NINE TO THE UNIVERSE ♥♥♥½
Released June 1980 (UK-Polydor, US-Reprise)
SIDE 1: Nine To The Universe, Jimi/Jimmy Jam,
SIDE 2: Young/Hendrix, Easy Blues, Drone Blues.
After issuing two faked Hendrix albums in the seventies, Alan Douglas put together this very interesting album. There is no after-the-event overdubbing here, but as subsequent releases have revealed, the jams from which these tracks were assembled were heavily edited. That is not necessarily a bad thing. For years Miles Davis for example had left hours of jams in the hands of his producer Ted Macero, who edited everything down to make some of the musicians classic albums. Here, Alan Douglas adopted the same technique (although, unlike Miles, Jimi was not around to approve it!) to create an exciting glimpse of Jimi working out at the Record Plant in New York, in early to mid 1969.
Douglas wisely edited out some passages (where Jimi perhaps toyed with a riff repeatedly, searching for ideas) to create something more uniform. All tracks are instrumental (apart from a brief vocal on the title track) and some tracks lean towards a jazzy or jazzy blues feel, which had always been part of Jimi’s music anyway (“Up From The Skies”, Rainy Day”, “Tax Free”) and these jam sessions are seen to be a pointer as to where some of Jimi’s music might have been heading for in the future.
Jimi was interested in elements of jazz improvisation but felt inhibited by the intense academic approach of many top musicians in the field. Jimi played on his instincts and couldn’t read sheet music! At one point he met Miles Davis and they planned to work together but once money was discussed, negociations unfortunately fell apart. Also, just before he died, Jimi was lined up to record with ace saxophonist Roland Kirk (they had jammed together) and arranger Gil Evans (famous for his work with Miles Davis). Evans in fact later put out a tribute album to Jimi in the seventies, which gave hints as to how their collaboration might have sounded.
Alan Douglas had planned to include a jam with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin here, but the latter blocked its release (he had played only on an acoustic guitar unfortunately fitted up with a faulty pick-up) so the tapes remained on the shelf. In 1970, Douglas had produced a McLaughlin album (“Devotion”) which featured Buddy Miles and keyboard player Larry Young, who plays with Jimi here on “Young/Hendrix”.
In 1969, Young also played alongside McLaughlin in Tony Williams’ Lifetime and with Miles Davis on the Bitches Brew album.
The opening track is a jam on a riff that would become “Message To Love” later in the year. On the fabulous “Easy Blues”, Jimi’s friend Larry Lee plays second guitar (he was of course part of Jimi’s “Woodstock” band). “Jimi/Jimmy Jam” has Jim McCarty (of Buddy Miles Express and later Cactus) on second guitar and perhaps Roland Robinson (who was Eddie Flyod’s bassist I think) or Dave Holland. The superb “Drone Blues” features passages that Jimi had previously used in “Drivin’ South” and would later work into “Midnight Lightning”.
It’s interesting to note that Billy Cox plays bass throughout here (except on track two) and this happened while The Experience were still together. The first track, from May 1969, even features Buddy Miles on drums, “A Band Of Gypsys” therefore, months before they were to officially exist. The rest of the tracks feature Mitch Mitchell and Rocky Issacs (“Drone Blues“).
In the preface to the book he put together with Eddie Kramer, “Setting The Record Straight”, John McDermott called this album “shoddy” – couldn’t be further from the truth and this album trumps all the non-Dagger Records outtake albums that the two cobbled together from the year 2000 onwards.
Alan Douglas is remembered as someone who took unforgivable liberties with Jimi’s left over material. Yes, he tinkered around here again, but he did make a damn good job of it, and from here on, he took pains to deliver authentic quality Hendrix, with some good results.
Tracks reissued in their complete form:
– “Jimi/Jimmy Jam” and “Drone Blues” on “Hear My Music” (Dagger Records 2004)
– “Young/Hendrix” on “West Coast Seattle Boy” box sets (Sony 2010)
– “Easy Blues” on “People, Hell & Angels” (Sony 2013)
This album was re-released in 2006 (unofficially) by the Michael Jeffrey estate on the Reclamation label as “Message From Nine To The Universe).
This even looks like a jazz album with it’s soft candid photo of Jimi peering into the void. – 8/10
MESSAGE FROM NINE TO THE UNIVERSE
Released 1979 (Brazil – WEA 38-023)
Side 1: Hendrix/Young Jam, Hendrix/Lee Space jam, Drone Blues
Side 2: Message From Nine To The Universe, Hendrix/McCarty Jam
Nine To The Universe was released in 1980 but curiously, in 1979 the recordings were released on WEA in Brazil. The album title and three song titles were slightly different.
Perhaps this was released as a sort of test-pressing exercise.
