The Trick Is To Keep Going

Tag: Jimi Hendrix

Best of 2011 and early 2012

by on Mar.27, 2012, under Music

Finally a list of favorite albums from 2011.  I’ve included the best albums of early 2012 as well. Here are the top albums from 2011:

The Black Keys El Camino1. El Camino, The Black Keys: No they haven’t lost their way. No, this isn’t a step back or a step to the side. This is infectious, rocking and raw, though not as raw as their early releases, tuneful and driving. They keep moving forward.

2. The Harrow & The Harvest, Gillian Welch and Let England Shake, P.J. Harvey: It’s a tie. Second choices each. Can’t separate them. Welch and her partner David Rowlings have produced an extraordinary duet album underpinned with roots guitar and banjo and enchanting vocals. The songs are spare country-folk pieces beautifully executed. As for Harvey, I’ve already mentioned this one in an early 2011 best-of list. It continues to grow on me if that’s possible. Highly thoughtful, enveloping musical statement featuring Harvey’s and her friends’ expert muscianship and musicality. There, I’ve used a form of music three times in that sentence.

4. I’m With You, The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Talk about an overlooked album. Oh, I’m sure it sold well. The only problem with this album is that it had to follow Stadium Arcadium, which was a career effort in creativity and popularity. Still, it’s more of the Peppers and the Peppers are quite something.

5. Hard Bargain, Emmylou Harris: This was my top choice for the early list. It’s dropped a few places, not because it isn’t worthy, because the later releases were just that good.

6. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator: Another early choice that stood up. Blues, soul, R&B mix with Tedeschi’s heartfelt, soulful vocals on top and Trucks’ dynamic, penetrating slide running through it all. (continue reading…)

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Concerts Vol. 13: Jimi Hendrix

by on Feb.21, 2011, under Music

By the fall of 1968, I had seen Cream four times, another of my favorite artists The Paul Butterfield Band five times, The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield, Traffic, The Stones, The Beach Boys, among a host of other artists, but I had yet to see Jimi Hendrix.

Jim Hendrix at Woolsey Hall, Yale, Nov. 1968. Photo by Joe Sela. Courtesy of Wolfgang's Vault.

Jim Hendrix at Woolsey Hall, Yale, Nov. 1968. Photo by Joe Sela. Courtesy of Wolfgang’s Vault.

Two members of the Bram Rigg Set, Peter Neri and Rich Bednarzyk along with the group’s road manager Mike Geremia had met Hendrix on the street in Greenwich Village in the summer of ’67. The three had ventured into the city after the first night of a weekend engagement in Brewster, N.Y. The group’s drummer, Beau Segal, and I had driven back home after the gig and our lead singer Bobby Schlosser had also opted for his long trek back to Rhode Island.

The boys had run into Hendrix at about 3 a.m. on Bleecker Street I believe opposite the Cafe Au Go Go and he was affable, friendly and wished them well.

Beau got to see The Jimi Hendrix Experience by accident that same year in the fall. He traveled into the city to the Cafe Au Go Go to see a show billed as Eric Burdon and The New Animals and found when he arrived that The Experience had replaced them on the bill. Nice surprise. And, of course, Beau raved about them.

Hendrix was still a bit of an unknown quantity at the time here in the States as opposed to the United Kingdom, where he was a sensation with a string of single releases and his first album.

Notwithstanding the bizarre ads in Billboard during the summer that showed the three Afro-adorned musicians on the inside cover of the industry magazine and the buzz in musicians’ circles, the album Are You Experienced? had just been released and there was no single from it running up the charts. It was probably getting the majority of its play on the new FM radio stations, particularly the college stations, which were just starting to play what became known as Album Rock programming.

When I had played the first track of the album for guys in my dorm at Boston University in Sept. 1967, before I transferred to Berklee School of Music, some of them thought there was something wrong with their record players. True. Those same guys would come to love Hendrix in a few months. (continue reading…)

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The Best of 2010

by on Jan.06, 2011, under Music

Here’s my Top 10 for the past year along with a few bonus selections and various related categories:

Elton John Leon Russell The Union1. The Union, Elton John & Leon Russell: A collaboration made in heaven and one wonders why it took so long for these two to get together. The record brings out their similarities, differences and a wonderful melding of their talents with some of their best songwriting in years. A truly inspirational collection.

2. Band Of Joy, Robert Plant: Another entry on the road of Americana from the transplanted Led Zeppelin lead man. Almost every bit as good as The Union with interesting and well-executed covers as only Plant has been able to deliver in recent years.

3. I’m New Here, Gil Scott-Heron: 28 minutes of bliss from the commander of narrative R&B. Scott-Heron is still here and as relevant as ever.

4. San Patricio, The Chieftains with Ry Cooder: A mythical adventure, cloaked in reality, that brings together Mexican, Celtic and American blues and country into one steaming pot of influences.

5. Tears, Lies & Alibis, Shelby Lynne: Stripped-down Shelby Lynne and she greatly benefits from the sparse arrangements putting the emphasis on her singing and songwriting.

6. Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom: It took a while to warm to this unusual songwriter with the reedy, young girl voice but this triple album is captivating and expressive.

7. The Stanley Clarke Band, Stanley Clarke: A bass hero for the ages re-engages with his jazz-rock roots on new and revisited material with a sympathetic and proficient group of musicians.

Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Cover8. Chamber Music Society, Esperanza Spalding: One of the most unusual and ultimately satisfying collection of songs from a performer/composer who continually surprises and delivers.

9. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (self-titled): Fourth outing from a group with all the signs of breaking out big-time and it appears they’re finally starting to catch on in a bigger way.

