Friday, November 6, 2015

Jimi Hendrix - 1967 [1988] "Radio One"

Radio One is a posthumous live album by English-American rock band The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in November 1988 by Rykodisc. It compiles tracks recorded between February and December 1967 for broadcasts by BBC Radio.[1] The album peaked at number 30 on the UK Albums Chart, while in the United States, it charted at number 119 on the Billboard 200. After Hendrix's family gained control of his legacy, Radio One was supplanted by the more comprehensive BBC Sessions in 1998.

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau said Radio One is as good an introduction to Hendrix's music as his 1967 debut record Are You Experienced because while non-fanatics do not have to listen to different versions of the same songs, "Hendrix's versions do bear scrutiny like no other rock and roll." He was also impressed by the previously unreleased covers of "Hound Dog" and Curtis Knight's "Drivin' South", calling them first-rate. John Milward from the Chicago Tribune called it "one of the season's best new rock records", writing that it "supplements the first public stage of Hendrix`s tragically brief evolution; the hard rock that forged his background in the blues and rhythm and blues into a sturdy platform for his instrumental pyrotechnics". Rolling Stone magazine's David Fricke was even more enthusiastic, deeming it an all-important Hendrix album that documents his artistry as it developed in its earliest stages, with recordings showcasing his blues roots, lyrical ballads, and frenzied guitar playing. He believed it covers a period of "accelerated evolution" for Hendrix in 1967, from his debut album earlier that year to his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and his second record Axis: Bold as Love later that year:

This is the sound of Hendrix reinventing rock & roll, almost day by day, in his own image. It is also the sound of Hendrix coping with the pressure and pain that were part of his reward. There's no other experience on record like it.

Seventeen songs from 1967 BBC broadcasts, when the Jimi Hendrix Experience had yet to burn out from the wheel of constant touring, management hassles, and internal strife. They're in good, enthusiastic form as they run through early gems like "Hey Joe," "Foxy Lady," "Fire," and "Stone Free," the lack of studio polish giving these versions a loose feel. The Experience studio albums are still considerably superior to this set, but it's certainly worth acquiring by any serious Hendrix fan, not least because it has several covers that didn't make it on to the three proper Experience LPs. Several of these ("Hoochie Koochie Man," "Killing Floor," "Catfish Blues") reveal his sometimes overlooked affinity for Chicago-style electric blues; there are also a couple of surprises ("Hound Dog" and "Day Tripper"). With good sound, it's a solid addition to the Hendrix library, demonstrating his versatility in various rock, soul, and blues styles. 

If you don't have at least one Jimi Hendrix album in your CD collection, you really need to rethink your musical priorities. I don't think I need to explain the revolutionary legacy of Hendrix to anyone, so I'll just get right to the content on this particular CD. The year was 1967, and Hendrix's career had just blasted off in the UK, when The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Hendrix, Noel Redding, and Mitch Mitchell) came together for several recording sessions for BBC Radio. You will find a number of Hendrix's most memorable songs in this collection, but they differ from the versions most fans are familiar with. Alongside these more familiar tracks are a number of very interesting covers and blues-oriented recordings, a few of which could and should be considered true rarities.

Appropriately enough, this collection starts out with an anthem song, Stone Free. With the funk established, it's time to jam. Hendrix standards emerging from these early recordings are Fire, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze, and Hey Joe. Hendrix pulls out all of the heavy guitar stops on the short but enervating Killing Floor. This killer track is then followed by what is still, as far as I am aware, the only live version of the classic Love or Confusion. Hendrix's mastery of the guitar is made most evident in a scintillating performance of Drivin' South. I find the background vocals on Wait Until Tomorrow somewhat questionable, but this track is a real treat indeed, as this was a song Hendrix never performed on stage. You get a somewhat light version of Hear My Train a Comin', infused with a lot of interaction with the small studio audience. Spanish Castle Magic is pretty faithful to the later studio version, but this is probably the earliest recording made of this standout song. Yet another significant recording is Burning of the Midnight Lamp, a much different version from that which appeared on the Electric Ladyland album of the following year.

Radio One Theme is a playful bit of filler, really, a half-joking new theme song for Britain's insurgent Radio One rock station. Hendrix's cover of the Beatles' Day Tripper takes the song to heights never imagined by the team of Lennon and McCartney. The novelty of this cover still pales in comparison to that of Hound Dog, which comes complete with all sorts of barks and howls from band members.

For me, the best this album has to offer are the blues-oriented recordings, in which Hendrix pays tribute to some of the strongest influences of his youth - the legendary Muddy Waters, in particular. Catfish Blues is great, but Hoochie Koochie Man is easily my favorite song on this album.

All told, these 17 early recordings showcase the variety of musical styles that Jimi Hendrix made his own, and the entire album has a fresh and jubilant feel that differs from the heavier sound of Hendrix's later career. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Radio One as someone's first introduction to Jimi Hendrix, but Hendrix fans will definitely love every one of the 59 - plus minutes of this album.

The sound quality on these recordings is really superb. I own the BBC Sessions collection, remastered and released on Experience Hendrix which does not have as good a sound as this Ryko release. The Rykodisc release does not contain any of the tape hiss which is present on the Experience Hendrix material. I am at a complete loss as to how this can be. So much for the advances in mastering and sound technology over the years. If you come across a copy of this disc, now long out of print, grab it as it runs rings around any other available sources of the same material.

Track listing

No.     Title     Writer(s)     Length
1.     "Stone Free"       Jimi Hendrix     3:23
2.     "Radio One"       Hendrix     1:27
3.     "Day Tripper" (The Beatles cover)     Lennon–McCartney     3:18
4.     "Killing Floor"       Chester Arthur Burnett     2:27
5.     "Love or Confusion"       Hendrix     2:52
6.     "Drivin' South"       Hendrix     4:49
7.     "Catfish Blues"       Robert Petway     5:28
8.     "Wait Until Tomorrow"       Hendrix     2:55
9.     "Hear My Train a Comin'"       Hendrix     4:52
10.     "Hound Dog" (Big Mama Thornton, Elvis Presley cover)     Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller     2:44
11.     "Fire"       Hendrix     2:39
12.     "Hoochie Coochie Man"       Willie Dixon     5:30
13.     "Purple Haze"       Hendrix     3:02
14.     "Spanish Castle Magic"       Hendrix     3:06
15.     "Hey Joe"       Billy Roberts     4:01
16.     "Foxy Lady"       Hendrix     2:57
17.     "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"       Hendrix     3:42
Total length:


    Jimi Hendrix – guitar, lead vocals
    Noel Redding – bass, backing vocals on track 3
    Mitch Mitchell – drums, backing vocals
    Jimmy Leverton – backing vocals on track 11
    Trevor Burton – backing vocals on track 11

Recording details

    Tracks 1, 5, 15 and 16 recorded at the BBC Broadcasting House in London, England on February 13, 1967
    Tracks 2, 3, 8, 9 and 14 recorded at the BBC Playhouse Theatre in London, England on December 15, 1967
    Tracks 4, 11 and 13 recorded at the BBC Broadcasting House on March 28, 1967
    Tracks 6, 7, 10 and 17 recorded at the BBC Playhouse Theatre on October 6, 1967
    Track 12 recorded at the BBC Playhouse Theatre on October 17, 1967 



  2. Chiquilicuatre y ZappaNovember 7, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    many thanks

  3. Haven't heard this in a long time. Thank you.