Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Jimi Hendrix - The Experience [Towne Records] (1970) Bootleg

(U.S 1963 - 1970)
This unique, unauthorized ‘bootleg’ release features a raw, two-track mixing console recording of Jimi’s March 19, 1968 concert in Ottawa, Canada. As far as I know (I've looked long and hard), this release by Towne Records (Los Angeles) has never being posted before. Sure, the Ottawa concert has being available under different titles with the Dagger Records release (see cover below) bieing the most common, but this bootleg is one of a kind.

Jimi’s appearance in Ottawa was part of an extensive US tour organized in support of his recently issued second album, Axis: Bold As Love. The guitarist arrived in New York on January 30, 1968 and immediately took part in a press reception organized by publicist Michael Goldstein. Goldstein dubbed the event “The British Are Coming” and made the Experience, as well as the other groups in the Michael Jeffery/Chas Chandler stable available to journalists and photographers at the Copter Lounge atop the Pan Am building in Manhattan.

Dagger Records Release
Following the media hoopla in New York, the Experience flew to San Francisco where their tour began in earnest at the Fillmore Auditorium on February 1. Eight shows over the course of four memorable nights at the Fillmore and Winterland Ballroom launched the tour in grand fashion.  From San Francisco, the Experience ventured across the US, performing at a mix of clubs, colleges, and medium sized auditoriums. Despite the growing popularity of Are You Experienced, issued the previous August by Reprise, Jimi’s US distributor, the Experience had only begun to develop a national following.  As a result, limited finances eschewed the comforts of a tour bus and made leasing a tour airplane unfathomable.  Instead, the group, guided by their faithful road manager Gerry Stickells, made much of their journey across the country in a rented station wagon.  In what can only be described as a remarkable test of their endurance and enthusiasm, the Experience performed sixty concerts in sixty days during the first leg of this

Five weeks into their dizzying tour itinerary, the Experience arrived in Ottawa to perform two shows at the city’s venerable Capitol Theater. As he often did when performing two concerts in one evening, Jimi varied his set lists.  He maintained some staples such as “Fire” and “Foxey Lady” in each concert, but in the evening’s early performance, of which no recording is known, newspaper reviews reveal that he featured “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “I Don’t Live Today”.  These songs were not revived for the second show, but in their place came “Spanish Castle Magic”, an energetic reading of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and the lengthy instrumental workout “Tax Free”.

Experience concerts bore little resemblance to seamlessly produced present day rock events.  In 1968, a Jimi Hendrix concert was truly a counter cultural gathering, fueled in large part by the support of underground radio and college newspapers.  The concerts themselves were miles away from today’s rigidly structured events which more often resemble a Broadway production than a traditional rock and roll show.  Technically, Jimi lacked virtually everything from amplifiers capable of withstanding his sonic demands to adequate stage monitoring [during this era, Mitch was often without any monitoring whatsoever].  There were no light cues or pyrotechnics timed to announce Hendrix’s arrival onstage. Jimi simply walked out, greeted the crowd, and would quickly tune his guitar.  During the performance, technical demands and other challenges were either solved on the fly or not at all.  This hasty work invariably took place in plain view of the audience.  Jimi’s Ottawa performance was no different.  As he and his crew struggled to overcome a variety of technical difficulties, Jimi peppered the crowd with his sly wit.

If a desultory review of Jimi’s performance, printed the following morning in the Ottawa Citizen, can be believed, the Experience sold out the second concert of the evening.

There is much to be relished in this unpolished recording.  Jimi’s train whistle feedback announces his powerhouse rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor”.  A stinging “Red House”, Jimi’s own blues masterwork, is even stronger.  Live In Ottawa also presents the earliest live version of “Tax Free” issued to date.  Here Mitchell and Redding push Hendrix insistently throughout the song’s complex arrangement.  The expanded introduction to “Hey Joe”, a precursor to the more elaborate efforts which would follow in the weeks and months to come, is wickedly clever and no doubt a salve to Hendrix’s restless creative spirit.  The guitarist loathed having to replicate his hits in the same manner night after night.  It is alterations and embellishments such as these which made every Jimi Hendrix performance so unique.