That’s a photo from the Royal Albert Hall performance on February 18th 1969. Out of context for studio recordings but not a bad cover – 7/10
Doriella du Faontaine (12″ single) ♥♥
Released July 1984 (Celluloid Douglas Records CEL 166)
Not an album this time but a 12 inch single track, which is a sort of proto jazz poetry/rap/hip-hop piece by Jalal Nurridin a.k.a. Lighnin’ Rod of The Last Poets. He does his long (prety tedious) rap while Jimi and Buddy Miles (on drums and organ) chug away behind. What Jimi and Buddy play is perhaps looped because it goes on and on with hardly a deviation from the basic rhythm.
– An extended instrumental version was on the flip of the 12″
– Later released on CD (see Singles Sleeves Part 3) and re-released on CD in 2011.
– In April 2020 the song was included on a rock/funk compilation which came with MOJO magazine.
> Alan Douglas produced The Last Poets debut album which was released in June 1970.
> There was some confusion in 2011 when, for a re-release of this song, the label’s website stated that the vocal had been added in the 70s! I emailed Celluloid to get confirmation of this and they replied, telling me that Alan Douglas informed them that the vocals were done in 1973! He must have meant that it was mixed in 1973. In Corey A. Washington’s book “Black Legacy”, TaharQa Aleem (one of The Ghetto Fighters) says that he was present at the session with Jimi, Buddy and Lightnin’ Rod.
RADIO ONE ♥♥♥♥
Released 1988 (Rykodisk)
SIDE 1: Stone Free, Radio One (You’re The One For Me), Day Tripper(Lennon/McCartney), Killing Floor(Burnett), Love Or Confusion, Catfish Blues (Robert Petway)
SIDE 2: Drivin’ South (Collins), Wait Until Tomorrow, Gettin’ My Heart Back Together, Hound Dog (Leiber/Stoller), Fire
SIDE 3: Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon), Purple Haze, Spanish Castle Magic, Hey Joe (Roberts), Foxy Lady, Burning Of The Midnight Lanp
That’s BBC Radio One of course, and I haven’t forgotten a side, it was a 3-sided double vinyl. This was a stunning collection of the Experience’s many studio recordings from February to December 1967, for radio transmission in the UK (lucky Brits !). This album captured all the excitement and enthusiasm of the band during the wild and wonderful year of 1967. Despite the live feel of these tracks, the band in fact made an effort to do overdubs on some numbers (a tradition at the BBC) creating excellent versions of their songs, some of which even rival the original album versions. We are also treated to many rarer songs from their repertoire. There is a nicely finished studio version of “Killing Floor” for example. Then there are “Day Tripper”, “Love Or Confusion”, “Catfish Blues”, “Drivin’ South”, “Wait Until Tomorrow”, “Hound Dog”, “Hoochie Coochie Man”, … an amazing selection of tracks.
The legendary British bluesman Alexis Korner, who welcomed the band to his own radio show, accompanies them on slide guitar for “Hoochie Coochie Man” (on that track Noel plays an eight string bass of all things). For “Day Tripper”, the band are joined by Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt on backing vocals (and not John Lennon as often stated). When John Peel introduced “Catfish Blues” during a seventies retransmission of these recordings he called it “Experiencing The Blues”, perhaps the title Jimi had given it on the day (he also called it “Muddy Water Blues” and it eventually evolved into the“Voodoo Chile” on “Electric Ladyland”). Older Brits will recognize the Radio One DJ Alan Freeman talking over the intro to “Fire” and Brian Mathew on “Purple Haze“.
This wonderful record was originally a (three sided) double vinyl. Everything here was later re-released with thirteen extra tracks as “BBC Sessions”, a double CD, in 1998 on MCA (see Studio 90s).
> The japanese version had alternate versions of “Drivin’ South” and “Hear My Train A Comin” (thanks to Electric Thing for that info).
All tracks available today on: “BBC Sessions”
The cover shot is I think from the free open air afternoon gig at Golden Gate Park San Francisco (25/06/67) after which the band played 2 more shows at the Filmore West ! The photo projects all the excitement and flash of the Wild Man Of Rock circa ’67 – 9/10
Day Tripper/Drivin’ South(alternate take)/Hear My Train A Comin(alternate take)
Released 1988 (Ryko)
This three track CD single was essential for collectors at the time because it featured two alternate takes that were absent from the Radio One album.
Those two takes were to re-surface later on the BBC Sessions album in 1998.
THE PEEL SESSIONS
Radio One Theme, Day Tripper, Wait Until Tomorrow, Hear My Train A Comin, Spanish Castle Magic
Some tracks also appeared as part of the series of CDs “The Peel Sessions” (recordings broadcast by the famous BBC presenter John Peel).
The first CDs
The mid 80s were the early days of CD technology and a number of albums from the old Polydor and Reprise catalogues were issued. This included an “Electric Ladyland” double CD (which got the running order wrong !) and many other albums which were deleted in the mid 90s when the Hendrix family gained control of the estate. So that meant that “Cry Of Love”, “War Heroes”, “Loose Ends”, “Crash Landing”, “Midnight Lightning”, “Isle Of Wight”, “Jimi Plays Monterey”, “Live At Winterland”, “Jimi Hendrix Concerts”, “Jimi Hendrix – Film Soundtrack” and “The Singles Album” all disappeared from the catalogue. Also note that “Nine To The Universe” was never officially released as a CD.
