Sunday 2 December 2018

Jimi Hendrix - Straight Ahead

Self made compilation

Disc 1: Hendrix Approved Mixes

01 Ezy Ryder
02 Freedom
03 Message To Love
04 Drifter's Escape
05 Come Down Hard On Me
06 Earth Blues
07 Dolly Dagger
08 Night Bird Flying
09 Straight Ahead
10 Astro Man
11 Room Full of Mirrors
12 In From The Storm
13 Belly Button Window

Disc 2: Posthumous Masters

01 Bleeding Heart
02 Izabella
03 Valleys Of Neptune
04 Stepping Stone
05 Drifting
06 Pali Gap
07 Beginning
08 Angel
09 Power of Soul
10 Cherokee Mist
11 Hey Baby

Jimi Hendrix may not seem entirely suitable for this blog, but there is a reason behind this post.

I fell in love with the music of Hendrix in my early teens. While at school, I collected the three Jimi Hendrix Experience albums as well as the live Band of Gypsys LP. 

I read a couple of biographies and was fascinated to learn Hendrix had an astonishing amount of unreleased material. Shortly after, during a stop at a service station on a school trip in 1993, I bought my first Hendrix bootleg. It was also the first bootleg of any artist I owned. I suppose that purchase would lead to me constructing this blog and my love of rare, secret, unreleased and hard to find music also began there.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in April 1969. From then until Hendrix's death in September 1970 he recorded material for what would of been his fourth studio album.

Hours and hours of songs in various stages have been on posthumous albums over the years, most notably on 'The Cry Of Love', 'Rainbow Bridge' and 'War Heroes'. Those three albums were compiled and mixed by engineer Eddie Kramer and long time drummer Mitch Mitchell and released shortly after Hendrix's death.

Since then, more tracks have came to light, including several mixes by Hendrix himself, making some of the versions finished masters. These songs were spread across many releases, some easier to find than others and details could be sketchy.

Hendrix was tantalisingly close to completing his vision. Although no definitive tracklisting or album title exists, the finished album would certainly have been a double, if not a triple (as some handwritten notes suggest). Prospective album titles included 'The First Rays Of The New Rising Sun', 'People, Hell & Angels' and 'Strate Ahead'.

This compilation is an attempt to collect together both the songs that Hendrix had signed off as final mixes, as well as the other songs that were under consideration. These songs are complete for the most part, with only the final mix being done without Hendrix's supervision. Some did require further overdubs, but I have not included songs for which only a backing track or demo version exist.

This music is truly psychedelic; blues, soul, pop, funk, psychedelia, heavy, beautiful, experimental and completely unique.

Robbie Basho - Best Of Basho Vol. 1

Basho Productions 1982

01 Tassajara Zen Shinji
02 Lost Lagoon Suite
03 Kowaka D'amour
04 Variations on Shakespeare Wallah
05 Song For the Queen
06 California Raga

The final post of the year is also the final Basho re-issue from Grass-Tops recordings.

This 're-issue' didn't have a new physical release or even become available through the label's Soundcloud. It was posted on Kyle's Facebook page. Thank you Kyle.

Released in 1982, Robbie sold these cassettes from his car while on tour and via mail order. It's interesting to see what Basho considered his 'best'. This release contains more of the raga inspired, exploratory playing of earlier releases.

Mystery Spring - Meet Me At The Weather Station

Treehouse Orchestra Recordings 2018

01 Meet me at the Weather Station
02 Relative Comfort
03 Cinematographer
04 Bedsit Disco Queen
05 The Reformist
06 Mind the Chaos

Newest and final release of 2018 from Treehouse Orchestra Recordings.

Mystery Spring is Marc (Brocken Spectre, Nightowl Sings) and Catherine (Shipcote and Friends). Their second release sees late night dark folk with psychedelic electronic croon.

Here's a review by David Thompson from our blog Treehouse Orchestra Recordings.

"Following on from last summer’s splendid debut album from Mystery Spring, Marc and Catherine present a 6-track EP that’s a total delight from start to finish and that, at a shorter length, perhaps holds together in a more satisfying and organic way than its predecessor.

Maybe it’s just the time of the year, but a couple of tracks here feel quite Christmassy to me, while the whole record radiates a warmth - like a mug of hot chocolate or a nip of the strong stuff - that is just right for the dark nights and the chill that’s beginning to take up residence in the air.

That’s not to give the impression of cosiness or to suggest that this isn’t a collection for all seasons. To the contrary, the songs here are all very strong and evocative and, at just shy of a 20 minute running time, it’s a record that’s just right for a listen at one sitting all year round.

The title track and opener gets the EP off to a low-key beginning. It’s an intimate and atmospheric number, with a whispered lead vocal from Marc, suggesting secrets being shared and giving the whole track a feeling of gentle mystery.

“Relative Comfort” is folky pop with Catherine’s lovely voice up front. It’s an infectious sing-along number, like something that might have popped up on Cherry Red Records in the mid-80s, but essentially it’s a classic Marc love song about a couple who are head over heels and out in the open air – perhaps hiding from everyone who can’t understand how they feel and might just get in the way (or break the spell).

“Cinematographer” is evocative of early ‘80s post-punk from its very title to the woozy Farsifa feel and cryptic lyrics while “Bedsit Disco Queen” is a lovely piano-led ballad with more than a touch of “Another Green World” Eno. The latter was recorded in one take and has a title borrowed from the memoir by Tracey Thorn (another Cherry Red artiste - the clues are building up, but maybe they’ll lead us nowhere in the end).

“You’re no reformist and I doubt I can be reformed”. And so “The Reformist” spins another esoteric yarn amid a reflective countryish piece with keening violins and crisp acoustic guitar, courtesy of Ste Benson (who also does the honours on “Relative Comfort” and is the only performer on the record other than Marc and Catherine).

Closing track “Mind the Chaos” is, despite the title, not really chaotic at all, but rather gently off-kilter and subtly disconcerting, while never being less than  perky and charming. It has an almost classical feel to the instrumentation (with a touch of the fairground) and the spirit of Jeffrey Lewis (and also perhaps Syd Barrett) lurking somewhere in the background. It is a song that sounds as if it’s being made up as it goes along, looking for either resolution or blissful oblivion, while not forgetting to ask important questions such as “where can I get free shoes” and “which colour will you choose”?

“Meet Me At The Weather Station” is a delightful concoction – a beguiling blend of voices, acoustic instruments and understated electronica (superbly mixed by Mr A Popple) -  that never outstays its welcome.  In fact, I would very surprised if you didn’t want to play it again as soon as it finishes – I’ve listened to it at least 5 times while I’ve been writing this review and I’m still ready for more. After all, doesn’t everyone need free shoes?"

Extremely limited compact disc and free download available from our Bandcamp.