Classic Rock Review

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Jimi Hendrix Crash Landing & Midnight Lightning (1975)


1975 saw the release of two more Jimi Hendrix studio albums. I remember being excited about the prospect of more Hendrix in the studio. I had assumed the supply of unreleased studio tracks had been exhausted. While Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning may not have been as strong as previous posthumous releases; there were still some interesting and quality tracks. Those were my thoughts before I realized just how the two albums had actually been put together.

This brings us to the controversial figure; producer Alan Douglas. He would somehow acquire control of the Jimi Hendrix catalogue and hold on to it for nearly twenty years; until Hendrix’s family would win control back after an extended court battle. Douglas would take un-issued tracks by Hendrix and erase everything except for Jimi’s contributions. He would then bring in studio musicians and create songs more in tune with his own vision.

Crash Landing was released in March of 1975 and was the first of the Alan Douglas productions. What would further anger a lot of Hendrix fans was Douglas taking a co-writing credit on five of the songs. The album would become a top five hit and make Douglas a rich man.

It is difficult at times to understand Jimi Hendrix’ original intent for these songs. I find it best to approach and appreciate them as they are presented. “Captain Coconut” is a classic Hendrix psychedelic tune. “Come Down Hard On Me” is almost straight blues and features him at his guitar best. “Message Of Love” and “Stone Free Again” may not be classics but they certainly feature some high points for him.

Midnight Lightning would be nowhere near as popular as Crash Landing. Douglas did not take any writing credits but again would erase all the contributions by Noel Redding, Billy Cox, Buddy Miles, and Mitch Mitchell. He even used this approach on the Noel Redding composition, “Trashman.”

Midnight Lightning may be the weakest of the Hendrix studio releases. “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Here My Train A Comin’” pale next to the previously released live versions. “Midnight Lightning” does have some nice Hendrix guitar work but “Gypsy Boy,” “Once I Had A Woman,” and “Iszabella/Machine Gun” are only average at best and suffer from Douglas’ tinkering.

Many of the songs contained on Midnight Lightning and Crash Landing were re-released after 1995 and restored to their original intent as much as possible. These two albums are for the Hendrix aficionado only as they are interesting but ultimately are two of the weakest in the Hendrix inventory.

February 23, 2013 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Crash Landing, Jimi Hendrix Midnight Lightning | | Leave a comment

Jimi Hendrix Crash Landing (1975)


Crash Landing was the eighth studio album by American guitarist Jimi Hendrix, released in March and August 1975 in the United States and the United Kingdom respectively. It was the fifth Hendrix studio album released after his death and was the first to be produced by Alan Douglas.

Before Hendrix died in 1970, he was in the final stages of preparing what he intended to be a double studio LP, tentatively titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Most of the tracks intended for this LP were spread out over three posthumous single LP releases: The Cry of Love (1971), Rainbow Bridge (1971), and War Heroes (1972). In the case of last two of these LP’s, a demo track, a live track, & unreleased studio tracks were used to fill out the releases. In late 1973, his International label prepared to issue an LP titled Loose Ends which contained eight tracks, six of which were generally regarded as incomplete or substandard (the only two “finished” tracks on this release were “The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice”, a B-side which had been released in 1969 on the European and Japanese versions of the Smash Hits, and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Drifter’s Escape”, both of which would ultimately be re-released on the South Saturn Delta CD in 1997). Loose Ends was not released in the USA by Reprise because they considered the quality of the tracks to be subpar .

Hendrix had amassed a lot of time in the studio in 1969 and 1970, resulting in a substantial amount of songs, some close to completion, that were available for potential release. After the death of Hendrix’ manager in 1973, Alan Douglas was hired to evaluate hundreds of hours of remaining material that was not used on earlier posthumous albums. Except for “Stone Free Again”, which was an April 1969 re-recording of “Stone Free” with the original Jimi Hendrix Experience line up, the material used on Crash Landing consisted of recordings Hendrix originally made with Billy Cox on bass and either Mitch Mitchell or Buddy Miles on drums.

Crash Landing was the first release produced by Douglas, and immediately caused controversy. The liner notes of the album indicated that Douglas used several session musicians, none of whom had ever even met Hendrix, to re-record or overdub guitar, bass, drums, and percussion on the album, erasing the contributions of the original musicians and changing the feel of the songs (Hendrix’ vocals and guitar contributions were retained). This was evidently done to give a finish to songs that were works in progress or may have been recorded as demos. Douglas also added female backing vocals to the title track. Fans and critics were also chagrined to learn that Douglas credited himself as co-writer of five of the eight songs on the album. Despite all this, the album peaked at #5 in the U.S. and #35 in the UK, the highest chart positions since The Cry of Love.

Other Appearances of Songs
Some of the tracks on Crash Landing had appeared on previous Hendrix albums. “Message to Love” and “With the Power” were on the original 6-song Band of Gypsys album recorded at the Fillmore East on New Year’s Eve of 1969/70 (the latter was listed using its more common title “Power of Soul”) released in early 1970. “Message to Love” was recorded in two sessions on December 1969 and January 1970. Besides its appearance on Crash Landing, “Message to Love” was re-released on Douglas’ 1995 compilation Voodoo Soup, along with the instrumental track “Peace in Mississippi”. The 1997 compilation South Saturn Delta contained an extended, reworked version of “Message to Love” entitled “Message to the Universe” as well as a longer version “With the Power”/”Power of Soul”. “Somewhere” was recorded in March 1968 prior to the sessions for Electric Ladyland. “Come on Down Hard on Me” is a slightly re-worked version of the same song that originally appeared in on Loose Ends in 1974. This song was recorded in July, 1970 and remixed by Hendrix and engineer Eddie Kramer in August. “Stone Free Again” was recorded in April 1969 by the original Jimi Hendrix Experience line-up two months before Noel Redding’s departure. It was intended for release as a possible single in the U.S. but was shelved when the original version of the song was included on Smash Hits that summer. “Message to Love”, “Somewhere”, “Come on Down Hard on Me”, and “Stone Free (Again)” were included on The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set from 2000 with the original musicians restored.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Crash Landing | | Leave a comment