Archive for Jimi Hendrix Experience

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Fat Mattress

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by 30daysout

Found this dusty classic in the back of my sister’s closet – Fat Mattress, from 1969, the eponymous first album by a band featuring British singer Neil Landon and guitarist Noel Redding who at the time was bass player in the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Fat Mattress came about because Landon and Redding were buddies who wrote songs together – the duo then recruited bassist Jim Leverton and drummer Eric Dillon (who had both performed in Engelbert Humperdinck’s backing group).

Redding was really the sparkplug behind this gathering.  He sought a venue where he could write, sing and play lead guitar as a frontman; he was of course not able to do that with the Experience.  Redding and Landon had written a number of songs together for a failed Landon solo record, and these wound up as the basis for the first Fat Mattress effort.

“All Night Drinker,” which opens the record, has an unmistakable Jethro Tull feel complete with a rock flute.  But the flute player is really Chris Wood from Traffic, not the only superstar who would pop up on this record.  “I Don’t Mind” is an inoffensive but anonymous bit of English psychedelic pop rock, as is “Petrol Pump Assistant,” with its Byrds-like chiming guitar figure.

One of the album highlights is the wiggy “Magic Forest,” another Traffic soundalike.  In fact, “Magic Forest” was released as a single and achieved mild success – it was a hit in the Netherlands.  “Everything’s Blue” and “Walking Through A Garden” are more flavorful slabs of English pop rock, the former song evoking the sound of Yes and the latter sounding an awful lot like the Who.  Then of course there’s “How Can I Live,” in which Redding’s buddies from the Experience show up to play – Mitch Mitchell sits in on drums and Jimi Hendrix handles the percussion.

The first major public exposure of  Fat Mattress was as the opening act on a Jimi Hendrix U.S. tour, during which Redding performed with both bands. Although they played some big audiences opening for Hendrix,  Fat Mattress were ultimately unable to achieve any notable success on their own.  In fact, their own U.S. headlining tour was canceled after only five dates.  The group disbanded shortly after releasing Fat Mattress II, the follow up to the debut LP.

After leaving Hendrix in 1969 Redding played with a number of bands including the heavy metal trio Road.  Redding stayed bitter about signing away his royalties from the ongoing sales of Hendrix/Experience recordings; in fact when he died in 2003 he had been planning a lawsuit to attempt to gain some of those lost royalties.

MP3: “All Night Drinker”

MP3: “Magic Forest”

MP3: “Walking Through A Garden”

MP3: “How Can I Live”

Review: “Valleys of Neptune,” Jimi Hendrix

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by 30daysout

For a guy who only released three or four albums in his lifetime, Jimi Hendrix is certainly more prolific in death.  No less than 10 different albums of new studio material have emerged in the 40 years since Hendrix’s death, and today we see the release of the 11th such album, Valleys of Neptune.

It’s part of a joint effort by the Hendrix estate and Sony, cataloging and reissuing everything that Hendrix recorded.  Valleys of Neptune contains seven previously unreleased studio tracks and five new recordings of some well known songs.

A lot of this stuff was recorded in 1969 after the release of Electric Ladyland using a variety of back-up musicians.  The original Experience (Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass) play on many of the cuts, including “Fire” and “Red House,” cut for Hendrix’s 1967 debut Are You Experienced?

There are also a couple of excellent cover tunes, including an Elmore James blues, “Bleeding Heart,” originally released on 1972’s War Heroes but included here as an alternate, extended version.  The fireworks really go off on Cream’s  “Sunshine Of Your Love,” played as an instrumental with Jimi’s guitar pyrotechnics taking center stage.

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Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Billy Cox’s Nitro Function

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on December 12, 2009 by 30daysout

My sister continues to surprise me.  Today I found in her room a record that even I had never heard of, at least until I did a little research on it.  It’s called Nitro Function by Billy Cox.  Man, how is she coming up with this stuff?

Billy Cox is a dude who is best known for playing bass in Band of Gypsys, a band which is best known of course for having Jimi Hendrix as the guitar player.  Band of Gypsys was Hendrix’s backing band after he dissolved his Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1969.  Billy Cox actually was an old Army buddy of Hendrix, and after Hendrix dismissed Experience bassist Noel Redding he called on Cox.

Cox played bass behind Hendrix at Woodstock, and he played in a number of bands with Hendrix before Jimi got famous.  And of course, Cox played bass on the Band of Gypsys album that came out in 1970, just three months before Hendrix’s death.  In 1971 Cox put his own band together; the guitarist is Charlotte “Char” Vinnedge, guitarist and singer for the all-girl 1960s garage band the Luv’d Ones, and drummer Robert Tarrant.  At first glance the result would appear to be very much like Ramatam, another band with a Hendrix alumni and a chick singer/guitar player.  But no – I like this one a little better because the chick guitarist is pretty good.

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