Just on five decades later, it is performances such as these which reveal just how exciting it was to have a witnessed a Jimi Hendrix Experience concert.

It is possible that Jimi himself recorded this performance on his own Sony reel to reel tape machine.  He frequently made recordings of various jam sessions and club performances for his own enjoyment.  It is more likely, however, that member of the Capital Theater stage crew documented the performance for posterity.  All of Jimi’s performance is presented in its original running order.  “Wild Thing”, the final song of the evening, cuts out just as Jimi tore through the song’s unforgettable opening chord sequence.  Apparently, the tape operator loaded his reel to reel tape machine with a 2400 hundred foot spool of blank tape.  Such a spool would provide slightly more than sixty minutes of recording time at seven and a half inches per second.  The recording begins with the introduction of the group by CKOY radio personality Nelson Davis and continues until the spool runs out. Lost is the balance of “Wild Thing”, but most of us know what happens at the end there … (extract from Dagger Records)

Full Concert Documentary
Tuesday, March 19 1968
Capitol Theatre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The Experience perform two shows at 18.00 and 20.30, supported by Soft Machine.

During their first show, they perform 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', 'Fire', 'Foxy Lady', 'Red House' and 'I Don't Live Today'.

After the MC introduces the Experience for their second show they launch straight into 'Killing Floor'. After the song, Jimi announces: "Yeah we're having slight difficulties with the equipment, so please hold on for one minute okay, just one second. I hate to bring my own self down with this raggedy equipment, I can tell ya..." The problem is temporarily sorted out, and Jimi continues with 'Tax Free', before announcing "a song called 'Let Me Stand Next To Your Old Lady'... I mean 'Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire'; it is the same thing, you know." At the start of the song, just as Jimi is counting the band in, loud voices come through the bank of Marshall amplifiers. Jimi apologises to the crowd, but continues the song anyway. The voices come through the amps again and Jimi responds with, "Oh man, shut up, man.

Anyway, we'd like to do a blues called 'Red House'. This is on the English LP. I'd like to do if for you now in 1948." This song is followed by 'Foxy Lady', then Jimi announces: " I'd like to try to continue on and... do a thing that was recorded back in 1778... [it was] very hard for us to record in those days, very, very hard indeed to find a studio. But dig, we found it some kind of way. And now [we've got] a brand new psychedelic version of it. Brand new, spanking new, new era type of thing. Yeah we put a 1948 rearrangement on it and it's really outta site man, you should hear it. It goes something like this here." Jimi continues with a version of 'Hey Joe' that includes the new introduction he has been adding. "Yes, we'd like to try a thing called 'Spanish Magic', er, 'Spanish Magic Laffish', yeah, written by Henry Schwartz..."

Jimi has been taping the show himself and now suddenly exclaims, "Oh the tape's gonna run out!" He comments to the audience: "You all just clapping just because you know there a tape recorder running. You don't want us to feel embarrassed when we play it at home to our girlfriends..." The audience responds with loud cheering and clapping, Jimi comments in a loud voice: "Thank you very, very much, thank you very much, we really didn't... we didn't deserve that really, thank you very much though, I really dig it. So I'd like to go ahead on and do 'Spanish Castle Magic', to see if we can get our heads together." Afterwards, Jimi comments: "There's a cat over there... Anyway, he said we have two more numbers to go, so I'd like to say thank you very much man, it's really been a groove and, er, you all really had nice patience, which, er, which is really handy. Thank you very much for letting me, you know get my kicks here and there too.

