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‘Superstars In Concert’: Jimi, Cream, Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner & more in obscure classic


 
When the question of “What’s the best/great rockumentary of all?” is asked, the answers can range quite widely obviously, from something like Don’t Look Back or Let It Be to The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense (which both seem to make almost everyone’s lists) to something totally out of left field and life-affirming like Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King. I really loved the new Pulp: a Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets... and wouldn’t “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” be in the running for all-time best rockumentary? Of course it would be!

It’s an impossible question to answer, but sidestepping it somewhat, if I had to pick the best overall “time capsule” of the rock era to preserve for future generations, it would probably be Peter Clifton’s Superstars In Concert.  Also known as Rock City in a different edit, the film was directed and produced by Clifton (The Song Remains the Same, Popcorn, The London Rock and Roll Show) and is a hodge-podge compiling (mostly) his promotional short films and snippets of concert performances shot between 1964 and 1973 by the likes of Peter Whitehead (Wholly Communion, Charlie Is My Darling, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London), Michael Cooper (who shot Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising), Ernest Vincze (the cinematographer responsible for the 2005 Doctor Who reboot) and Ivan Strasburg (Treme).
 

 
Featured in the film are The Rolling Stones (several times), Eric Burdon and The Animals, a typically demure appearance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Otis Redding bringing the house down, Cream, Steve Winwood, Blind Faith, Cat Stevens (a stark Kubrickian promo film for his “Father and Son” single) , The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Donovan, Joe Cocker, a segment with The Ike and Tina Turner Revue that will bring a smile to your face, Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart and the Faces. Pete Townshend is seen getting in his digs at the Stones for promoting pot use, managing to make himself look like a blue-nosed twat in the process, while Mick and the boys are seen doing “Jumpin Jack Flash” in the (decidedly more evil) warpaint version of that promo film (there were two, this is the one that was NOT shown on The Ed Sullivan Show for obvious reasons) and in their promo film for “We Love You” which features Keef in a judge’s wig, Marianne Faithfull as a barrister and Mick nude wrapped up in a fur rug (a sly joke that if you don’t get, then google “Rolling Stones,” “Redlands,” drug bust, her name and “Hershey Bar.”)

Superstars In Concert came out in Japan on the laserdisc format and that’s how I first saw it, in the late 80s. Since then, other than the various clips showing up cut from the film on YouTube, it’s remained an obscurity. Apparently there was a Malaysian bootleg and then in 2003 a Brazilian magazine called DVD Total gave away the film for free with one of their issues. So far fewer than 200 people have viewed the video.

DO NOT miss what’s perhaps the most intense version of Pink Floyd’s “Careful with That Axe Eugene” ever captured on film. This entire film is absolutely amazing from start to finish, but it jumps off the scale during that part (Otis Redding is no slouch, either!) I highly recommend letting it load first before you hit play, otherwise it’s kind of flickery. If you wait a while, it doesn’t hang up and looks and sounds great.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
BASS IN YOUR FACE: Isolated bass parts of Sonic Youth, Rolling Stones, The Police, Rick James & more


 
Poor bass players. In the hierarchy of rockbandland, even the mercenary backup singers get more love. Like a drummer, a crummy one can wreck your band, but unlike a drummer, even a superb bass player can fade into the background, seeming for all the world like a mere utility placeholder while the singer, guitarist and drummer all get laid. Before the ‘80s, the bass player was perceived as the would-be guitarist who couldn’t make the cut and got offered a reduction in strings as a consolation prize. Since the ‘80s, bass has been the “easy” instrument a singer hands off to his girlfriend to get her in the band.

It’s all a crock of utter shit. A good bass player is your band’s spine, and is a gift to be cherished.

An excellent online resource for bassists, notreble.com, has links to an abundance of isolated bass tracks, from celebrated solos to deep cuts to which few casual fans give much thought. There are, of course, song-length showoffs like “YYZ” and “Roundabout,” but there are unassuming gems to be found too. Check out how awesome Tony Butler’s part is in Big Country’s kinda-eponymous debut single. It wanders off into admirable weirdness, but when the time comes to do the job of propelling the song forward, this shit is rocket fuel.
 

