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 Midnight Lightning (1975)


The opening riff to “Foxey Lady” provides the foundation for the instrumental “Trash Man,” and no amount of bastardization can take away from the genius guitarist his legacy. If you take this work at face value, without the baggage of what “producer” Alan Douglas did to the tapes, this time with Tony Bongiovi along for the ride, it’s still Hendrix. Maybe God allowed the series of albums to happen so the world could see Hendrix’s work could survive doctoring and musicians jamming with his art after the fact. That this disc goes for big bucks on Internet auction sites says something about the timelessness of the music.

The title track, as with seven of the eight performances here, has session player Alan Schwartzberg on drums, a far cry from his work with Carole Bayer Sager. Mitch Mitchell only appears on Hendrix’s blues classic “Hear My Train,” Schwartzberg adding shakers. Bob Babbit is the “designated bassist” on the entire project (no doubt what Billy Cox and Noel Redding thought about this), and Jeff Mironov shares guitar duties with Lance Quinn. That’s not a misprint. Thankfully, the extra guitarists are somewhat invisible — you know, what’s the point of having co-vocalists add their talents to a Janis Joplin disc? What these recordings effectively do is offer the world a comparison between what the official Hendrix estate is doing, and what Douglas did. The Hendrix estate wins that battle, Eddie Kramer and John McDermott carefully restoring all the master tapes of Jimi Hendrix, and restoring them properly. Discs like Midnight Lightning are also a statement on how a great artist’s legacy can go through various hands and the artistic consequences of tapes traveling as if under their own steam.

History is an excellent vantage point from which to view. The title track is great — and it goes along with the cover painting very nicely. Is it blasphemy to say that this is a highly enjoyable disc? All the post-Cry of Love releases — War Heroes, Crash Landing, Voodoo Soup, Blues, Hendrix in the West, Rainbow Bridge, the soundtrack to the Jimi Hendrix film, and this — provide another crucial look at Hendrix. The more the merrier. It is great to have the official Hendrix estate with Janie Hendrix, John McDermott, and Eddie Kramer doing this properly, but this version of “Gypsy Boy (New Rising Sun),” the inclusion of Mitch Mitchell’s “Beginnings,” another “Machine Gun,” and “Blue Suede Shoes” exist, thus they are important additions to the Hendrix archives. It will be interesting to see if the official Hendrix estate eventually re-releases the Alan Douglas masters just to keep these once-legit works from cluttering the market with counterfeits. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Midnight Lightning | | Leave a comment