BLACK GOLD

Here is some updated information about Jimi's "Black Gold" project.
Many thanks to fellow fan Mac again for this - source is JImpress magazine.

Eric Burdon's recollections: "I remember Jimi telling me about his idea for Black Gold... an autobiographical, multi-song fantasy piece he had been working on. Jimi intended it to accompany an animated feature about a black rock star - himself on the road... forty minutes of fresh new material that clearly demonstrated the direction Jimi was headed in. He talked excitedly about the cartoon character he'd envisoned for it. I know he did at least some work on the suite before he died."
(Straight Ahead fanzine)

Rumours circulated for years after Hendrix' death about a tape called "The Black Gold Suite" which Jimi had mentioned in interviews. "Black Gold" was described as a "cartoon character" and the tape represented the rough draft of an album, but whether Jimi intended completing the project in this form is unknown as the tape was lost for many years, presumed stolen with other possessions from Jimi's apartment after his death. This was not the case, however. While filming for the film "Rainbow Bridge" in Maui, Hawaii in July 1970, Jimi gave drummer Mitch Mitchell six cassettes wrapped inside a bandanna for safe keeping, the Black Gold Suite was one of them.

Apparently unaware of the significance of the tapes, Mitch looked after the cassettes for two decades before entering into negotiations with Alan Douglas with a view to releasing the material. Though Douglas referred to these recordings in interviews, he never appeared to have any intention of making them available. (although in interviews, he was very enthusiastic about the contents). Different versions of at least five of the numbers have been released, mostly after his death.

Kept in a black Ampex tape box with "BG*" written in Jimi's hand. The tracks were recorded on a two track Entronic C90, stereo cassette at Jimi's New York apartment sometime between February and April 1970 and features him playing solo on acoustic guitar. The cassette label is annotated in Jimi's hand "Idea for L.P. Side 1 suite.. Black Gold" and, apparently, the cassette appears well used. The tracks it contains are as follows:

(A)
Suddenly November Morning
Drifting     
Captain Midnite (Captain 1201)
Loco Commotion
Here Comes Black Gold
Stepping Stone
Little Red Velvet Room

(B)
The Jungle Is Waiting
Send My Love To Joan Of Arc
God Bless The Day
Black Gold
Machine Gun
Here Comes Black Gold
Trash Man
Astro Man (Part 1)
Astro Man (Part 2)
I've Got A Place To Go

It's known that Jimi worked on tracks such as the opener "Suddenly November Morning" in March 1970 at the Londonderry Hotel in London, as hand-written lyrics exist, giving us a guide to when the recording was made. Jimi apparently played the tracks as a continuous medley with one running into the next. He had referred to "Black Gold" in interviews, "I wanted to get into sort o', what you would probably call, just pieces, yeah pieces behind each other like movements or whatever you call it. I've been writing some of those, but like I was into writing cartoons mostly, you know, Cartoons, music cartoons." This explains the birth of such characters as Astro Man and Captain Midnite. Tracks with familiar titles, such as "Drifting", "Stepping Stone" and "Astro Man", stick close to the released versions of the songs while "Send My Love To Joan Of Arc" has the same chord sequence as the familiar "Send My Love To Linda". Allegedly, "Little Red Velvet Room" refers to a child, Tami, whose mother, Diane Carpenter, claimed was Jimi's from a relationship in mid-1966, unfortunately this song comes to a premature end as the tape runs out.

Side two opens with the jazzy flamenco piece "The Jungle Is Waiting" with Jimi providing the jungle sound effects throughout. Another known song is "Machine Gun" which has Jimi concluding with the line "Thank Hell for Heaven, thank Heaven for Hell." The reprise of "Black Gold" features the lyric "He comes from the land of the Gypsy Sun" which seems to combine Jimi's common themes from "Hey Gypsy Boy" and "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)", though it is unclear whether the music bears any resemblance to these two songs. Next comes "Trash Man" a very short song with lyrics, it bears no resemblance to the instrumental "Trashman" on "Crash Landing". "Astro Man" is in two parts with Jimi depicting himself as the hero, saving a girl on an LSD trip from falling to her death in the second part. In the final track Jimi holds an imaginary telephone conversation with someone called Rosie who invites him over and "I've Got A Place To Go" closes the tape.

While many think of the recordings with reverence, as some sort of long lost masterpiece, the truth is that these are no more than rough sketches in Jimi's ever changing musical development.

Here's another interesting article about "Black Gold"

 


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