Make The Music Worthwhile

I was brought up to believe that Jimi Hendrix was a God, set down upon this earth to lead us all to a better life by dint of his astonishing fashion sense and the fact he was the best guitar player ever.  Hell, there are far less believable myths being peddled out there.  I don’t worship at the altar of Hendrix as much as some, in fact his first two LPs don’t give me more than than occasional kicks, although I used to listen to Electric Ladyland over and over again on cassette, in the dark when I was about 15 with the volume cranked up really high so I could try to make out what they were saying in all the studio chatter.  However, this is my favourite Hendrix at the moment.

The one in question being The Jimi Hendrix Experience Radio One compilation, which I picked up in 2007 although I knew the LP long before that because my dad had a copy.  For a compilation of radio sessions it’s a remarkably cohesive album, probably because all three sessions stem from 1967.  There’s a smattering of the early Hendrix classics here along with some real curios and other stuff clearly done just for fun off the cuff, all produced and recorded really well by the BBC in-house producers.  I think it covers all the bases.

Hendrix Radio One 01

You want fun stuff? the ‘Radio One Theme’ is Hendrix’ impromptu radio jingle, over a killer chugging riff and some minor fret board pyrotechnics he drawls,

Just turn that dial
Make the music worthwhile
Radio one, you stole my gal
But I love ya just the same

On a similar tip we have an urgent, charging take on ‘Day Tripper’ with a hint in the liner notes that Lennon crops up on backing vocals, although I’ve no idea whether that’s true or not.  Later on we have a pants, but in a fun way, version of ‘Hound Dog’ with all manner of barking and miaowing going on in the background.

You want blues? Radio One can offer you an entrée of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’ played at breakneck speed, a main course of Muddy Waters’ ‘Catfish Blues’ which is just everything you could possibly want from a brooding, atmospheric blues*, an expansive ‘Hear My Train a Comin” (I’d like to throw a little blues on you now…) which has a truly mind-bending solo halfway through and finally a comparatively restrained ‘Hoochie Koochie Man’ featuring Brit blues legend Alexis Korner.  So we’ve got blues pretty much covered here.

Hendrix Radio One 02

You want some Hendrix classics? the version of ‘Stone Free’ here has a seriously, seriously funked up rhythm accompaniment here and I prefer it to the original, ‘Fire’ just rattles past strafing notes seemingly indiscriminately, ‘Purple Haze’ is pretty similar to the LP version and ‘Foxy Lady’ sounds a bit rushed, neutering the usual tom cat strutting a little.  What really, really pays off here though is the version of ‘Hey Joe’, which I far prefer to the original.  The vocals on this version are much less laid back, stronger and more assertive, oh and he plays guitar quite well too.

You want some obscurities? well we can cater for you freakoids here too, ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ from Axis: Bold As Love (never played live according to the liner notes) struts its flashy R&B thing**, ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ shorn of all the later studio trickery showcases Hendrix’ ability to play rhythm and lead simultaneously in a manner which would require a normal mortal to have three hands to do.  Best of all though is ‘Drivin’ South’ which is quite simply a dazzling, revved up instrumental and possibly the closest Hendrix got to hard rock – now I’m a bit rubbish on the old technicalities front, but never mind the speed he plays at here, the tone he gets is just incredible.  To steal from the liner notes, this track is worth the price of admission alone.  If you crave a shot of real manly guitar heroics, then this is your baby right here.

Lego just don't do suitable Hendrix hair; shame on them.
Lego just don’t do suitable Hendrix hair; shame on them.

A word about the comparatively unsung dudes in the background too, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, shorn of the special effects and 60s production techniques the tracks on Radio One really do showcase them as versatile, sensitive accompanists.  There’s a few moments in particular where Mitchell’s jazz background shines through.

To quote the man himself, stoned immaculate (to steal a phrase),

Radio One, You’re the one for me.

267 Down.

*and only a nano-smidgeon away from Electric Ladyland‘s ‘Voodoo Chile’.

**R&B as in Rhythm & Blues, not as in its modern connotation where it stands for, Mostly Bland Shite.

Nothing to look at, but the best audio quality I could find on YT. Oh and this one because I love it:

14 thoughts on “Make The Music Worthwhile

      1. Don’t get CB going on that jag. I forgot about Hendrix in that one also. I guess I’ll be watching it AGAIN! I had a buddy turn me onto it in the day. He loved all that stuff coming out of your homeland. Personal Services, No Surrender..I guess I’ll be watching them too.

      2. While we’re on off beat flicks. I watched two really good ones over the holidays. ‘Swiss Army Man and ‘The 100 Year old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’. No Jimi but some cool music in ‘Army Man’. CB is still stuck doing movies from the 70’s so it will be a while before he writes these ones up.

  1. “The Jimi Hendrix Experience sounding off again now…..”

    Great post! I love this album, thanks for giving me an excuse to cue it up. Being a Yank, I’ve always gotten a kick out of the “Britishness” of it from the above-quoted announcer as Jimi begins playing Fire, to the Radio One Theme you mention, to the snippets of — from my viewpoint — accented banter from Noel and Mitch in some songs. It was all very exotic when I first heard it and finally made real to me all I’d previously read about Hendrix first being recognized as a Deity in England. (Note: You were brought up right!)

    If you haven’t yet heard and/or possessed the Nine to the Universe collection of Hendrix studio instrumental jams, you need to seek it out. While not always cohesive as songs, much of the playing/tone reminds one of our baby Drivin’ South, at least to these New World ears anyway.

    1. Thank you, I guess that makes me exotically British by association! (I still want to be Les though!)

      I’ll definitely give the instrumentals one a go, I’m always a bit wary of posthumous LPs though for quality control reasons.

      I swear I must have played Drivin South 8 times straight last night – it’s good to get the old air guitar out occasionally!

  2. From your description, this is a lot like the menu for the Jimi Hendrix cafeteria, a little of this, a little of that. Good or bad, I love hearing Hendrix’s distinctive way of attacking the guitar.

    I vote for your modern R&B definition. I swear it is just a series of boring vocal histrionics over a remixed version of the same instrumental track.

  3. I used to have this on cassette! I love Electric Ladyland but Axis is probably my favourite Hendrix overall. Weird that all these amazing radio sessions in the UK started because of needle-time laws restricting the amount recorded music could be played on air.

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