The 1967 Curtis Knight reunion sessions
March 2015: Experience Hendrix release "You Can't Use My Name", featuring mainly the early recordings by Curtis Knight And The Squires
plus one song from these 1967 reunion sessions. See the Before Fame section for full details of the 1965-1966 recordings.
This subject merits attention and I spend time on it to sort out all the terrible confusion that it has created over the decades. Producer Ed Chalpin created such a puzzle that even after all this time, many Hendrix fans still mistake these reunion session jams for pre-Experience recordings!
It must be said right away that the music here is sub-standard and bears no relation to the main body of Jimi's work.
As detailed in the Before Fame section, during his pre-Experience days in and around New York, Hendrix recorded a number of songs with Curtis Knight & The Squires. Jimi moonlighted from Knght's band around the summer of 1966 to form his own group, Jimmy James & The Blue Flames (a.k.a. The Rainflowers) but would occasionally still play club gigs with Knight (he was in fact discovered by Linda Keith at the Cheetah Club while he was playing with either Knight's band or with Carl Holmes & The Commanders). Then Linda eventually got Chas Chandler interested. Chas took Jimi to London and made him an international senasation.
A year later, in the summer of 1967 and just after Monterey, when America was discovering The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi got back in touch with his old friend Curtis Knight and with a few other musicians they ended up jamming and Jimi also helped touch up some older recordings that they had done together).
Incredibly, at that time, Jimi was in fact still under contract with PPX Enterprises as a session player (Chas Chandler was unaware of this when he had signed him up with Yameta and Track Records). Even more incredible was the fact that Ed Chalpin had already filed a lawsuit against Yameta (the publishing company who thought that they owned exclusive rights to Jimi's music). Out of guilt we presume, Jimi felt that he owed his old workmates something and perhaps felt, rather naïvely, that the sessions might calm the legal conflict. Bootleg releases have revealed that at the beginning of one session, Jimi calls out to Chalpin "Don't use my name on this, OK ?". You can hear Chalpin simply reply "Don't worry about it". Jimi would soon have plenty to worry about and Chaplin came back to haunt him for the following three years.
Jimi, Curtis Knight and an unknown bassist, perhaps at the first Studio 76 session of July 1967. Jimi is playing an 8 string Hagstrom bass.
In the control booth are Dick ("turned down The Beatles") Rowe of Decca Records and Ed Chalpin of PPX Enterprises.
Jimi in fact attended two sessions at Studio 76 in New York. At the first he only played a 6-string bass through a fuzz box on three jams that were modified after the sessions by Chalpin, Knight and Capitol Records and given titles, tto become "Day Tripper/Future Trip/Flashing","Odd Ball", and "Get That Feeling". There is another bassist on the recordings and Jimi plays his 8 strings Hagstrom bass through a fuzz tone right up front and sometimes in a lead bass style.
Jimi also helped touch up a song he had written back in 1965/66 titled "I' Ain't Takin' Care Of No Business". Knight brought an old demo of the song to the studio and Jimi simply put some bass over it. It appeared on the various PPX compilations as "No Business". Interestingly, the previous May, Jimi had already recorded the song with The Experience as "Taking Care Of No Business" during the sessions for his second album, Axis:Bold as Love (the song finally appeared on the 2000 MCA box set).
Another photo from the same session showing Jimi this time with a Corvette guitar which is very similar to the Hagstrom bass.
At the second session, Jimi recorded a few takes of a driving R&B song titled "Gloomy Monday" which was possibly an old song from 1966 that they never got round to finishing. It's not much of a song but Jimi brings it alive with some terrific rhythm playing. He also added some warbling wah-wah to what seems to be a rough demo of a Knight penned song titled "Ballad Of Jimmy (My Best Friend)".
Jimi hadn't had his new wah-wah pedal for long in fact. It has been said that he had discovered Frank Zappa using the gadget first and soon adopted it himself. However Noel said in his book that it was he who had discovered a Vox Cry Baby in the London Vox shop and promptly encouraged Jimi to check it out. "Burning Of The Midnight Lamp" had been his first use of it and ultimately, the wah-wah pedal was destined to be forever associated with Hendrix.
Apart from those two numbers, Jimi also jammed loosely with those present, improvising through his new pedal. One jam (sounding a bit like the basic drive of "Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice") was used to create "Hush Now" /"Love Love"/"Love"/"Happy Birthday". Curiously, Jimi's opening guitar on what became "Hush Now" slightly resembles the intro guitar of "1983". Without Jimi's knowledge, Ed Chalpin later edited and looped the taped sections to construct "songs", exploiting the little he had to the full. Then Curtis Knight added some vocals over the top. Capitol Records found the results useless and they too did more work and overdubs on the tracks.
