Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jimi Hendrix 8: War Heroes

Jimi was barely in the ground two years before management put together another scrape through the vaults—the fourth posthumous release in the US alone. War Heroes (whatever that means; another title we can’t figure out) was an odd combination of instrumental jams, alternate versions of a single nobody could find, and an old B-side, not really arranged in any order.
Did somebody say “more cowbell”? Well, “Bleeding Heart” is a funkified arrangement of an Elmore James tune, sitting uncomfortably in style and production next to “Highway Chile”, a B-side from 1967. The Experience would occasionally perform “Tax Free”, a jazzy Swedish instrumental, in concert; with a guitar sounding like a Hammond B-3, it hints at yet another direction he might have followed. “Peter Gunn/Catastrophe” is a stumble of a joke jam in between recording actual takes of something else, or maybe he was out of ideas that day. Whatever the story, it’s doubtful he would have released this himself. “Stepping Stone” was tried several times toward the end, and this version is pretty close to excellent, but it needs more adjustment.
“Midnight” is a fairly loud groove by the Experience that’s either loved or hated. (We like it ourselves.) But it’s followed by the purely novelty “3 Little Bears”, which even Jimi sounds embarrassed playing, even begging the engineer to stop him. “Beginnings” is a jazzy stop-time experiment, credited to Mitch Mitchell on the original album, but since revealed to be a variation on “Jam Back At The House”, first played as far back as Woodstock. “Izabella” is another funk song with potential, but it’s just not making it here.
There are enough moments on War Heroes to make it interesting, but then you’ve only got about a side’s worth of material, which begs the assumption that the best leftovers had already come out on Cry Of Love or Rainbow Bridge. That didn’t keep the European labels from compiling the pointedly titled Loose Ends, an album so negligible it hasn’t been completely cannibalized in this century. As for the album at hand, its contents are spread across three CDs, plus a box set and a CD single with two mixes of the same instrumental Christmas medley.

Jimi Hendrix War Heroes (1972)—3
Current CD availability: none

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