Here is some thorough and interesting information that fellow fans Mac (and Laservampire) were kind enough to share.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED
The original Track “AYE” mono mix was also used by Polydor International for their South African, Australian & Japanese releases and it was also used by France’s Barclay Records (with the psychedelic cover). Barclay’s 1971 re-release which features an Isle Of Wight photo on the cover (see above) is considered to be the best ever mono pressing – matrices “BAR 820 143 A2 / BAR 820 143 B1”). For some reason, Barclay didn’t transfer the master to pressing in the same way that Track had done and by chance they got a punchier, clearer sound (more details below). This pressing can also be found in the very last runs of the first psychedleic sleeve and very early runs of the Mobious two-fer. So to be sure you are getting the correct pressing with those two versions, you must check the matrix. Beware there are also counterfeits! That mix was discontinued in the UK after the release of Backtrack 10 in 1970 and has never been available since, except in Brazil (1970), Japan (1979 & 1980) and on the French Barclay double LP re-release with “Axis” (art by Mobeus).
Germany & the rest of Europe never got to hear the original mono mix, as from it’s first 1967 release they were treated to the dreadful Polydor Europe ‘mono enhanced for stereo’ (fake stereo effect) the LP’s were also misleadingly labelled ‘Stereo’ (I bought a new copy during a visit to Sweden in 1972 attracted by the ‘stereo’ label and was sorely disappointed). This pressing persisted into the eighties through several re-releases.
The Reprise Records (N. America) original mono release, uniquely, used a selection of these original mono versions replacing three songs with original Track mono singles.
A closer listen to”3rd Stone” will reveal that Jimi actually says “War, speak water” closely followed by a quiet “Speak” (as in “You’ve got my head, speak electric water” in ‘Freedom’) On the much clearer Reprise stereo mix Jimi can also be heard to say later in the song in slowed down speech”Yeah, a acid drop can make people fly”. For “3rd Stone””, the music is mono with just the vocals and sound effects being separated to create the stereo effect and the “War, speak water” overdub being removed. Other slowed down speech on the song these phrases : “…Let’s try one…yeah a acid drop can make people fly huhuh jjhhooooo…”/”The trip has dropped heh-heh, yeah”/”Trip, [sniff] trip”/”But does it work, acid hurt”/”Song is beautiful” and Jimi even says “Hidden lyrics” at one point !
Not forgetting the exchange between Jimi and Chas which you can hear at normal speed on the MCA box set :
Jimi: Star fleet to scout ship, please give your position, over
Chas: I am in orbit around the third planet of star known as Sun, over
Jimi: May this be Earth? Over
Chas: Positive, it is known to have some form of intelligent species, over
Jimi: I think we should take a look tsssshjjhoooo…..) [only clearly audible on USA stereo]
Reprise Records (N. America) also released their unique selection of tracks in an excellent stereo re-mix (by Eddie Kramer?? & Jimi??, as there are several extra vocals here and there).
Above: the best ever mono version of Are You Experienced (Barclay, France 1971 re-release)
Renowned researcher Professor Stoned gathered some important information concerning the mono tapes. Here are his findings:
“Chas Chandler & Jimi Hendrix first visited IBC Studios (London) in late Nov./early Dec. 1966 to have lacquers produced for their debut single. They were assigned to Brian Carroll who only had had an ample year of work experience as a cutting engineer but he managed to impress Chandler with his efforts that day. After this first session, Chandler started shipping the tapes of the following singles to IBC, assured that Carroll would translate them to disc in the best possible way.
When it came to cutting the lacquers of the first British album in April ’67, Chandler did not feel a necessity to attend the session, even though he had labored hard on the end-result. It appears Chandler sent a master tape with splices that had to be duplicated for use. Only one cutting was ever used for the original UK edition and it has a dull one-dimensional sound. Most likely, the reason for this lies with Carroll when copying the original tape. He cut the high-end and heavily compressed the sound, possibly with the intention to avoid jumping needles on the cheap phonographs of the day (as was not uncommon practice at the time).
A production copy for Reprise with the 11-track UK sequence was prepared at Olympic Studios on May 12, 1967 (the same day that saw the British release). This tape had rough sounding tape patches inserted to replace a bit of audio at the end of both ‘Fire’ & ‘Red House’. The latter track was never used by Reprise but the great majority of the tape ended up being the source for the American mono version of “Are You Experienced”. The audio on this tape had received a similar lo-fi mastering treatment, although there are a few notable EQ differences to the UK pressing.
The rights to Hendrix’s recorded works belonged to Yameta Co. Ltd. Yameta had licensing deals with Polydor, Reprise & Barclay. The latter was a big independent company in France who pressed their own records and had a distribution network. They were probably among the first to receive a tape of the album. The Barclay tape is assumed to have been a flat copy from the banded master tape with EQ/compression instructions.
