lead, ending with return to a clean, muffled picking guitar sequence.
1:45: 3rd verse, chorus.
2:04: Wah guitar solo (DI-recorded - direct input to the board), heavy "pedal rocking", 1st half based on modulated patterns.
2:31: Accented power chords with wah guitar embellishments.
6 Long Hot
Summer Night
3:30      This simmering funk stew was the first tune to be recorded (with Gary Kellgren) at the Record Plant, although sketches were presented as far back as during the Axis sessions in Oct '67. Bob Dylan's keyboardist Al Kooper plays piano on this track. Noel suspects Jimi plays bass on this number as well. This song and the following two cuts on Side B of the LP deliver a kind of "electric-soul" trilogy.

0:00: Intro R&B guitar figure (with a beefy tone), underscored by crooning.
0:09: 1st verse over slow funk groove. Stax-style lead guitar added over rhythm guitar groove and flanged background vocals.
0:28: Cadence.
0:42: 2nd verse, cadence.
1:17: Bridge.
1:42: Lead guitar solo (panning).
2:02: 3rd verse, cadence.
2:33: 4th verse, cadence.
2:50: Unresolved ending vamp with tremolo guitar figures. 
7 Come On
(Let The Good Times Roll)
4:10      This Earl King blues-rocker was recorded at the Record Plant. The last track to be recorded for Electric Ladyland (August 27, 1968), the JHE embarked on a 7-week US tour immediately after its completion. Jimi had "debuted" in the US at the Monterey Pop Festival with blues rockers such as "Killing Floor", but Electric Ladyland finally showcased his prowess at blow-torch boogie-rock on LP with this number. Jimi also goes beyond the usual blues bend-dominated solo here with long explorations of imaginative chordal comping. Noel recycles the chromatic bass groove from AYE's "Third Stone From the Sun" in this rocker.

0:00: Galloping intro leads to a 12-bar blues-rock groove. The 1st 4 bars are the 1st verse in a stop time (accented) groove, with the remaining 8 bars acting as a chorus.
0:38: 2nd verse/chorus ending in a modulating bridge.
1:14: Wah guitar solo (1st 2 choruses).
1:52: 3rd solo guitar chorus based on double-stop chordal figures.
2:11: Jimi plays "broken chords" for 2 final choruses.
2:49: 3rd verse/chorus.
3:21: Wah guitar solo resumes for 2 more choruses, fade out.
8 Gypsy Eyes 3:46      This tune was initially demoed in London, but Jimi ultimately ended up recording over 45 takes at the Record Plant. Flanging was added during the mix-down. Like "Little Miss Lover" from Axis: Bold As Love, this has a smoky, late night "street-funk" vibe.

0:00: A drum intro leads to a funk guitar vamp with overdubbed pick slides.
0:16: Opening vocal chant with lead guitar doubling vocal.
0:35: Accent leads to a chugging groove figure.
0:44: 1st verse over a walking funk bass, with lead guitar commentary, accented cadence, chugging/stuttering groove.
1:09: 2nd verse.
1:30: Bridge supported by accented pedal vamp.
1:55: Harmony guitar break, followed by variation of opening sequence (drum break, chant, funk guitar vamp, etc).
2:52: Bridge pedal vamp, guitar solo with delay/flange, fade out.
9 Burning Of
The Midnight Lamp
3:44      This final Side B track (the same cut as the single release from 1967) wraps up this album side with another "pop" cut.

0:00: Theme on harpsichord and wah guitar, joined by bass accents and hi-hat. Final chord uses fast wah vibrato.
0:27: Verse harmony accented by organ stabs, joined by choir and swirling harpsichord figure.
1:04: Intro theme, 2nd verse.
1:53: Wah guitar solo with choir backing.
2:24: Intro theme, 3rd verse, additional vocal flanging for outro.
10 Rainy Day,
Dream Away
3:43      "Sometimes I get to meet other musicians and we kind a exchange notes. It's going to get like the jazz scene where you see an album by Barney Kesel & his friends. These cats are trying to produce real music. They are jamming together and to hell with the imagery thing. It's like making love to one another musically, like painting a picture together. No hang-ups. This has been happening in the jazz scene for years now. A star, a soloist, gathers some guys around and they groove together. Maybe the group only exists for that one album, maybe they go on for a year or so together, but they don't stretch it out once it's started losing the sheer exuberance of jamming together. You change your style and it's only natural that you should get some new jamming guys round you. I wouldn't want to play with anyone too long."