 

 
Though Sting has been engaged in a long-running battle with Bono to see who can be the most tedious ass to have released nothing of worth in over 25 years, listening to his playing in the Police serves as an instant reminder of why we even know who he is. The grooves in “Message In A Bottle” are famously inventive and satisfying, but even his work on more straightforward stuff like “Next To You” slays. You can practically hear the dirt on his strings in these.
 

 

 

 
Funny, as much of a trope as “chick bass player” has become, loads of time spent searching yielded almost no isolated tracks from female bassists. Which is ridiculous. The only one I found was Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, heard here on “Teenage Riot.” It takes a bit to work up to speed. Taken on its own, it’s a minimal, meditative, and quite lovely drone piece.
 

 

 
Here’s a gem—a live recording of Billy Cox, from Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, eating “All Along The Watchtower” for breakfast.
 

 

 
This one was a revelation—the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman on “Gimme Shelter.” I knew this was a great bass part, but there’s stuff in here I’ve never heard before, and it’s excellent. I should have been paying more attention.
 

 

 
But is there “Super Freak?” Oh yeah, there’s “Super Freak.”
 

 

 
I searched mightily to find isolated bass tracks from Spinal Tap’s gloriously excessive ode to both low-ends, “Big Bottom,” before I realized there would be absolutely no point in doing that. So I leave you with the unadulterated real thing.
 

 
Previously on DM: The incomparable James Jamerson: isolated

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World’


 
The wah-wah guitar effect pedal makes a “cry baby” sound by filtering the electronic frequencies up and down controlled by the players foot. The first one was put on the market in 1967 by Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company, the somewhat accidental creation of Brad Plunkett, a junior electronics engineer at the company. Plunkett’s prototype used a volume pedal from a Vox Continental Organ and a transistorized mid-range booster, but his original goal had only been to switch from a finicky tube to a much cheaper, easier to use piece of solid state circuitry. (Chet Atkins had designed a somewhat similar device in the late 1950s, which you can hear on his “Hot Toddy” and “Slinkey” singles)

Almost immediately the Cry Baby wah-wah pedal was adopted by the most famous guitar slingers in rock. One of the first was Eric Clapton, who used the effect to great effect in “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” Frank Zappa was a huge fan of the effect and is said to have introduced Jimi Hendrix to the Cry Baby who used it on “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and quite a bit after that. One of the most famous uses of the wah-wah pedal’s “wacka-wacka” effect is heard on Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft.”

In Joey Tosi and Max Baloian’s documentary Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World, the filmmakers explore the influence of the wah-wah pedal on popular music, talking to inventor Brad Plunkett, longtime Rolling Stone contributor Ben Fong-Torres, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Buddy Guy, Art Thompson, Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Dweezil Zappa and Jim Dunlop, a man whose name is synonymous with the production of musical effects devices.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Beautiful Mutants: DEVO’s utterly mind-bending Jimi Hendrix cover
03.25.2014
01:48 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix
DEVO


 
Once upon a time this DEVO video was widely known, but the Jimi Hendrix estate refused to allow it to be used after a certain point, saying it was insulting to Jimi (which it kind of is, I can see why they think that, but still, why deprive the world of this greatness?!). I used to have it on Laserdisc, but when that same collection came out on DVD, this clip—one of the best things on it—was missing.

From an interview with DEVO’s Gerald Casale in Ear Candy:

Ear Candy: Speaking of de-evolution, why didn’t the Hendrix estate give you permission to put the “Are U Experienced” video on the DVD?

Gerald Casale: Further de-evolution. You understand that the consortium of people that now represent the Hendrix estate are basically run by lawyers; the lawyer mentality. Lawyers always posit the worst-case scenarios. Though that video was loved for years by anybody who saw it including the man who commissioned it—Chuck Arroff—a luminary in the music business who still claims to this day that it was one of his five most favorite videos ever; they [the lawyers] didn’t get it and assumed we were making fun of Jimi. That’s like saying “Whip It” makes fun of cowboys. This is so stupid it’s unbelievable.”

