Classic Rock Review

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Jimi Hendrix Loose Ends (1973)


Every now and then the music business abides by the truth-in-advertising laws and 1973’s “Loose Ends …” stands as a perfect example. Compiled by former Hendrix manager Michael Jeffery, musically these eight tracks were a true hodgepodge of studio odds and ends with the oldest stretching back to July 1967 (‘The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice’), the most recent effort being the leadoff track ‘Coming Down Hard on Me Baby’ which had been recorded in July 1970.

Whereas up to this point Reprise Records management had shown no concern with the Jeffrey’s four earlier posthumous Hendrix releases, citing concern for the poor quality of the material, this time around they refused to release the album in the States or Canada, though that didn’t stop Polydor Records from acquiring rights and releasing it throughout the rest of the world. Having heard those earlier releases, I can tell you this one really wasn’t that much worse. In fact, by my count four of the eight tracks were worth spinning more than once, That’s a pretty high winning ratio even for a studio set !

– Due in large measure to the fact it was one of the more complete and finished performances, ‘Coming Down Hard on Me Baby’ was one of the standout performances. That wasn’t to say it was anywhere near a classic Hendrix performance. Falling somewhere between studio jam and standard blues-rocker, on one of his studio albums it wouldn’t made much of an impression, but surrounded by the rest of these outtakes and castoffs, it was okay. rating: *** stars
– While it was billed as a cover of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, the fact of the matter is this one was nothing but stoned in-studio gibberish with Hendrix going on and on trying to get Buddy Miles to come up with the backbeat pattern he had in his mind. The first half of the track was a total waste of time unless you really felt the need to hear a stoned Hendrix mumbling on and on. When he actually started jamming the results were at least worth a spin. rating: ** stars
– ‘Jam 292’ was a faceless, bluesy instrumental jam. Even with the Hendrix solo, you’ve heard far better at your local redneck bar. rating: ** stars
– The earliest performance on the album (1967), ‘The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice’ was the most psychedelic and enjoyable song on the set. This one would have slotted nicely on one of the first three studio albums. In fact my only complaint about this one had to do with the voices that popped up on the backing tracks – they simply served to distract from the rest of the song. rating: **** stars
– I’m not sure why, but like The Byrds, Hendrix seemed to have an affinity for Bob Dylan covers and while ‘The Drifter’s Escape’ may not have been as impressive as ‘All Along the Watchtower’ it came pretty darn close. Another album highlight. Only complaint here was the abrupt fade out. rating: **** stars
– Even though it initially recalled ‘Dolly Dagger’, I’ll admit to liking the first part of the slinky rocker ‘Burning Desire’. The song also featured a standout Hendrix solo, My big problem with this one was it degenerated into a formless bluesy jam that seemed to go on forever, before returning to the main melody at the end, and the sound quality was abysmal. The song sounded like it had been recorded over a long distance phone line. Shame. rating: *** stars
– Sounding like a throwaway studio jam, ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’ was at least fun to hear. Keeping it fairly simple and straightforward, Hendrix and company sounded like they were simply having a good time on this one. rating: *** stars
– Just Hendrix and his guitar, the brief instrumental ‘Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)’ served as another album highlight. To my ears this song fragment was all the more enjoyable and powerful for its pure simplicity. rating: **** stars

Sad to say, but even Hendrix looked tired (or thoroughly stoned) on this one … check out the back cover photo of the guitarist. A couple of others folks have already said it – unless you’re a Hendrix fanatic you don’t need this one.

The album was released with a bunch of different covers, including the wild French and original UK versions seen above. The material has also been repackaged a couple of times, including a 1983 UK package on the Contour label with the clever title “The Jimi Hendrix Album”.

April 29, 2013 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Loose Ends | | Leave a comment

Jimi Hendrix Loose Ends (1973)


Well, the one sincere thing about this album is its title: Loose Ends. Because indeed it is a patchwork of some Hendrix studio sessions (rehearsals), and they’re not the first rate, I must say.

It seems like the album editor glued pieces of tape as a jig-saw puzzle – and provided enough material, length-wise to be published as an album. It meets that requirement, if nothing else.

It’s a tricky thing with posthumous albums: they’re part of artist’s official discography, but you can be almost certain the artist himself wouldn’t do it that way. Compilations are another story; you can simply dismiss them as an attempt to gain extra money (although there are some good ones too).

Some tracks from ‘Loose Ends’ (see? I’m refusing to call them songs, because some of them are not complete songs) are taken from previously released material, some are rehearsals that end with a fade-out, some are instrumental versions of known-songs, there’s a blues standard…

The blues standard is good old Willie Dixon’s ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and it’s decent, even if a bit sub-par in vocal delivery (Jim could had it better certainly). Jam 292 is exactly what it name suggests, Blue Suede Shoes is…wait. It’s specific. Half of the songs is Jimi explaining to the drummer (Michell or Buddy Miles? tracks are a mixed bag with various musicians) how to play the song, insisting only on ‘cymbal and snare’ in an old fashioned-way.

I have to admit Jimi’s trademark guitar sound and approach doesn’t feet well with such an approach. It ends with a fade-out, implying that a jam continued for who knows how long. That’s the material we are dealing with here. It might be interesting to Hendrix fans who are interested in knowing how was Jimi working with his colleagues – it could be aimed at fans that are musicians, I guess. Poor Perkins. First a certain truck driver took his song and became famous, and then he experienced numerous butcherings of it. Including this one. I’m sure Jimi wouldn’t like it to be published neither.

‘The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice’ is the same as the original. If there are some minor differences, I can’t trace them. But I never understood this one to be frank, it seems like a quite noodling cacophony.

Everything else is quite forgettable, except for ‘Burning Desire’ that stands out of the crowd: I like this one a lot (was headbanging on it in my teens) – it’s powerful, with grinding guitar, ascending in melody, tempo and energy, building up on blues-driven madness while Jimi shouts ‘burning desire, all around electric chair’. Angular, unusual, and yet so distinctly marked with Jimi’s signature. It’s worth all the points for rating of this unsuccessful album ,the other one being ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, perhaps for its educational value, but certainly not for wider audience.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Loose Ends | | Leave a comment