     Fed up with Jimi's perfectionism and independence, Chas left the project around this time. Jimi then brought in friends Buddy Miles (drums, later Band of Gypsys), Mike Finnigan (organ), Larry Faucette (congas), and Freddy Smith (sax) - neither Noel nor Mitch appear here. In this number Jimi was inspired by the guitar/organ/drum trio styles of the Jimmy Smith/Kenny Burrell unit. A wah guitar track was later overdubbed in the ending section. Initially recorded as one long track, it was later split up into two for Side C of the LP album (track 10, 13). The bulk of the cuts on Side C make for another thematic suite, in this case an after-hours, psychedelic fantasia.

0:00: Organ intro (uptempo).
0:08: Sax lick leads to more laid back, modal organ/conga groove, joined by clean guitar. Sax and guitar dialogue over the modal vamp as Jimi "acts out" a little theater.
0:39: Sax drops out, as organ begins adding commentary.
1:20: Sax returns for a 3-way dialogue with guitar and organ.
2:09: Guitar break leads to a verse groove in a new harmony.
2:30: A syncopated groove ends in accented cadences, as a snarling wah guitar surfaces.
3:08: An accented fanfare leads to a reprise of the opening modal vamp, but this time with the wah guitar continuing.
11 1983...
(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
13:39      "A lot of songs are fantasy type songs, so people think you don't know what you're talking about, but it all depends on what the track before and after might have been. You might tell them something kinda hard but you don't want to be a completely hard character in their minds 'cause there's other sides of you that sometimes leak on records too, that's when the fantasy songs come in. Like for instance "1983", that's not necessarily completely hiding away from it like some people might do, with certain drugs and so forth."

     Demoed at Sound Center Studios, basic tracks were recorded at the Record Plant with Eddie Kramer. Kramer relates that the "seagull sounds" are actually feedback sounds from a headphone draped around a microphone, filtered with delay. Chris Wood added flute, and Jimi plays bass and an African flexotone instrument. The main harmonic theme in the first part is built on a chromatic descending harmony, but the song transforms through several suite-like sections. Below, I divided the song into 4 main sections...

Part 1 (Anthem/March)
0:00: Atmospheric sound effects/flexotone lead into a fateful melody over a march groove.
0:31: An accent chord signals the 1st verse over a chromatic descending harmony.
0:57: Fateful melody groove, 2nd verse (added background swooping atmospherics).
1:37: Fateful melody groove.
1:51: Majestic modulating bridge with processed guitar/vocal textures, turning into a march.
2:33: A falling triplet motif drives the march groove as more vocal panned/pitch-shifted vocals enter. Additional harmony layers are also added.
3:08: Cadence, leading to drum break.
3:25: 2nd verse over chromatic descending harmony (more restrained).
3:48: Fateful melody groove.

Part 2 (Dream)
4:01: Fuzz guitar solo leads to a textural section dominated by jazzy, floating drums and tinkling sound effects/pick scrape/flexotone noises.
5:46: Jimi's clean guitar and bass figures resurface over a pedal harmony (some backwards guitar). Flute figures eventually begin to surface, followed by "seagull" sounds (headphone feedback).
8:04: Backwards fuzz guitar, then a drum solo with flute embellishments, chordal guitar figures.

Part 3 (Blues)
9:18: Bluesy cadence groove, leading to guitar, flute, a bass solo (Jimi).
10:24: Insistent drums, flute, bluesy fuzz guitar solo, rave up.
11:12: Drum break 2.

Part 4 (Anthem Reprise)
11:23: 3rd verse.
11:54: Dramatic melody groove with 2nd guitar harmony line, fuzz-wah guitar solo, march groove, rave up with wah accents, etc.
12 Moon, Turn The Tides...
Gently Gently Away
1:01       As "1983" fades into this brief ending soundscape, the opening sci-fi textures of "And The Gods Made Love" are reprised.

0:00: Swirling, atmospheric textures, hints of rhythm guitar deeply buried.
13 Still Raining,
Still Dreaming
4:24      This is a reprise of the framing groove from "Rainy Day Dream Away", but with much more "bite". Jimi cuts loose in an extended wah-wah guitar solo here, in order to signal that, on this final LP side, he's "getting down to business".

0:00: Accented chord leads to reprise of opening pedal vamp from "Rainy Day..." with wah guitar solo ("vocal" quality).
0:46: Organ accents enter with 2nd lead guitar (without wah). The groove is accented by the wah guitar melody.
2:09: Harmony briefly modulates upwards in a cadence, followed by a triplet rhythmic figure, etc. Wah guitar solo continues throughout.
3:04: Syncopated accents begin to appear, leading to ending cadence and rave up.
14 House
Burning Down
4:35      "With 'House Burning Down' we made the guitar sound like it was on fire. It's constantly changing dimensions, and on top of that the lead guitar is cutting through everything".

     This tune was "intended for R&B stations", and was reportedly inspired by the LA riots. Jimi plays bass here as well, and some of the sections seem to be inspired by Spanish flamenco and tango rhythms. The "burning" solo guitar tones are compelling. Some sections feature out of phase frequencies, which "thin" the sound field in a way (personally, I don't really care for this effect, but it's interesting, I guess).

0:00: Power chord fanfare with flanged/panned lead guitar and tremolo-strummed ("flamenco") rhythm guitar.
0:28: Blues rock guitar lick and accent lead to propulsive rock groove chorus with lead guitar commentary. Ending cadence.
0:52: 1st verse over modulated Spanish march/tango groove.
1:33: Accented rock groove chorus.
1:57: Guitar solo begins and continues over cadence and Spanish tango march. Two guitar lead tracks dialogue, leading to a 2nd verse.
2:53: Accent and rock groove chorus (rhythmic out-of-phase processing).
3:20: Outro guitar solo with background vocal crooning over cadence.
4:04: Solo guitar break ("on fire").
15 All Along
The Watchtower
4:01      Originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, Jimi pulls out all the stops on this guitar tour-de-force and makes his the definitive version. Another track from one of the earlier sessions at Olympic, Traffic's Dave Mason contributes 12-string acoustic guitar. Jimi lays down an acoustic 6-string part as well, and later overdubbed the rubbery bass part (again, Noel sits this one out, although the song is still produced under Chas' guidance). Because Mason's 12-string gently swells beneath the more accented strums of Jimi's acoustic 6-string guitar, the rhythm track has a somewhat "orchestral" feel. Added percussion elements (maracas and handclappers?) also add an exotic flavor, but the main highlight is Jimi's soulful vocal delivery and soaring guitar. Each of his solo guitar choruses end up telling a different kind of "watchtower story". A single for this track was released a month prior to the album release (b/w "Burning Of The Midnight Lamp").

0:00: Intro rhythm guitar groove, joined by lead guitar break.
0:18: 1st verse over a 3-chord vamp.
0:52: Guitar solo over percolating bass, 2nd verse.
1:42: Guitar solo.
2:00: Slide solo (with a cigarette lighter) on electric 12-string guitar (processed).
2:16: Wah guitar solo.
2:32: Chordal double stops and blues unison bends.
2:49: 3rd verse.
3:23: Outro guitar solo.

Some excellent info on "Watchtower" here.
16 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) 5:14      "'Voodoo Child' is the new American Anthem...the self-assurance song, not coming from us to you, but coming from the next world too. A song about a cat singin' he's gonna chop down a mountain with the sides of the hand, just building himself up, there's nothin' wrong with that at all. It's a very straight rock type thing, very simple, very funky, our own little funk theme, dedicated to all the people who can actually feel and think for themselves, and feel free for themselves, and dedicated to our friends from West Africa."

     This song is not very complex structurally (essentially a modal blues) but Jimi shapes each of his solo choruses into miniature compositions in their own right. This song also demonstrates Jimi's complete mastery of sonic shading in a "live" setting, using wah-wah, whammy bar and extreme bends. His rhythm guitar parts here also run the gamut of tasty guitar flavors, from a beefy clean tone to a blast furnace overdriven tone. The drums are complemented with African hand shakers (giving it a "voodoo" vibe, I guess). The recording session and mix session were filmed by ABC TV for a short feature (tapes lost), and the 8th take was the chosen master. This track may not be a "new American anthem", but it's not too far off to say it's a true Hendrix anthem.

0:00: Opening percussive wah guitar sequence, leading to wah melody, joined by kick drum and hi-hat.
0:32: Main groove begins with guitar pyrotechnics interspersed.
1:04: 1st verse over a modal blues vamp.
1:32: Cadence into chorus.
1:54: 1st guitar solo with subtle wah filtering.
2:28: Rhythm guitar explores groove under 2nd verse.
3:16: Cadence into chorus.
3:38: 2nd guitar solo.
4:44: Outro groove (fade out).


Next: Band Of Gypsys