Archive for Mitch Mitchell

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 Big Sister’s (Record) Rack: “Ramatam”

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on October 26, 2009 by 30daysout


Riffling through your big sister’s (or big brother’s) records, you often came to the conclusion that maybe he or she was cooler than you.  Maybe not a lot cooler, maybe just a little.  And you usually came to this conclusion by realizing that your elder sibling listened to music made by people you never heard of.  So today we focus on Ramatam, the 1972 self-titled debut album of a band that had big aspirations.

Ramtatam has been described as a “poor man’s Blind Faith,” and I suppose Ramatam - Frontthat’s appropriate – the band included guitarist/vocalist Mike Pinera, best known for writing and singing “Ride Captain Ride” with the group Blues Image.  He served some time as a member of Iron Butterfly before forming Ramatam.  The band’s drummer was Mitch Mitchell, formerly of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the focus of the five-piece group was April Lawton, a chick who was hyped at the time as a guitarist as good as Hendrix himself.

So this group had a lot to live up to – Tom Dowd (Allman Brothers Band, Derek and the Dominos) produced the album but its combination of hard rock and jazz rhythms with totally incongruous horns kind of made it sound like a mess.  “Heart Song,” written by Pinera with Les Sampson (also a drummer, he played with the Experience’s Noel Redding), takes the group into Traffic territory, while the harder rockin’ “Ask Brother Ask” sounds like Rare Earth or Jethro Tull with a sax instead of flute.  Lawton does some nice shreddin’ lead guitar on “Ask,” and she contributes three songs co-written with Ramatam keyboardist Tom Sullivan.  Probably the best of these is “Changing Days,” which sounds like a Crosby, Stills and Nash throwaway.

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