Barclay did not receive a stereo master in the years that followed, thus they kept using the mono version all the way through the 70’s. When a second pair of lacquers had to be cut around 1970, the original mastering instructions were ignored. So while the original French pressing from 1967 sounds quite similar to the UK Track, the second cutting sounds much less compressed and has plenty of high-end information (which would be impossible to retrieve from a tape that sounds like the first pressing). The EQ balance is a bit off and the tape was played back on a stereo machine that was not calibrated properly but the full-frequency response on this cutting remains unheard elsewhere. Barclay did one more cutting around 1973, following the original mastering instructions, which again resulted in a muffled sounding pressing.
At least one other tape copy straight from the banded master is known to have been sent to the German-based company Polydor. Other than handling distribution for Track Records in the UK, they released the album globally (apart from North-America & France). Polydor had already stopped doing mono albums by 1967 but the stereo mixes were not available to them yet, so an electronically re-channeled “stereo” version was created, which arguably still has better fidelity than the UK Track. This master was used well into the 70’s for the majority of international Polydor releases. Only in Japan, an exclusive mono reissue on vinyl was released by Polydor in 1977 but once again with unimpressive sound quality.
As the 70’s progressed, Polydor replaced their fake stereo version with a poorly copied dub from the USA stereo masters (the same tape they hadn’t bothered to make a copy of in 1967 before it was sent to Reprise). This was the source for the first CD reissue of the album in 1984, which contains a mix of stereo and two mono mixes: ‘Red House’ and ‘Remember’, both recorded directly from vinyl.
The UK mono version remained suspiciously absent on the CD format in the following decades. Only ‘Red House’ was included on the 1997 remastered edition of “Are You Experienced” (again taken from vinyl with surface noise in stereo) and ‘Can You See me’ from the 2010 “West Coast Seattle Boy” with poor sound.
In January 2013, a vinyl-only mono edition of “Are you experienced” was announced and advertised as being sourced from the original mastertapes. This turned out to be a bit of stretch: it was mastered from a mixture of 1st generation single masters & the production master that was sent to Reprise in 1967 (a picture of its box was taken during the 2013 mastering session). The dull sound presentation came as a disappointment to many listeners but it received positive reviews as well.
Exactly what happened to the banded mono mastertape remains a mystery. My best guess is that it was thrown out in the 70’s, along with the UK mono master of “Smash Hits” which may well have had the original tape master of ‘Stone Free’ pasted in. No tape copies seem to have survived, other than the aforementioned inferior USA tape.”
(Researched & written by Prof. Stoned – First published Fall 2013 – Revisited: Summer 2017)
2020 SACD remaster
AXIS BOLD AS LOVE
The original Track “Axis” mono mix was very popular in the UK where it was more common than the stereo mix (which was identified by a small white sticker on the front with ‘STEREO’ in black text). This was also released in N. America on Reprise. I haven’t heard of any other mono releases
The original Track “Axis” stereo mix was released world wide except for Germany and the rest of Europe (outside of France & UK) where they were treated to a substantially different mix. This also replaced the original mono & stereo mixes in the UK when they were discontinued in 1970 and replaced by “Backtrack 11” (but with the extra track band and gap in ‘If 6 was 9′ now removed). All subsequent UK & European re-releases contained this mix, except for France’s Barclay Records releases, until Allan Douglas’ re-mastered CD 1993 release on MCA. So for 20-23 years the Europeans etc. have had a different mix of “Axis” from N. America & France.
This was released by Track in the UK & Polydor in Japan both in mono & ‘m.e.f.s’ (fake stereo) editions, it was only available in the rest of Europe on Polydor with the ‘m.e.f.s’ (fake stereo) pressing . When Polydor UK originally re-released this (1970?) they used the ‘m.e.f.s’ (fake stereo) version until they re-issued it on Polydor Super about 1973 when they mostly used the stereo Reprise versions (except for “Stars TPWLS Dice”, “51st Anniversary” & “Highway Chile” which are mono and “Stone Free” which is fake stereo) although it still has the original cover art with ‘Enhanced for stereo from original mono recordings’ on the back cover – somebody not paying attention, again!
These Reprise versions mostly have longer fade outs, which reveal more of the original lyrics & sometimes reveal previously buried lyrics. In the case of “Can You See Me” the double tracked vocals of the original have just been split into separate channels to create a stereo effect, the music is still mono except for the panning of the “twaang’ lead guitar overdub a couples of times.
Here are some detailed differences within “Can You See Me” in relation to the original Track mono version :
0.29 “all right” (replacing “yeah” from mono vinyl)
0.52 “yeah, baby” (replacing “all right” from mono vinyl)
1.02 “you must be jokin'” (replacing a very faint “Oh no” from mono vinyl)
1.41 “oh, you’d better open up your ears, baby” (replacing “oh, you’d better listen, baby, ow!” from mono vinyl)
1.51 “aw, shucks” (replacing “ah, how!” from mono vinyl)
“Can you see me?” (mono vinyl has “hear” instead of “see” and “yeah, a-ha” at the end)
“I don’t believe you can see me, woah, yeah” (mono vinyl has “hear” instead of “see”)
2.31 “You can’t see me” (replacing “yeah’ from mono vinyl)
Barclay didn’t release this in France , but released their unique Greatest Hits mix of tracks instead.