This high budget clip, one of only two DEVO promos to be shot on 35mm film, was produced by group and Rev. Ivan Stang, founder of The Church of the Subgenius. I especially like the part where Mark Mothersbaugh has the big eyes of Margaret Keane’s paintings. Apparently this particular video also marked the first use of the “morphing” video effect.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Jayne Mansfield met Jimi Hendrix
02.19.2014
08:36 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Sex

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix
Jayne Mansfield


 
Sex appeal, according to Jayne Mansfield, is a wonderfully warm, healthy feeling that isn’t manufactured, or has anything to do with measurements or lipstick color, rather:

“An effervescent desire to enjoy life, that’s what sex appeal is to me.”

Though Mansfield regularly played-up to her vital statistics, she was no dummy. Jayne allegedly had a genius IQ, spoke five languages, and was smart enough to buck the Hollywood system—breaking away to achieve international success as an actress, singer, burlesque and cabaret entertainer starring in sell-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic

In 1965, Jayne cut two tracks in New York with a young session musician named Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Apparently this strange combo happened as Jayne and Jimi shared the same manager.
 

A-Side: As Clouds Drift By—Jayne Mansfield with Jimi Hendrix on guitar and bass.
 

B-Side: Suey—Jayne Mansfield with Jimi Hendrix on guitar and bass.
 
Below, Mansfield speaks from a bed on the set of Brit flick The Challenge (aka It Takes A Thief) to comb-over interviewer, Robert Robinson, in 1960:

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Final Jimi Hendrix interview, one week before he died
02.04.2014
04:38 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix


 

“When things get too heavy just call me helium—the lightest known gas to man.” - Jimi Hendrix

The sad (and beautiful) thing about this interview—the last interview Jimi Hendrix ever gave on September 11, 1970, a week before his death at the age of 27—is how happy the guy seemed.

He sounds neither druggy, nor in any way troubled. Full of life and excited about where his music was taking him.

The animation was done by Patrick Smith at Blank on Blank. Produced by David Gerlach. The interview was conducted by Keith Altham and you can hear the full recording at RocksBackPages.com
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Electric Xmasland: Jimi Hendrix dressed as Santa Claus, 1967
12.17.2013
06:47 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix


 
In 1967 Jimi Hendrix posed as jolly Old Saint Nick for the Record Mirror newspaper to promote his then new album, Axis: Bold as Love. The cover date of that issue was December 23, 1967 and the video below was shot the night before on December 22nd, at one of the last truly “underground” events of the 60s held in London, the all-night “Christmas on Earth Continued” festival.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience headlined and the line-up included The Who, Traffic, Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett’s last gig with the group), Eric Burdon and the New Animals, The Move and Soft Machine.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Hear My Train A Comin’: Watch new PBS Jimi Hendrix documentary while you still can
11.11.2013
09:39 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix


 
The latest documentary in the PBS American Masters series, My Train A Comin’ takes an in-depth look at the life and career of Jimi Hendrix. The two-hour long film uses heretofore unseen concert and home movie footage along with family letters, drawings and private photographs to tell a well-rounded story of the great rock guitarist who tragically died at the age of 27 in 1970.

Paul McCartney, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Eddie Kramer; Steve Winwood and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons are interviewed, as are three of the most influential women in his life: girlfriend Linda Keith who introduced Jimi to his manager Chas Chandler, Faye Pridgon who lived with Hendrix for four years in the early 60s (until he coldcocked her with his guitar after seeing her accept a peck on the cheek from another man) and Colette Mimram, the fashion designer who helped Hendrix create his signature stage look.

If you go directly to the American Masters website, there are plenty of great extras and outtakes. They don’t always leave these videos up forever on the PBS website, so you might not want to wait too long before you watch this.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
How Jimi Hendrix got himself banned from the BBC
10.18.2013
07:30 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix
Lulu

luluandjimi
Please, Jimi, don’t sabotage my TV show…

In 1969 the producers of pop singer Lulu’s BBC variety show thought it was a great idea to book The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Lulu was typecast as a squeaky clean, non-threatening, sweet entertainer who had multi-generational appeal. Despite her disapproval of marijuana, which prompted her then-husband Bee Gee Maurice Gibb to fling the windows of their home open for several minutes in all weather prior to her arrival, she was cooler than she was given credit for, even before her cameo appearances on Absolutely Fabulous. This is a woman who, in addition to a brief fling with David Bowie in the ‘70s, had the guts to scream at John Lennon for ignoring his first wife at a party to flirt with other women.

