Archive for Band of Gypsys

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Buddy Miles

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by 30daysout

One thing I’ve noticed, my big sister is a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix.  Now while Hendrix was only in the spotlight between his breakthrough performance at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and his death in 1970, and he released only four albums in his lifetime, he was apparently working all the time.  Hendrix’s own material has been accumulated in 11 posthumously released albums (and more are promised) however what’s not so widely known is that apparently Hendrix worked on a number of other artists’ albums, not only as a performer but as a producer.

Today’s album by the Buddy Miles Express is Electric Church, from 1969.   Miles is of course the drummer and singer who worked with Hendrix in the Band of Gypsys along with bassist Billy Cox, who’s been covered here alsoElectric Church is of interest because of the involvement of Hendrix, who produces four of the album’s seven cuts and plays guitar on a few as well.

One of those is the opener “Miss Lady,” an R&B shouter with some stinging psychedelic lead guitar presumably by Hendrix.  Miles is a convincing R&B singer, and he pushes  “Miss Lady”  into the red with some hair-raising soul screamin’ over the raucous guitar and backing horns.  You can tell these boys liked to jam in the studio – “Miss Lady” has an electrifying “live” feel as does most of the other tunes here.

“69 Freedom Special,” with Hendrix stomping the wah-wah pedal is another uptempo jumper arranged in the style that was no doubt considered “funky” at the time – real brassy horns with some truly psychedelic guitar leads.  The saxophone playing on this cut, by either James Tatum or Bobby Rock, is excellent.  Even when Buddy slows it down with a lush soul ballad like “Cigarettes and Coffee,” he can’t help but sound psychedelic … with a little help from the odd echo on his vocals.

On “Texas,” a slow blues co-written by Miles and Mike Bloomfield, has some nice guitar work by Jim McCarty, who previously worked in Mitch Ryder’s Detroit Wheels.  Electric Church convenes with a version of Sam and Dave’s “Wrap It Up,” which was also covered on Miles’ debut Expressway To Your Skull from the previous year.  Nevertheless, the song ends the short (about 38 minutes) album on a sweaty, feverish note.

Buddy Miles would go on to play with Hendrix in the Band of Gypsys – on the album of the same name Miles debuted a song he wrote, “Them Changes.”  He would go on to re-record that tune and it would become a hit and a blues-rock standard.  During his career Miles appeared on more than 70 albums and worked with musicians including Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Barry White and George Clinton.  He died in 2008 at his home in Austin.

McCarty, by the way, went on to play with the so-called supergroup Cactus, with former Vanilla Fudge members Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, and later in the 1970s he would form the Rockets with former Wheels drummer John Badanjek.  Les Paul covered “69 Freedom Express,” which was written by McCarty, and won a Grammy Award for that version.  McCarty is still considered one of the grandfathers of Detroit rock, influencing younger whippersnappers like Ted Nugent and late Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton.

MP3: “Miss Lady”

MP3: “69 Freedom Special”

MP3: “Texas”

Buddy Miles official website (nothing more than a splash page apparently still under construction)

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading