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Friday, October 11, 2013


My love for the work of Jimi Hendrix is unparalleled; his innovative and ground breaking guitar work set the standard, but it was his songwriting, performing, and charm that extended his appeal beyond musicians. Hendrix was oozing music, and it was evidenced by these early sides, cut before his "discovery", move to London and imminent fame.

The Isley Brothers infectiously intense "Testify" was Jimi Hendrix first released recording session, and with his first guitar solo that was unleashed to the world, the man shows that he meant BUSINESS. He plays his break with a focused intensity that, no matter how many times I've heard it, still snaps my neck in to place in a way that no chiropractor ever could. After his release from the Army/ 101st Airborn in 1962, Seattle born Hendrix settled in Nashville, playing music with his army buddy Billy Cox. By early '64, Hendrix left for New York City, and began struggling to make a name for himself in the big apple.

All the while, The Isley Brothers pay tribute to the great soul stars of the day and whip up a fury akin to the most outrageous fire and brimstone revival.

Around the same time, hendrix also played on the session for Don Covay's "Mercy Mercy"; while that's a fine record in its own right, I'm not featuring it here due to space restraints. It's best heard on the excellent Hendrix box set West Coast Seattle Boy.

These sides have been reissued in different mixes/ edits, but here's part one and two as they were originally released in 1964.

from 1964...


In lesser hands than The Isley Brothers (with young Jimi Hendrix on guitar, no less) this track could have been a very pedestrian number that was downright forgettable. The song itself isn't much of anything, but in a way it's the precursor of James Brown's funk revolution that was brought on my the following year's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"; a rhythmic musical jam with lyrics that are more shouted/ chanted than sang. And other than JB himself, there was simply no one better at shouts than The Isleys, as they had been showing off since "Shout" back in 1959.

Plus, Hendrix plays some incredible, DRIVING guitar throughout; the definition of soulful, loose and fluid.

from 1964...


This record has been a holy grail of sorts for me since, oh, around 1990 when I first read about it in the book Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. In those days, of course, there was no internet so the possibilities of being able to hear this incredibly scarce record were close to impossible! Luckily, some time in the mid '90's I finally got to hear it, on a 5th or so generation cassette copy with tape hiss as loud as the music! Both sides lived up to and in fact, surpassed my expectations. It's a great record.

There are conflicting stories about authorship of "My Diary" (Arthur Lee is credited on the record, while Rosa Lee insists that she and Hendrix wrote the song) and also the year of recording (Rosa Lee claims 1964). The most likely story is that, in early 1965, young "Jimmy" Hendrix was on tour with Little Richard & The Upsetters when he decided to go AWOL in Los Angeles. Hendrix is said to have met Rosa Lee Brooks while they were both in the crowd at an Ike & Tina Turner show, and that night marked the beginning of a fleeting romance that lasted until Jimmy headed back to New York City. Rosa Lee knew Billy Revis, head of a small studio/ record label, who she and Hendrix persuaded to cut the single. Legend has it that when Rosa Lee picked up Arthur Lee to go to the recording session, Hendrix immediately became jealous and the situation became tense (the two reconnected a few years later without rivalry). Arthur's backing vocal is clearly heard on the record, and Hendrix lays down some of the greatest guitar work of his entire life on this track. The flip side, "Utee" was written in the studio and features a red hot Hendrix break. The record was announced in the Billboard Magazine in June of 1965, but other than a few rumblings in L.A, never went anywhere. Within a few months, Arthur Lee formed the group that, by the fall of 1965, became Love. Hendrix struggled along in New York for another year and some months until fate brought him into the lap of Animals bassist Chas Chandler, who took him to London and helped make him a star. Rosa Lee Brooks has kept on singing, but this seems to be her only release. And what a release it is! (note: both sides were issued on the excellent Hendrix box set West Coast Seattle Boy a few years back, but it doesn't diminish the thrill of owning and sharing the actual 45 one bit).

from 1965...


b/w UTEE

Every time I hear the intro to this great record, it reminds me of the flamboyant Little Richard interview in the 1973 Jimi Hendrix film where he claims that Jimi was ALREADY a star when he met him and was a member of Richard's band. As the luscious guitar intro proves, even though Jimi was playing in the Curtis Mayfield style at the time of this recording, he was a musician of grace, taste, finesse and a giant TALENT.

Allegedly Jimi's time with Richard was cut short due to the amount of attention Jimi was receiving on the bandstand which infuriated the star of the show, but fortunately he stuck around long enough to cut this one and only single.

For nearly five years (late '57 until 1962) Little Richard had left the sinners life of secular music, and became a preacher. It wasn't until an offer to tour England in '62 came on the table (thanks to Don Arden, villain of yesterday's post)that Richard made a return to his signature secular sounds.

This record shows off beautifully how well Richard can SING. Everyone knows that he can peel the paint off of the wall with the shouts, but damn does he put in a stellar vocal performance here.

from 1965...


File under "early Jimi Hendrix as session man". Jimi comes out blazing on the intro, and gets a chance to REALLY cut loose on side B.