Even though Jimi had asked Chalpin not to use his name, PPX didn't waste time, putting Jimi's name in huge letters on the cover of the album "Get That Feeling" (released at the end of the year) with a superb photo of him performing at Monterey. Jimi's management team tried to stop the album but lost and were ordered hand over rights to a new Hendrix album (which eventually turned out to be "Band Of Gypsys" in 1970 ) as a payment for his breaching of contract. Chalpin however was expecting a Jimi Hendrix Experience album and he was soon filing another lawsuit. All of this greatly troubled Jimi.
According to www.earlyhendrix.com Jimi is credited as songwriter for Future Trip / Flashing, Get That Feeling, Happy Birthday, Hush Now, Love Love
SUMMARY OF THE 1967 SESSIONS:
SESSION 1 (17 July 1967)
Jimi plays only 6-string fuzz bass on:
- No Business
- loose rhythmic jam which was later overdubbed and titled Get That Feeling
- rhythmic doodling later overdubbed by Chalpin and titled Oddball
- one long ambling "jam" edited into three seperate tracks as Day Tripper, Future Trip and Flashing
SESSION 2 (8 August 1967)
Jimi plays guitar on:
- Gloomy Monday (several takes)
- Ballad Of Jimi (a.k.a.) My Best Friend (wah-wah overdubs by Jimi over a low-fi re-recording of Knight's)
+ some loose jamming which Chalpin and Knight later turned into two songs: Hush Now and Love Love (part of which became Happy Birthday!).
So basically, they had nuthin'. How to make records out of this paltry selection on recordings? Easy, pad albums out with some old 1965-66 recordings!
Curtis Knight/Hendrix albums released in Jimi's lifetime
GET THAT FEELING
Released December1967 (Capitol)
How Would You Feel, Simon Says, Get That Feeling, Hush Now, Welcome Home, Gotta Have a New Dress, No Business, Strange Things
Only three tracks here are from the summer 1967 sessions; Hush Now", "Get That Feeling" (Jimi on bass only) and "No Business" (bass only), the rest are old 1965 Curtis Knight & The Squires recordings. One can imagine the deception of record buyers at the time and all those who have been duped by this type thing right up to the present day. Even Jimi got a shock when he found this album in a record shop!
Overdubs by Capitol
In a January 1968 Rolling Stone interview, Capitol A&R man Nick Venet stated that these eight songs were the only PPX recordings that they felt were salvageable. He also stated that they "had to remix and re-record Chalpin's tapes" (meaning overdubbing of some backing). This reveals just how poor Ed Chalpins recordings of the Studio 76 really were.
A lousy album, but a superb cover. Great photo of Jimi in action at Monterey - 9/10
> EUROPEAN VERSION (London 1967)
Ballad Of Jimi, No Business, Future Trip, Gotta Have A New Dress, Hornet's Nest, Don't Accuse Me, Flashing, Hush Now, Knock Yourself Out, Happy Birthday
Strangely, the European version of the album featured a very different track listing and not even the title track. However it featured more tracks from the 1967 sessions.
The opening song, Ballad Of Jimi began as a demo in 1965-66 (so initially titled Ballad Of Jimmy!) and featured a lyric about the singer's best friend Jimmy, who had died five years earlier in a car crash, leaving his girlfriend in sorrow. The only guitar on that demo is acoustic but Jimi might have been on bass. That particular demo recording appeared in the early 70s on a French PPX Knight/Hendrix compilation titled Strange Things (see further down). During the August '67 session, some wah-wah guitar doodlings by Jimi were added to a very low-fi re-recording of the song, with the 1966 vocal flown in (versions of the song without the vocal also turned up on various PPX exploitation albums over the years as My Friend).
In late 1970, after Jimi's death, Chalpin and Knight decided to cash-in and came back to the song and recorded a new vocal with lyrics about the memory of Jimi and how he had predicted his own death five years earlier! Knight craftily tied this in with the release of his biography "Jimi" by inventing a story that these lyrics dated from the mid 60s after Jimmy James had told him that he would be dead in five years time! The new version of the song cropped up on many a Knight/Hendrix compilation over the years.
Mad collector's corner
Chalpin later recycled Ballad Of Jimi in 2017 when he handled the reissue of a 1971 Chubby Checker album titled Checkered. For the reissue, the album was re-titled Chubby Checker Goes Psychedelic and another version of Ballad Of Jimi was stuck on as a bonus track. This version has a different mix than the early 70s Knight version and has a spoken voice and vocal (by Chubby in 1970?) on top of Knight's.