Now we'd like to play our world-famous song before we get into our last two songs. It's a thing called 'Tune up time blues, part two'." Just then, a roadie tells Jimi that one of his amplifiers is broken. He comments to the audience, in a Bill Cosby voice: "Man, my amplifiers broken. Man, 'em amp's broke, well I can't play my guitar now... It's a drag, man. Hey man, what you wanna break my amp like that for, man? Can you all dig Bill Cosby? He's really outta site." Meanwhile, Jimi is trying to tune his guitar and jokes with the audience: "Next we're gonna have on stage with us a jam session with three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and give 'em out to the winners." Still having problems getting his instrument in tune, Jimi picks up the Bill Cosby theme again: "Oh yeah, the cat... there's a certain person in the audience... how about a big hand for Bill Cosby sitting over there? How about a big hand for Bill Cosby, come on! Oh, wait a minute... Oh, I'm sorry lady, I'm sorry lady, I didn't oh... She spit in my eye, man."

Now tuned up, Jimi hits the harmonics on his guitar and starts a wild introduction to 'Purple Haze'. At the end of the song, he changes guitars - this makes the amplifiers whistle badly. His guitar is out of tune again, and, exasperated, he comments: "Wait a minute, wait a minute, man this really is a hang-up." He asks Noel to play an A so that he can tune his guitar, but as he hits the A string it is completely out of tune, and Jimi quips, "Oh, that's [definitely] not an A there. I mean, common sense would tell anybody that." He continues to tune his A string and tries to sing the same note simultaneously, joking: "Oh wow... I think I'll make a record! That'll be cool: sing on it too." Jimi proceeds to sing 'Rock Me Baby' in a comedy voice. "Oh yes, yes that's it. Oh yeah, you remember those days too, hey?" The audience responds with cheering and Jimi replies: "Yes, thank you very much, yes. For those of you who can't see us tonight, er, they were clapping because
I did a little trick with my guitar... "

Finally, Jimi repeats his monologue about the group's international anthem for soldiers returning from Vietnam, with "Ml6 machine guns and all this, Ml6 and hand grenades and tanks all on their backs and stuff. What if they came home with... like, er, feedback guitars... That's better than guns, I can tell you." Jimi plays a big feedback note and comments: "Something like that, I think I'd dig that. And anyway we wanna dedicate it to the feedback family and, er, all the human beings and you people." Ending with a mock plea of "Please join in because I've forgot the words," Jimi concludes the evening with 'Wild Thing' Unfortunately, the taper runs out of recording tape 1min 30sec into this last song.[extract from Jimi Hendrix: The Concert Files by Tony Brown, 1999. Omnibus Press. p86-87]

This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from my prized vinyl boot which I purchased from the Melbourne University market back in the late 70's. I remember paying $25 for this double bootleg (a small fortune for a poor uni student at the time) along with two other Hendrix bootlegs released by Toasted Records. I've been sitting on this gem for years and have finally decided to share it with you. This is an awesome bootleg and was rated by Hot Wacks as Excellent Mono. So get it now, before it melts LOL
Full album artwork and label scans included.
Note: that the track listed on the cover "Instrumental-Jimi Jam" is in fact "Taxman".  Towne Records has chosen to include some random tracks on Side 4: "I Don't Live Today" (recorded at the LA Form in 1969), a jam with Stevie Wonder in 1967 based on the song "In The Midnight Hour" and a documentary type track based on how Dolly Dagger was recorded by Jimi.
Track Listing
01 - Foxey Lady
02 - Fire
03 - Killing Floor
04 - Red House
05 - Spanish Castle Magic
06 - Hey Joe
07 - Instrumental-Jimi Jam (aka Taxman)
08 - Purple Haze
09 - I Don't Live Today (LA Forum, 1969)
10 - In The Midnight Hour-Jam (with Stevie Wonder, 1967)
11 - Dolly Dagger (Studio Mixing Session)
Jimi Hendrix (Guitar, Vocals)
Noel Redding (Bass)
Mitch Mitchell (Drums)
Jimi Hendrix Experience Link (178Mb)


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