TRACK-LIST:Love (instr.) 8:28; Hush Now (instr.) 5:12; Gloomy Monday 3:32; Happy Birthday 2:21; Ballad Of Jimi 2:26; Level (instr.) 2:50; Love Love 5:14; Get That Feeling 5:18; Future Trip 2:28; No Business 3:17; Odd Ball (instr.); 3:02; Flashing (instr.) 3:44; Day Tripper 3:17; U.F.O. 2:54
Studio sessions from July-August 1967 in NYC, shortly after the Monterey Festival had shot Jimi to fame. Jimi plays his distinctive style with the new invention, the wah wah effect, and 8-string bass, together with his old mentor Curtis Knight. Extensive and informative notes – the third CD in the series.
Jimi Hendrix became a superstar very quickly. From being almost destitute, then being whisked out of New York blues clubs by Chas Chandler in 1966, to the hit singles ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘Purple Haze’ and the ‘Are You Experienced’ album only took one short year. So after the Monterey Festival in 1967 when America also fell under his spell, he returned to New York City, and hung out with his old bandleader Curtis Knight (as documented in the now deleted ‘Drivin’ South’ FREUD CD 65 and ‘Knock Yourself Out’ FREUD CD 66), who’d given a guitar to Jimi when he’d pawned his in hard times. And hanging out with Curtis usually meant going down to the studio and working on a few things…
In 1965, Jimi had signed a contract with Ed Chalpin to record with Curtis. It was still valid when he recorded with the Experience, and Chalpin issued legal writs against Hendrix and his new record company (ownership wrangles still go on – even now Chalpin is threatening to release the ‘Are You Experienced’ album). Jimi knew of the legal problems, but didn’t think anything of going to record again with Chalpin in his studio. Only Jimi expressed surprise when the recordings were then released…
Experimenting with the new wah-wah pedal gadget, and an 8-string bass guitar, Jimi the new star jammed and worked on various songs over four nights in July and August 1967. The tracks, such as ‘Love’, ‘Gloomy Monday’ and ‘Hush Now’ and more show Jimi in his instantly recognisable Hendrix guitar style, and others such as ‘Day Tripper’ show that he also was a gifted bass-player.
A fascinating and intriguing article, these historic 1967 recordings have previously only been issued mixed up with the very different 1965 recordings with little or no background explanation. ‘The Summer Of Love Sessions’ comes with a 12-page booklet with notes by guitarist and author, ex-Only Ones John Perry, together with full details and photos taken during the actual recording sessions.
Jimi Hendrix left New York in September 1966 a complete unknown. When he returned to the city the following summer he was a star; the hottest new guitar player on the planet.
What happened in between says as much about the nature of hype as any radical development in Hendrix's playing, but consider it for a moment in personal terms. Six or seven years grafting, dragging round the South on R&B tours, slogging away in bars and clubs getting nowhere much at all – then, in as many months, you're right at the top. Press gone crazy. First album roaring up the charts. Big stars queuing up to jam with you. How would it feel, returning to your own country and your adopted hometown? What would be your first inclination? You'd probably seek out the musicians you'd worked with, spread a little hospitality round, play awhile, drink some and share some of your amazing good fortune.
That's what Hendrix did – and in a New York studio, someone left the tape rolling…
* * *
When it happened, it happened fast. Hendrix arrived in London known only to a few fellow musicians; English rockers who'd seen him in Greenwich Village clubs, and chitlin circuit veterans like Little Richard and The Isleys, who'd employed him as a rhythm guitarist. A couple of months working out of London changed all that.
In May '67 the first album Are You Experienced was released, and in early June Hendrix returned home to play his first American show, at the Monterey Pop festival. The reaction was immediate. Bill Graham booked the Experience for five nights at the Fillmore. From the West Coast the word of mouth spread across the country.
Hendrix's management decided it’d be a good idea to book the band onto a US package tour featuring The Monkees. The idea wasn’t quite as far-fetched as it sounds. In Britain, Hendrix had already done similar tours with The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck but by mid-1967 the scene was changing. America was changing. Monterey marks the moment when the Underground came overground, a separate subculture with its own venues, radio stations and record-buying habits. What had worked in wintertime England was already out of date in the American Summer of Love.