10 Naked Honest, Kala Farnham: Honest, heartfelt, poignant lyricism backed with prodigious keyboard chops and crystal clear vocal styling from this rising solo artist. (continue reading…)

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Jimi’s legacy lives on

by on Mar.18, 2010, under Music

Experience Hendrix, the group headed by Janie Hendrix, the adopted daughter of Jimi Hendrix’s father Al, oversees Hendrix’s body of work and recently struck a new agreement with Sony after years of working with MCA.

Jimi Hendrix Valleys Of NeptuneThe first joint venture from the two entities is Valleys Of Neptune, 12 previously unreleased tracks by Hendrix, most recorded in the spring of 1969 with The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s original members, Mitch Mitchell, drums, and Noel Redding, bass. Bassist Billy Cox is also featured on several tracks to good effect, wiping out one of Redding’s efforts, and various percussionists are employed.

But essentially this is the main group starting to work on its followup to the artistically and commercially successful double LP Electric Ladyland from 1968. It would be short-lived. The Experience broke up in June, which basically means Redding announced he was splitting. Although Hendrix had obviously greased the skids by finding and working with Cox almost exclusively after April. Mitchell continued to play with Hendrix until his death in 1970 and Cox, Mitchell and Hendrix played as The Experience in 1970.

Experience Hendrix, and for that matter also Alan Douglas who previously handled the Hendrix catalogue, has been roundly criticized for exploiting the Hendrix goldmine and doing anything but a bang-up job of remixing and remastering the material to the level that it deserves. However, some of those criticisms are overblown and most of the previously unissued material and/or reorganized tracks such as one can find on First Rays Of The New Rising Son and South Saturn Delta, are in the end worthy projects, albeit not without flaws, that have enhanced the Hendrix legacy.

It seems rather remarkable that the amount of material available is still not exhausted. Some would say let it rest, the quality is not up to Hendrix’s lofty standards. But Jimi virtually lived in the studio, his only oasis from the storm of his public/business life, and what he left is not only an indication of where he was going but also in fact where he had arrived and it was miles ahead of many of his comptemporaries. Jimi Hendrix was a true original and most of what continues to be released only reinforces that. (continue reading…)

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Woodstock revisited

by on Jun.19, 2009, under Music

If you haven’t noticed the Woodstock blitz is on. The 40th anniversary of the most famous rock festival in history is being celebrated with a number of new releases on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray.

woodstock-40thThe only question left is whether Michael Lang, who produced the original festival, will stage anniversary events in August. There were reports earlier this year about free concerts in upstate New York and Berlin, Germany, but nothing is confirmed.

The video of the festival has been re-released by Warner Brothers in at least three versions, a two-disc Special Edition, and a three-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition on DVD and Blu-Ray. It comes in a funky fringed box and features a 225-minute Director’s Cut and an additional three hours of bonus material and previously unreleased performances by artists such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, The Who, The Dead and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, among many others.

Despite all this, there are still performances that won’t be included, most notably The Band. But others such as Creedence and Mountain will be making their first appearance. Blu-Ray will set you back about $60, while DVD can be had for $42. You can find a list of the 18 bonus performances here. (continue reading…)

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Winwood, Clapton after all these years

by on Jun.03, 2009, under Music

From the opening double guitar lines of the Blind Faith classic Had To Cry Today, Steve Winwood’s and Eric Clapton’s performance on their recently released CD/DVD Live From Madison Square Garden is electrifying.

clapton-winwood-dvd2Not electrifying in a showy, glitzy, glamorous sense, but in a musical sense. The two giants whose careers started in the 1960s and have paralleled each other, intersecting once for an extended period in 1969, show they are still fully capable of producing inspring and creative performances on their own material and covers of some of their contemporaries.

It seems fitting that the duo begins their MSG show, which was recorded in February, 2008 over three nights, with the opening track from their only album together, Blind Faith.

It also shows off Winwood as an extraordinary and somewhat overlooked guitarist, who is Clapton’s perfect foil, particularly when they solo simultaneously at the end of the tune.

The track, always overshadowed by two others on that 1969 album, Cant’ Find My Way Home and Presence Of The Lord, also gets its due, as a riff-driven vehicle but with some very unconventional chord changes for a guitar-slinging number. (continue reading…)

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Wolfie, Wolfie!

by on Dec.22, 2008, under Favorite Sites, Music

wolfieOne of the best music sites I’ve bumped into this year has to be Wolfgang’s Vault. If you love live music and you haven’t checked it out, you should. Once you’ve registered on the site, you have access to an amazing array of concerts by major and lesser-known artists. It’s a tremendous resource, easy to use and best of all, it’s free.

The content consists of concerts never committed to CD, some coming from syndicated radio shows such as King Biscuit Flower Hour. It streams effortlessly to your computer, the sound is generally excellent and you can even buy some concerts for about $10 if you so choose, the going rate of an ITunes album. There is also a well-written description of what you’re hearing with insight into the particular concert and some background on the artist, along with a detailed personnel listing.

I recently clicked on a Karla Bonoff concert at the Bottom Line in New York, forgetting that I have a friend that played in her band for a while. When I read the synopsis, he was listed there in the band lineup. For the uninitiated, she wrote some of Linda Ronstadt’s biggest hits.

Artists range from The Doors to Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison to James Taylor, Dylan to Miles, Jean Luc-Ponty to Larry Coryell, Ronstadt to Emmylou Harris, the Stones and on and on. It’s ridiculous. And it’s really wonderful.

I would guess they are paying some licensing fees as it’s been around for a while and doesn’t appear to be in danger of being shut down. You receive an e-mail update sometimes daily on what is new. They appear to add about 25 concerts a week. Go there and listen to some good, and often rare, performances.

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