Hendrix had enjoyed recent success in the U.K. with “Hey Joe,” and the idea was for Lulu to sing the last few bars with him as a duet on her January 4, 1969 show before transitioning to her usual closing song. The producers had even suggested the unthinkable possibility of Jimi and Lulu singing a duet on “To Sir With Love,” her biggest hit.

Things didn’t quite work out that way.

Hendrix and the band were horrified at the idea of a duet with Lulu. The unflappable bassist Noel Redding wrote in his autobiography Are You Experienced? The Inside Story of The Jimi Hendrix Experience that the band tried to relax by smoking a lump of hash in the dressing room, which they accidentally dropped down the sink. Redding said:

I found a maintenance man and begged tools from him with the story of a lost ring. He was too helpful, offering to dismantle the drain for us. It took ages to dissuade him, but we succeeded in our task and had a great smoke.

After playing “Voodoo Child” as planned, Jimi allowed a blast of feedback to “accidentally” interrupt Lulu’s introduction of “Hey Joe.” The by now baked band played a few minutes of song before Jimi stopped abruptly. “We’d like to stop playing this rubbish,” he told the straight, ordinary, respectable, and totally bewildered audience. He then announced an impromptu tribute to Cream, who had just disbanded, and flew into an instrumental version of “Sunshine of Your Love.”

Lulu’s show producer Stanley Dorfman paused his nervous breakdown long enough to repeatedly point to his watch as they played out the show. Redding said:

Short of running onto the set to stop us or pulling the plug, there was nothing he could do. We played past the point where Lulu might have joined us, played through the time for talking at the end, played through Stanley tearing his hair, pointing to his watch and silently screaming at us.

As a result of this prank Hendrix was banned from appearing on the BBC. Eight years later when Elvis Costello was similarly banned from Saturday Night Live for stopping in the middle of “Less Than Zero” and playing “Radio Radio” instead, he admitted that he was copping Jimi’s move.

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Purple JELL-O®: Bill Cosby covers Jimi Hendrix
10.12.2013
04:47 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix
Bill Cosby


 
1968 was a very good year for Bill Cosby. He won his third consecutive Emmy for Best Actor in a TV Drama for his work in I Spy—a feat equaled only by Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad—and he was in the middle of his run of six consecutive Grammies for Best Comedy Recording, a feat you’d have to imagine will never be equaled. He also found time to release his second music album, Bill Cosby Sings Hooray for the Salvation Army Band!

The album is a shambolic and funkadelic and frankly amateurish treat. Backed by the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, the Cos takes on the Beatles (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”) and the Stones (“Satisfaction”). Interestingly, the title track, “Hooray for the Salvation Army Band!,” is actually a strange parody of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”—even though Hendrix is not credited as a composer on the track.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Jimi Hendrix’s eye-popping receipts from legendary NYC shop Manny’s Music
10.02.2013
10:52 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
Is this the Fender Stratocaster Jimi bought at Manny’s Music on Bastille Day of 1970? (Updated: It’s a Fender Jazzmaster.)
 
From the 1950s until quite recently, the block between between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue on 48th Street was known as “Music Row” because of the many music shops clustered there. But it is no more. In 2012 Sam Ash moved its main headquarters downtown to 34th St, but three years earlier, an even more shocking blow occurred when Manny’s Music closed its doors for good.

One of Manny’s most famous customers was Jimi Hendrix, who visited the store at least three times (or had someone visit on his behalf—two of the receipts feature other signatories as the recipient), each time dropping a gargantuan wad of cash for some high-end musical gear, according to receipts put up for auction at various auction houses over the years. (Technically, all three of the receipts are marked “CHARGE.”)

On September 16, 1969, Hendrix spent $484.42 on a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier as well as a ratchet, two pairs of mallets and bass strings (Christie’s). (That’s more than $3,000 today.)
 