Released October1968 (Capitol)
Gloomy Monday, Hornet's Nest (Hendrix/Simon), Fool For You Baby, Happy Birthday, Flashing, Day Tripper (Lennon/McCartney), Odd Ball, Love Love, Don't Accuse Me
Unperturbed by Jimi's management's attempts to stop them, Chalpin proceeded to issue a further collection of pre-Experience and Studio 76 recordings.
"Jimi Hendrix plays, Curtis Knight sings". At least this one was more honestly worded and the illustration low key, like Jimi's participation. - 5/10
Released 1968 (London)
Get That Feeling, Strange Things, Odd ball, Love Love, Simon Says, Gloomy Monday, Welcome Home
A UK collection of Curtis Knight material, using the same sleeve art as "Flashing".
And so it continued through the decades with continual jumbling up of studio and live tracks (Georges Club 1965/1966) to create "new albums" and fool the record buying public. More tracks were created along the way in the early 70s:
Love ("Love Love" without the vocal overdub)
Happy Birthday - part of the "Love" jam with a different vocal overdub
Level (instr.) - an alternate take from jam that had been used to create "Hush Now"
My Best Friend - "Ballad Of Jimi" without the vocal overdub
Jimi and Track lost their case against PPX Enterprises and were even obliged to release "How Would You Feel" in 1967 on Track Records!
(The song had been previously released in 1966 as a single on RSVP in the USA when Jimi was unknown)
Since the sixties, the PPX material has been over exploited on dozens of albums which churned out the same material again and again for the unwitting consumer, with titles like "The Great Jimi Hendrix In New York", "The Eternal Fire Of Jimi Hendrix", "Early Jimi Hendrix", "Birth Of Success" ... Here are just a few of relative interest:
"The Summer Of Love Sessions" (Freud/Jungle) nicely assembled the jumble of tracks constructed by Ed Chalpin from the tapes of Jimi's visits to Studio 76 in the summer of 1967 (July 17 & August 8).
The Freud/Jungle label must be commended for their clear and acurate approach to all the Curtis Knight material. "Knock Youself Out" (pre-Experience), "Drivin' South" (the so called Georges Club"live" recordings) and "Summer Of Love Sessions" (1967 reunion sessions).
As said above, in 2015, Exprience Hendrix and Sony Legacy released their own (and definitive) version of the 1965-66 recordings,very similar to the "Knock Yourself Out" CD here. The sound quality of the Sony album is a superior (Kramer mix - Grundman mastering).
Mad collector's corner II
Exclusive to this Music For Pleasure (France) compilation of PPX tracks includes the only release of a 1966 demo of Curtis Knight's "Ballad Of Jimmy" a.k.a. "My Best Friend" (listed as "Ballad Of Jimi" on this 1974 album). No Hendrix on the demo though (unless it's him on bass, which is doubtful).
"The Authentic PPX Recordings" A series of lousey, confusing CDs (but with superb sleeve art) of the Chalpin PPX studio and live material from 1965 to 1967 across six volumes, a box set and a "Best Of". Talk about flogging a dead horse! All the sources of Curtis Knight collaborations from 1965 to 1967 are stupidly mixed up to create even more confusion (a speciality of Ed Chalpin).
This CD features what is perhaps the best sound quality of Jimi's wah-wah playing on "My Best Friend" (which is "Ballad Of Jimi" without the vocal overdub).
A Japanese CD release featuring that nice photo from one of the 1967 sessions with Curtis Knight. This photo was used (rather innacurately) for the cover
of the 24 page booklet of the Sony Legacy album "You Can't Use My Name" which was 95% pre-Experience material.
Some jumbled releases of the PPX material even went as far as changing the names of songs to further mislead the unsuspecting buyer.
Alternate song titles used on the albums Second Time Around and Guitar Giants (three double albums):
Torture Me Honey = Level (which was simply another take of the jam that led to Hush Now)
Mercy Lady Day = Love, Love
Second Time Around = Get That Feeling
Got To Have It = Happy Birthday)
Sleepy Fate = No Business
Left Alone = Bleeding Heart*
Not This Time = Bleeding Heart (edit)*
I Should've Quit You = Killing Floor*
Fool About You = Fool For You Baby*
You Got Me Runnin' - Baby What You Want Me To Do
Mr Pitiful - California Night a.k.a. Travellin' To California
Hard Night - Come On (live at Georges Club - nothing to do with the Earl King song that Jimi covered on Electric Ladyland)
Running Slow = Baby What You Want Me To Do (guitar solo - different take from You Got Me Runnin')
My Fault = It's My Own Fault (from the Generation Club jam?)
I've Got A Sweet Lady = Sweet Little Angel
Guitar Giants Vol. 3 also contains a track which doesn't even feature Hendrix: My Heart is Higher
* Live, NY or NJ, late 1965/early 1966
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