No mono mixed versions of this album were issued, however there are single LP releases in mono from 1969 in some Latin American countries on the Polydor label, although I’ve never heard these. Some songs are supposedly true mono mixes and some are stereo merged into mono. The track list is:
ELECTRIC LADYLAND, mono, single LP – Sides A and D of the original release.
Polydor Peru (LPG 624.11) also Uruguay (different cover) 1969
Side 1: …And The Gods Made Love, Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland), Crosstown Traffic*, Little Miss Strange, Long Hot Summer NighT, Gipsy Eyes, Burning Of The Midnight Lamp*
Side 2: Still Raining, Still Dreaming, House Burning Down, All Along The Watchtower, Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
There was also this curiosity, a pressing for the US Armed Forces Radio & Television Service (RL-23-9) which had one side of mono “Ladyland” tracks
Side 1: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN (To Electric Ladyland), COME ON (PART 1), GYPSY EYES, RAINY DAY, DREAM AWAY, STILL RAINING, STILL DREAMING
Side 2: GETTING TO KNOW YOU – SAYID KHAN [the 1st Moslem teen idol], SEPTEMBER BLUE – PAT BOONE, HEY MISTER – FOUR JACKS AND A JILL, MAKE A NOISE LIKE LOVE – GENE AND DEBBIE, DON’T ASK WHY – ANDRE GAGNON AND HIS ORCH., THOSE WERE THE DAYS – AL HIRT, C’MON MARRIANNE – GRAPEFRUIT *
* Jimi, Kathy Etchingham and Brian Jones attended the launch party for Grapefruit’s 2nd single “Dear Delilah’ (Apple), at the GPO Tower restaurant, London January 1st 1969.
“Backtrack 1” LP (1970, price: 99 pence!) had the first European release of the Reprise stereo mix of ‘The Wind Cries Mary’.
“Backtrack 3” LP (1970, price: 99 pence!) also had the Reprise mix of ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ plus the first European release of the Reprise stereo mixes of “Hey Joe” & “Purple Haze”. The “Hey Joe” Reprise mix would soon re-appear on the UK chart topping posthumous EP “Voodoo Chile”, Jimi’s only number one 45 release in the UK.
“Backtrack 10” LP (1970) although labelled as mono, was the first release outside of N. America to use the Reprise “AYE” stereo mix tracks, (which I remember as being a very exciting discovery at the time, a full price US import then being prohibitively expensive, this LP cost only £1.00!) except for “3rd Stone” for some strange reason. “Can You See Me” &” Remember” from the Reprise stereo “Smash Hits” could also have been used, but these three tracks were left in mono (the mono “Red House” also has the chat at the end cut) two of which appear to me to be slightly ‘m.e.f.s’ (fake stereo effect) This compilation of different mixes was the one used for subsequent UK & later European releases. In 1983 the Reprise stereo “3rd Stone” became available on the Singles Album and was eventually added to the HMV AYE box re-release (Spelp97) leaving “Red House”, “Can you See Me” & “Remember” in mono [fake stereo?] When Polydor released the CD in 1989 it still unbelievably had “Remember” in fake stereo. The mono French “AYE” was replaced by – to my ears – a slightly ‘mono enhanced for stereo’ (fake stereo) version (1971?), with the IOW photo cover. In 1991 Polydor Europe & Japan released the complete original Reprise AYE stereo LP version on CD but misleadingly used the original European cover. The alternate take stereo “Red House” was only available in Europe on the “WOW!” bootleg LP (1971) until the release of Allan Douglas’ “Kiss The Sky” CD sampler in 1984. So the first European release containing the full set of Reprise stereo mixes was Allan Douglas’ 1993 re-mastered CD release on MCA.
> See the Compilations section for details of the Backtrack series of albums.
FAKE TRACK LP’s
Track Records closed down in 1978, but in 1981 Polydor Europe released two promotional LP’s with the Track logo and labels although these are slightly different from the originals. The LP’s were “AYE” and “Axis”, they both came in single un-laminated glossy sleeves with the original artwork, although the “AYE” front cover had the added European ‘Jimi Hendrix’ type, this time in white, but not the added track list on the back. The back cover of “Axis” was plain black with a small print of the original inner cover photo and a track list. Some copies were stamped with gold lettering ‘promotional copy &endash; not for re-sale’. “AYE” used the “Backtrack 10” mix and “Axis” used the “Backtrack 11” mix.
Thanks for all this research info Mac !
Another look at the mono mixes/albums at Analog Planet
THE BEATLES – Stereo vs Mono
Check out this interesting page about The Beatles mono and stereo mixes – Here