Jimi Hendrix receipt
 
Two months later, on November 7, 1969, came Hendrix’s most extensive purchase, of the ones we’re documenting here. He purchased a Condor GSM Innovex guitar synthesizer, an Epiphone Casino, a Gibson Les Paul, an “Echoplex pedal,” and some assorted strings and cords (Heritage Auctions). That bill ran to $1,756.30 (more than $11,000 today).
 
Hendrix receipt
 
The most interesting item on any of these receipts—by far—is that Condor Innovex synthesizer, pictured here:
Condor Innovex
 
The Condor GSM Innovex was one of the first guitar synthesizers ever put on the market, and Jimi bought the item, perfect for generating CRAZY guitar sounds, about as soon as it was made available. Synthesizers had been around since the early 1960s and had already brought about significant changes in jazz and rock and even “classical” music. Guitar synths were just arriving on the market, and Jimi’s purchase here shows his restless interest in broadening the musical palette of the guitar.  True to Jimi’s ever-experimenting nature, it’s quite a bit ahead of its time.

On July 14, 1970, Hendrix purchased a Fender Stratocaster for $275.60 (Julien’s Live; more than $1,600 today).
 
Hendrix receipt 1970
 
Here is that Fender Strat:
Hendrix Fender Stratocaster
 
Here’s a great clip of the Hammond Innovex Condor GSM Guitar Synthesizer in action:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Jimi Hendrix Experience live (and out of tune) in little seen footage, Queens, NY, 1968
07.03.2013
03:47 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix


 
The Jimi Hendrix Experience performing right in the heart of Archie Bunker country at the time, Flushing, Queens’ Singer Bowl, on August 23rd, 1968.

Are You Experienced
Fire
Hey Joe
Wild Thing
Star Spangled Banner

It goes dark for a few minutes after the seven minute mark, but it starts up again. Goes dark again at the end, too. I posted it because a) I’ve never seen this particular Hendrix footage and b) It’s the most out-of-tune I’ve ever heard Jimi play.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Jimi Hendrix met Dusty Springfield, 1968
06.27.2013
10:41 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix
Dusty Springfield


 
What might have been one of those great “lost” moments in pop music history, but in this case has been kind of “half” found, is Dusty Springfield’s performance with The Jimi Hendrix Experience from her 1968 ITV series It Must Be Dusty.

Jimi and Dusty’s duet of “Mockingbird,” the soul/novelty number made famous by Inez & Charlie Foxx in 1963, hasn’t surfaced in decent quality yet—and maybe it never will—so savor this admittedly murky peek at it, apparently taken from a Super-8 film pointed at a TV screen when it originally would have aired.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Paul McCartney: The supergroup that wasn’t
05.10.2013
06:55 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Miles Davis
Jimi Hendrix
Paul McCartney


 
Due to the release of what is supposed to be the final final unheard cache of Jimi Hendrix recordings, People, Hell & Angels, worldwide interest has been stirred in a tantalizing bit of memorabilia currently residing in the collection of the Hard Rock Cafe in Prague: A 1969 telegram from Jimi Hendrix inviting Paul McCartney to record with him, Miles Davis and jazz drummer Tony Williams in New York.

The telegram, seen below, was sent to the Apple offices in London on October 21, 1969:

“We are recording and LP together this weekend in New York STOP How about coming in to play bass STOP call Alan Douglas 212-581 2212.

Peace Jimi Hendrix Miles Davis Tony Williams.”

Imagine that…

Beatles aide Peter Brown replied on Macca’s behalf, informing Hendrix that McCartney was on vacation and would not return for another two weeks (This was around the height of the “Paul is dead” rumor and a pissed-off McCartney was holed up with his family on his farm in Scotland trying to escape that mess).
 

 
Below, The Jimi Hendrix Experience covers “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”(I think just two days after it was released and with more than one Beatle in attendance)—this is probably as close as we’ll ever get to knowing what this supergroup might’ve sounded like:
 

 
Thank you kindly, Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Luna Lee plays SRV: ‘Scuttle Buttin’ gayageum version

vrsmuegayagnittub.jpg
 
By now you’ll have probably heard Luna Lee’s cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” on the gayageum. Now have a listen to Luna’s scintillating version of Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s classic “Scuttle Buttin’”.  Ooft.
 

 
With thanks to Woody Mcmillan
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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