After a few dates with the Monkees, Hendrix wanted off the tour. Experience PR man Michael Goldstein invented a yarn. Why not claim The Daughters of The American Revolution (that singularly un-revolutionary mixture of Women's Institute and John Birch Society) had protested that Hendrix and his lewd jungle rhythms were corrupting the virginal minds of sensitive American children? Get him offa the tour!
The Experience quit after a show at Forest Hills and headed straight for more appropriate and congenial surroundings in New York clubland. The fortnight they spent hanging out in the clubs was their first break from non-stop gigging since January.
Away from the Experience, Hendrix went into Ed Chalpin's Studio 76 with his old partner, Curtis Knight. From these sessions came the tracks on this album, The Summer of Love Sessions. (Curtis Knight and Hendrix can be heard together on the CD's Driving South and Knock Yourself Out FREUD CD 065 and FREUD CD 066 – rarities now, as they're out of print.) .
The album offers an opportunity to check out Hendrix's bass playing, which goes uncredited on Experience tracks like All Along The Watchtower (on much of Electric Ladyland in fact). But there’s no doubt here. Tracks 8-14 all feature Jimi on bass, most probably played upside down on a right-handed bass, too. It's clear he was listening to kind of parts Jamie Jamerson was playing on contemporary Tamla records, long fluid lines dodging around the melody instead of simply following the chords.
Alongside the single The Burning of The Midnight Lamp / The Stars That Play with Laughing Sams Dice these are some of the very earliest recordings of Hendrix using a wah-wah pedal. You can tell he’s enchanted by the hammering he gives it! As you might expect, he takes very little time to master the device. Straight away he’s able to get a range of expression out of an effect whose limits, at least in the hands (and feet) of most players, are pretty clearly circumscribed. On cuts such as the instrumental Level he’s tasteful in the extreme, whilst on others (Love Love for example) he goes wah-crazy!
The album opens with an eight-minute instrumental Love which features bags of ‘scratch-wah’; that’s deadening the strings with left hand (or in Hendrix’s case the right) so that no actual note is voiced, then scrubbing across them with the pick. With the wah-wah pedal added, it’s possible to articulate some pretty speechlike sounds – or if that’s too much effort, you can always produce the regulation Ike Hayes superbad sex machine-gun Shaft effect. Damn!!!
Hush Now is built round one of the stronger riffs on the album and contains some sweetly phrased lead guitar. It’s instructive to compare it with the instrumental Level…
The Curtis Knight song Gloomy Monday – a celebration of “the weekend” – is a fairly standard funk-ballad arrangement with a typical Hendrix guitar figure at the intro. The bridge is a surprise though. From the ‘Get Out My Life Woman’ feel of the verse, the song suddenly veers into waltz-time; one of those merry-go-round 3/4 devices which often seemed such a good idea to early psychedelic songwriters.
Also in compound time is the Ballad of Jimi. The writing credits are compounded too, sometimes accrediting Curtis Knight, sometimes Ed Dantes. Knight seems the more likely writer of a song that went through a number of versions between 1965 and 1970. A lilting requiem for Jimi Hendrix in 6/8 time, there’s nothing especially novel about the sentiments – “a song dedicated to the memory of my best friend” – except that this particular best friend wasn’t dead! Hendrix wasn’t to die for another three years.
Now Jimi's gone, he's not alone.
Maybe it appealed to Jimi’s sense of humour? His closing chord is a portentous, doomy chord suspension sustained under the final line, which wrings maximum melodrama out the word ‘dead’. More likely though, this version of the vocal was dubbed over the 1967 track, new lyrics and all, after Hendrix’s death in September 1970 to facilitate a quick single release while the news was still hot (and the corpse still warm).
Get That Feeling is a straightforward soul/rave workout with namechecks for the soul hall of fame, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha, and helpful dance instructions too – “Two steps up/You gotta repeat.” Daytripper is the Beatles standard reworked with Jimi playing a funked up bassline on a Hagstrom 8 string bass. It’s funkier both than the original and the Hendrix version found on the BBC Peel Sessions. Check for yourself: here they are – Jimi Hendrix and The Summer of Love Sessions.
John Perry is a guitarist and author. He formed the Only Ones with Peter Perrett and has recently published 2 books for Simon & Schuster, “Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy - The Who’s Singles” and “Exile on Main Street.”