The early CDs were released in various countries and with mastering differences. Details can be read here:
LIVE & UNRELEASED- THE RADIO SHOW ♥♥♥
Released November 1989 (Castle Communications)
Disc 1 – I Don’t Live Today (L.A. Forum, Apr 26, 1969), Cherokee Mist (Home Demo, early 1968, NYC), Testify (with Isley Brothers, 1964), Lawdy Miss Clawdy (with Little Richard, 1964), I’m A Man (with Curtis Knight and the Squires, 1964), Like A Rolling Stone (Generation Club, NYC, Apr mid, 1968), Red House (L’Olympia, Paris, Oct 9, 1967), Hey Joe, Hoochie Koochie Man (“Rhythm and Blues” BBC, Oct 17, 1967), Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Foxy Lady (“Saturday Club” BBC, Feb 13, 1967)
Disc 2 – Are You Experienced, Third Stone From The Sun, Rock Me Baby (“Monterey), Mister Bad Luck (Olympic Sound Studios, London, May 4 1967), Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, Spanish Castle Magic, Bold As Love, One Rainy Wish (alternate mix), Little Wing, Drivin’ South (“Top Gear”, Oct 6, 1967), The Things I Used To Do (Record Plant, NYC, May 15, 1969, with Johnny Winter), All Along The Watchtower, Drifter’s Escape (alternate mix), Cherokee Mist (Record Plant, NYC, May 2, 1968), Voodoo Chile (Home Demo, early 1968, NYC), Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (Take Four), 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be) (alternate version)
Disc 3 – Voodoo Chile, Come On (part 1) (alternate take), Manic Depression (Winterland Arena, Oct 12, 1968 (2nd show), Machine Gun (Fillmore East, Dec 31, 1969 (2nd show), Room Full Of Mirrors (alternate mix), Angel (Home Demo, early 1968, NYC), Rainy Day Shuffle (Record Plant, NYC, June 10, 1968), Valleys Of Neptune (Electric Lady Studios, NYC, Jan, 1970/Hit Factory, NYC, Sept, 1969), Send My Love To Linda (Electric Lady Studios, NYC, Aug, 1970), South Saturn Delta (Record Plant, NYC, June 14, 1968), Dolly Dagger (Isle Of Wight Festival, Aug 30, 1970), Night Bird Flying, Hear My Train A Comin’ (BBC Radio)
An interesting (UK released) box set of 3 CDs featuring a Hendrix tribute in 1988 by the American radio station Westwood One. Note that these are not recordings especially laid down for radio shows (as with the BBC sessions) but familiar songs from Jimi’s albums plus many unissued or alternate studio (and a few live) takes from the vaults, some of which found their way onto future CD releases. Among all the narration and interviews (many with Jimi), there are some interesting moments. For hard core fans only.
Only the tracks in bold are pretty well complete and there were some interesting alternates to discover here. On “One Rainy Wish” we hear the complete ending after the fade out of the “Axis” master. The “Ladyland” outtakes are fascinating, particulalrly the alternate versions of “1983” and the “Rainy Day Shuffle” jam.
There are short exracts of “Little One” (an instrumental outtake with Dave Mason on sitar) and a “Like A Rolling Stone” from a jam at The Generation Club in 68.
There is an early version of “Look Over Yonder” called “Mister Bad Luck” and “Things That I Used To Do” is a jam with Johnny Winter and Steve Stills. “Valleys Of Neptune” and “Send My Love To Linda” are interesting early sketches of songs and “South Saturn Delta” is an extraordinary experiment of Jimi’s, with a small brass section* (he had been impressed with the work of Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago in this direction). Those “home demos” later appeared complete on “Jimi By Himself” (a limited edition CD included in a graphic novel of Jimi’s life).
This set was re-released the following year as “Lifelines” with the LA Forum 69 show as a fourth CD (see following 90s page).
> It must be stressed that some of the rare tracks here are in mono and are spoilt by some voice-overs.
>*Not the Brecker Brothers as the sleeve claimed but an unknown brass section. An alternate mix later became the title track for a 90s studio compilation CD and the same thing happened with “Valleys Of Neptune” which was cross mixed with another demo as the showpiece for a 2010 Sony CD.
Just about all of these rare tracks turned up on future releases with the exception of:
Like A Rolling Stone
One Rainy Wish (alternate mix)
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – take 4
Come On (Part 1) (alternate)
Room Full Of Mirrors (alternate)
Valleys Of Neptune (in this raw form)
South Saturn Delta (this mix)
Very old fashioned graphic approach here but a nice photo of Jimi’s shadow across his Marshall stacks (used later on the “Searching For Hendrix” tribute album) – 4/10
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