Guest Blogger: Gary Jucha is the author of Jimi Hendrix FAQ.
I knew when writing Jimi Hendrix FAQ for Backbeat that the risk of the book being out-of-date on its release date was to be expected. Experience Hendrix L.L.C., Jimi’s estate, has been especially active since signing a distribution deal with Sony in August 2009, having issued a standalone CD and two box sets of new material as well as numerous reissues of CDs and DVDs. And so it has come to pass. My book will hit the streets on March 19th, and the newest collection of Jimi’s work, People, Hell and Angels, was released a fortnight before. Since I couldn’t comment on People, Hell and Angels in Jimi Hendrix FAQ, I thought my publisher’s invitation to contribute to their blog a perfect opportunity for me to weigh in.
First a little background. People, Hell and Angels was the title Jimi Hendrix used in describing a triple album he was planning when feeling reinvigorated by the August 1970 mixing and overdubbing sessions in Electric Lady Studios according to Kathy Eberth, an assistant to Jimi’s manager Michael Jeffery; Keith Shadwick in Musician also claimed that Jimi used the album title in 1969 interviews. It is well known Jeffery was advocating a single album so when Eberth told author John McDermott that “… later First Rays of the New Rising Sun…” – another oft-quoted titled for the next album – “ made a comeback of sorts,” it was likely that that title for Jimi’s double album was a compromise on Jimi’s part.
The source material for People, Hell and Angels spans 29 months and features 24 musicians (although not Experience bassist Noel Redding, which means there’s lots of gritty New York City in this collection but no hits of Swinging London psychedelia). There’s two R&B work outs where Jimi’s contribution is limited to guitar and production, two Rainbow Sun and Gypsys tracks (that’s the line-up that played Woodstock), three instrumentals, four blues numbers, and five Band of Gypsy tracks (even if the majority were recorded before the trio was officially a band). All are held together by Eddie Kramer’s production. Kramer was Jimi’s favored engineer and he has masterfully mixed these recording sketches recorded at five different studios and made them sound like one session.
So People, Hell and Angels is highly recommended so long as you approach this as a book of mostly sketches and have no problem with the wholly three new tracks being without Hendrix vocals. My only minor objection is with the sequencing. I recommend this line-up instead: Hey Gypsy Boy Villanova Junction Blues/Hear My Train A Comin’/ Bleeding Heart/Mojo Man/Let Me Move You/Izabella/Easy Blues/Crash Landing/Earth Blues/Somewhere/Inside Out
Check out my blog at http://juchaartandmusic.wordpress.com/ for a longer mix of this review and my reasoning behind the alternate track sequencing.
Jimi Hendrix left the world too soon at the age of twenty-seven, but, despite the brevity of his career, his body of work is as vital to 20th-century music as that of Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, and Miles Davis. Hundreds of hours of unreleased studio sessions and concert performances were his salvation.
A modest man but highly competitive musician, Hendrix set the stage for many of the most significant musical movements to emerge between 1970 and 1999, including heavy metal, fusion, glam rock, and rap. Voodoo bluesman, sonic producer, the lyricist that out-Dylaned Dylan: these are what snatch our attention 40 years after his death, as do his “aw, shucks” smile in photos and the raw sexuality of his concert performances. It’s hard to find the man under all the falsehoods told by friends, business associates, and even Jimi himself. Jimi Hendrix FAQ attempts to present the facts in a fast-moving, fan-friendly read.
Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is an author and musician. To enjoy all of his works please visit his author page.
The writing of my best-selling series of books on guitar-based songwriting was grounded in my practical experience of writing and recording my own songs as well as listening carefully to those of others. I’ve now put a selection of songs in various styles on SoundCloud.com for listening. One song comes from an album of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys type songs. There’s another from an EP of songs marking the 25th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s five nights at Earl’s Court in London in 1975. There are two free downloads, out-takes from my forthcoming guitar instrumental album Atlantic Canticles. I’ve also included some extracts from my classical composing, including the first movements of a string quartet and a piano quartet, a string orchestra setting of the traditional folk tune ‘The Gaelic Waltz’, two extracts from commissioned music, and a short elegiac organ piece ‘For The Few’ written for the RAF pilots of the 1940 Battle of Britain. After the release of Atlantic Canticles I will release an album of songs.
Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.
A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.
In the Indica Gallery in London in 1966, Yoko had an apple for sale for £200. That’s US $3,000 in today’s dollars. This is the apple John Lennon walked in and bit, when he didn’t know Yoko Ono, and apparently he didn’t see the price tag or didn’t respect that this apple was an art piece.
John Lennon could buy anything — a pet monkey, a plane, a posse. When money is limitless, all things lose meaning –when they can’t be dreamt of and saved for, and maybe not gotten. How refreshing it must have been to see value inverted. If what is free (to be plucked easily off trees seeming to line every path) can be made beyond the common man’s ability to acquire, than what is beyond the common man’s ability to acquire must be free. How amazing, this apple!
How nice for Yoko that someone would mistake her art piece for the real thing, and bite it. All of her art was turning the real thing into art pieces so people would put on their special important expensive viewing eyes and just maybe they would see it, what had been there all along. They could have seen the real thing all the time, everywhere, but forgot to.
All Yoko Ono ever wanted was for people to bite what they thought could not be bitten, see what they thought could not be seen, know what they thought could not be known.
She was, it seems, Satan.
But there was a mistake in telling the story. Satan was the good guy. God didn’t want us to bite the apple of knowledge because then we’d know we were Him, and the patriarchy, the whole order of things, would turn to dust.
Keep reading this excerpt on SOMETHING ELSE Reviews.
Many people are aware of Yoko Ono’s art, and her music has always split crowds, from her caterwauling earliest work to her later dance numbers, but how many people have looked at Yoko Ono’s decades-spanning career and varied work in total and asked the simple question, “Is it any good?” A must-read for art and music fans interested in going beyond the stereotyped observations of Yoko as a Lennon hanger-on or inconsequential avant noisemaker.