Just like Hendrix moved east from Seattle to the Big Apple, vocalist and sax man Youngblood was transplanted into the bustling and cut-throat New York City music scene (he was born in Augusta, Georgia) and odds are the two met while playing with Curtis Knight & The Squires. Lonnie & Jimi obviously had a great chemistry that was demonstrated on this record (and their other one cut together, "Goodbye Bessie Mae", a past 45 of the day).

This record has erroneously been credited to 1963 many times, due to the "mistake" date on the label, common to so many Cameo-Parkway (and Motown) record labels.

from 1966...



Before being "discovered" by Chas Chandler and the formation of the Experience in England and the massive success that followed, Jimi Hendrix lived in abject poverty and took whatever gigs and sessions he could. Stints with The Isley Brothers and Little Richard which resulted in sessions and tours were perhaps the most high profile, yet there was a string of other fabulous soul singles cut that took full advantage of the man's wizardry of the guitar.

This is one of the most obscure singles which feature Jimi, and what he does during the intro is 100% pure Hendrix. The recent West Coast Seattle Boy box set collects this and other gems (including the impossible to find Rosa Lee Brooks "My Diary" single, which is not only Jimi's first session but also featured a pre-Love Arthur Lee), however the version of this song used on the set is a completely different take!

Jimmy Norman found the most success of his career in writing the lyrics to the eternal "Time Is On My Side", and released a handful of singles on his own.

from 1966...


Basically taking "Like A Rolling Stone" and changing the lyrics to reflect civil rights protest, this would be a great record in it's own right. However, even more interesting is the small credit on the label; "arranged by Jimmy Hendrix". Yep, Hendrix himself before fame, and before swapping the extra "m" and "y" in his name to become Jimi.

Hendrix lays out some killer fuzz tone and plays some of the other great licks that he played on his own famous version of "Like A Rolling Stone" recorded a year and a half later at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Curtis Knight was the bandleader that Hendrix worked with quite a bit, and there are many recordings of him with Jimi which would be too complex for me to get into in this entry. I love Curtis' powerful lyrics and delivery on this track.

Sadly, the contract that begat this record also became a thorn in Hendrix side; he was still legally bound to producer Ed Chalpin (manager Chas Chandler bought up all of Hendrix previous contracts except this one, which slipped thru the cracks), causing great stress and legal litigation in Jimi's life, the end result of which was Hendrix having to hand over the Band Of Gypsys album to Chalpin for release on capitol records. This was after two shoddy albums were also released by Chalpin of the Knight/ Hendrix recordings to cash in on Jimi's name.

from 1966...


Ft Worth, Texas native Ray Sharpe took influences from rock n roll, country and r&b music and created music that was entirely unique. While his early singles (including the big hit "Linda Lu") could be classified as rockabilly, these records also could fall into the r&b classification. What's in a label anyhow? 

By the time of this release, Ray was working in New York City with the legendary King Curtis.

Producer/ sax man King Curtis must have truly loved this track, as he used it THREE times, this being the first appearance. In early '67, Ray Sharpe's vocal was removed, the track was sped up and new lyrics were added and it became Aretha Franklin's incredible "Save Me". Finally, in '68 King Curtis reworked the same basic track and turned it into "Instant Groove".

It's no surprise that Curtis loved the track, as it's a smoker- taking its cue from Them's "Gloria", the track is a masterpiece is smoldering dynamics. While the track starts off in full flight, through some subtle nuances the musicians keep turning up the heat until its a smoldering inferno of go-go goodness. None other than Jimi Hendrix is on guitar, as well. Hendrix is really given a chance to play on Part 2, although he plays a very subtle (yet still effective) break.

from 1966...

A super cool double sider, made even more exciting by the presence of none other than Jimi Hendrix blazing on guitar during one of his earliest sessions.

Just like Hendrix, vocal and sax man Youngblood was transplanted into the bustling New York City music scene (he was born in Augusta, Georgia) and odds are the two met while playing with Curtis Knight & The Squires. Lonnie & Jimi obviously had a great chemistry that was demonstrated on this record (as well as on their other single together, "Go Go Shoes") and while Jimi only gets scant opportunities to cut loose, it's clear from Jimi's breaks on "Bessie Mae" that all the pieces were in place for Hendrix to turn the music world upside down only mere months after this record was cut.

This record has erroneously been credited to 1963 many times, due to the "mistake" date on the label, common to so many Cameo-Parkway (and Motown) record labels.

from 1966...



Ooh dig that guitar on the opening...Who else could it be... None other than Jimi Hendrix! This track was recorded in New York City shortly before Jimi left for England and became a superstar.

Not much of a song here, per se, but it's a really hot slice of simmering early funk and Jimi's incredible guitar and the pounding drums make this one hot record.

from 1966...



paul said...

Thanks. It's not too late to change your mind....

Patrick Plasse said...

Fantastic Derek!! Very Great RESPECT
for your blog...

Pattaya Rag said...

I'm with Paul - how about a weekly or monthly post to ease us off our addiction slowly......

Derek See said...

Well, as I said, I'm not going away completely! Just no more DAILY posts. Expect something once a week or so :-).