Friday, July 25, 2014

Jimi Hendrix 19: West Coast Seattle Boy

Collectors were still acquainting themselves with whatever bounty they could take from Valleys Of Neptune when, hold and below, another four-CD Jimi box appeared. Rather than repeat the 2000 box, which had been part of the previous MCA deal, West Coast Seattle Boy prefaced three discs of unreleased music with a disc devoted to the session work he’d done before the Experience, for the likes of the Isley Brothers, King Curtis and Little Richard. This stuff had been clogging up gray-area records and tapes since Jimi was alive, and while there are some who will welcome these things in best-ever quality, the real story doesn’t begin until disc two, after he’d hooked up with those two English guys and truly became the Jimi Hendrix of legend. (Perhaps to make up for it, the set included a DVD, and was also available in a single-disc distillation, which was the style at the time.)
So, just like the 2000 box, we travel chronologically through studio alternates and a handful of live tracks, some of which were on since-deleted box sets, others further songs from the Berkeley concert and Band of Gypsys shows. Pay close enough attention and you’ll hear some pretty interesting things.
Many of the outtakes and rarities are instrumental, allowing us to focus on his playing. The best include “Little One” from the Electric Ladyland era, featuring some Indian drones likely contributed by Dave Mason. “Cat Talking To Me” is also pretty decent, particularly without the Mitch Mitchell vocal heard previously. “New Rising Sun” is a longer mix of the dreamy piece that opened Voodoo Soup. “Calling All Devil’s Children” follows a terrific riff unfortunately mixed down to allow a “political rally” to take over the track. “Young/Hendrix” is a 21-minute jam previously excerpted on Nine To The Universe, notable for a five-second riff that Lenny Kravitz stole for “Are You Gonna Go My Way”. Then there’s “Messenger”, a jam on chromatic riffs with Jimi’s overdubbed piano on top. And “Peter Gunn/Catastrophe” is rescued from oblivion, or more accurately, War Heroes.
Of course, there are some actual songs here. “Mr. Bad Luck” purports to be the original mix of the track that sported 1987 overdubs on Valleys Of Neptune; the later version that now opens South Saturn Delta as “Look Over Yonder” is still the one to have. A handful of home recordings preview songs destined for Electric Ladyland and Cry Of Love, including a solo “My Friend”, plus “Tears Of Rage”, not yet widely known outside the Dylan circle. “The Everlasting First” is one of his final guest sessions, with Arthur Lee’s second incarnation of Love. The last piece on the disc is the acoustic “Suddenly November Morning”, from a longer suite of unfinished ideas.
While good, West Coast Seattle Boy was another missed opportunity. Considering all the distinct eras and bands of Jimi’s short career, the grab-bag approach ultimately gives short shrift to the story, distorting it, and making his official catalog even harder to navigate. And the Estate wasn’t done yet.

Jimi Hendrix West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology (2010)—3


  1. I thought the term was "lo and behold" instead of "hold and below"

  2. It is. Just my attempt at humor.