Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Jimi Hendrix Nine To The Universe (1980)


After issuing two faked Hendrix albums in the seventies, Alan Douglas put together this very interesting album. There is no after-the-event overdubbing here, but as unofficial releases (and the recent official “Hear My Music” on Dagger) have revealed, the jams from which these tracks were assembled, were heavily edited. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

For years Miles Davis, for example, had left hours of jams in the hands of his producer Ted Macero, who edited everything down to make some of the musicians classic albums. Here, Alan Douglas adopted the same technique (although, unlike Miles, Jimi was not around to approve it) to create an exciting glimpse of Jimi working out at the Record Plant in New York, in early to mid 1969.

Douglas wisely edited out some passages (where Jimi perhaps toyed with a riff repeatedly, searching for ideas) to create something more uniform. All tracks are instrumental (apart from a brief vocal on the title track) and some tracks lean towards a “jazz” feel, which had always been part of Jimi’s music anyway (“Up From The Skies”, Rainy Day”, “Tax Free”) and these jam sessions are seen to be a pointer as to where Jimi’s music might have been heading for in the future.

Jimi was interested in elements of jazz improvisation but felt inhibited by the intense academic approach of many top musicians in the field. Jimi played on his instincts and couldn’t read sheet music ! At one point he met Miles Davis and they planned to work together, but once money was discussed, negociations unfortunately fell apart. Also, just before he died, Jimi was lined up to record with the saxophonist Roland Kirk (they had jammed together) and arranger Gil Evans (famous for his work with Miles Davis). Evans in fact later put out a big band tribute to Jimi in the seventies, which is worth a listen.

Alan Douglas had planned to include a jam with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin here, but the latter blocked its release (he had played only on an acoustic guitar unfortunately fitted up with a faulty pick-up) so the tapes remained on the shelf. In 1970, Douglas had produced a McLaughlin album (“Devotion”) which featured Buddy Miles and keyboard player Larry Young, who plays with Jimi here on “Young/Hendrix”.

The opening track is a jam on a riff that would become “Message To Love” later in the year. On the fabulous “Easy Blues”, Jimi’s friend Larry Lee plays second guitar (he was of course part of Jimi’s “Woodstock” band). “Jimi/Jimmy Jam” has Jim McCarty (of Buddy Miles Express and later Cactus) on second guitar and perhaps Roland Robinson (who was Eddie Flyod’s bassist I think) or Dave Holland.

The superb “Drone Blues” features passages that Jimi had previously used in “Drivin’ South” and would later work into “Midnight Lightning”. Interesting to note that Billy Cox plays bass throughout here (except on track two) and this happened while The Experience were still together. The first track, from May 1969, even features Buddy Miles on drums, “A Band Of Gypsys” therefore, and months before the band was to officially exist.

The rest of the tracks feature Mitch Mitchell and Rocky Issacs (“Drone Blues”).


April 5, 2013 - Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Nine To The Universe |

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