Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Jimi Hendrix with Curtis Knight


This record was released at the end of 1967, for crassly commercial reasons. I just read the Rolling Stone review from the time, and it was amusingly indignant. In hindsight, it's a historically interesting listen, with at least one stunning track. And it's part of the chain of events that led to the Band of Gypsies album.

Here's the deal. One of the bands in which Hendrix served his apprenticeship in the early and mid 1960s was Curtis Knight and the Squires. In 1965 they recorded some tracks for producer Ed Chaplin; some of them were released as singles at the time. Chaplin signed the entire band to exclusive contracts, an action which would cause Hendrix much grief once he became a star.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience first visited the U.S. in 1967; this tour included the band's star-making appearance at Monterey Pop Festival. During that visit, Jimi showed up in a New York studio to jam with his old boss Curtis Knight. At least two tracks were recorded, including "Get That Feeling," on which Hendrix can be heard playing his new eight-string Hagstrom bass. Hendrix insisted that if the recordings were issued, his name could not be used. Yeah, right. Chaplin soon sold these new tracks, along with some of the 1965 recordings, to Capitol Records, who splashed Hendrix's name across the cover, above Knight's.

 As Hendrix took the rock world by storm, Chaplin brought legal action against him and Warner Brothers Records for breach of contract. The two sides finally settled, agreeing that Hendrix would deliver an album of original material to Chaplin, and that it would not be by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And that's why we have the amazing Band of Gypsies album, which came out on Capitol.

But back to this album. Most of the tracks are silly or derivative. But "Get That Feeling" is something else. The probably-improvised lyrics are nothing much, but musically this ten-minute jam is as driving as James Brown's band at its peak and as hypnotic as Fela. Hendrix's guitar-like lead bass is positively menacing, providing the spark which gives the track its extra dimension.

Chaplin's legal battles have continued, more recently with the Experience Hendrix organization, the Hendrix estate group which now controls his recorded legacy. That's probably why I couldn't find "Get That Feeling" online. But here it is from my copy - because you need to hear it.

Get That Feeling

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