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Voodoo Chile

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

It took weeks of saving left-over lunch money. Finally, the moment.  A visit to Fletcher’s in High Street this time to buy … rather than just fingering & flickering through album covers, picking out those most tempting.

My target: Electric Ladyland, third and last album from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Double vinyl – meant saving for a double purchase.

As I walked home (fast) along Station Street, I don’t think I saw a single thing around me – my eyes on my prize. Turning it over and around, opening it up, trying to work it out … weird layout. What looked like the front cover (because it carried the title & artist) was positioned as the back cover.

Both front & back sleeve images are photographs from Karl Ferris. The back cover – or was it the front? – had Hendrix in that hypnotic “gypsy eyes” jacket, flanked by Mitchell & Redding. The front was Hendrix illuminated by fire.

Front Cover

Front Cover

Back Cover

Back Cover

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And when, finally, the stylus met the vinyl the fire flamed from the speakers … screeched and boomed, echoed around the room.

I was astounded at what I heard … and so was my Mum.

My first reason for coveting Electric Ladyland was the powerful (and definitive) cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower  which had been played heavily on commercial radio. It entered the Go-Set Top 40 in November 1968, debuting at 27 – and it stayed in the chart for 15 weeks, peaking at #9 in January 1969.

Voodoo Chile, though, conveyed a sense of spontaneity. I love the way it drifts and drives into chaos and climaxes, at times almost degenerating into complete rabble … and then gets reeled back in, guided by something beyond human … voodoo maybe? Or the synergy generated early one morning by some amazing musicians.

Connection with The 59th Street Bridge Song (from Live Adventures)?

Mainly it’s that guitar/organ combination – at times layered over each other, then battling it out, then exchanging &echoing phrases. On Feelin’ Groovy it was Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield, here it is Stevie Winwood taking the seat behind the Hammond.

Al Kooper also contributes to Electric Ladyland playing piano on Long Hot Summer Night.

Mike Bloomfield appeared a number of times with Jefferson Airplane, whose bassist Jack Casady takes the bass on this track.

Buddy Miles drums on a couple of Electric Ladyland tracks, and eventually teams up with Hendrix in Band of Gypsys. He was also in The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield.

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Other Stuff You Might Enjoy

* Some Hendrix anecdotes from:

Chris Squire. (7m 28s) Robert Wyatt  (7m 7s) Robert Fripp  (4m 11s)

* Karl Ferris Psychedelic Experience – a photobook.

Letter from Hendrix. The album sleeve was different in the UK and the US (Australia followed the US). Hendrix had written to the record company explaining what he wanted – he did not get his way. This link takes you to that letter and another with the album liner notes.

Where to next?

OK … back from the outskirts of infinity. Now is it to be another extremity or something a bit more mainstream and countable.

North: 59th St Bridge Song. Already crossed.
East:    Buster Voodoo by Rodrigo Y Gabriela
South: Miles Runs The Voodoo Down from Miles Davis
West:  Hoochie Coochie Man, The Allman Brothers Band

crossroad 5

What’s your choice?

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