Curtis Knight & the Squires (with Jimi Hendrix at left)
Listen/Download – Curtis Knight featuring Jimi Hendrix – Get That Feeling – MP3
Here we gather again at the middle of the week, like Sisyphus at the top of the hill, hoping that this is the time we get to push it over the top.
Anyway, today’s selection is something a little bit heavy, a little bit freaky, but entirely soulful. It’s also part of one of the most convoluted back alleys of the Jimi Hendrix discography.
As long as I’ve been listening to rock music, I’ve loved Jimi Hendrix.
Though Hendrix has a spot on the rock’n’roll Olympus, I think that by and large he is misunderstood by a large segment of the “classic rock” audience.
Part of the problem is that Jimi died when he was only 27 years old, splitting the sphere (as Lord Buckley would say) right in the midst of an important phase of his artistic evolution. It seems likely had he survived, he would have gone a long way to ironing out his freak flag and becoming better known for the more sublime aspects of his art, and less as the flaming orange velvet hyper-stud of the psychedelic era.
Back in the day when I was first listening to Hendrix, I like most of the world that wasn’t old enough to buy his albums when they were first released, picked up ‘Smash Hits’ and had my mind blown. This (as the title suggests) was the side of Hendrix that was best known by the rock audience. The quality of songs like ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Foxey Lady’ is obvious, but until you’ve taken the heavy side of Hendrix and placed it in the context of his entire oeuvre – especially the three Jimi Hendrix Experience LPs – it becomes immediately obvious that Jimi, like the legendary lotus was ever unfolding, revealing new aspects of his genius as he went along.
If you haven’t given his major works a serious listen (for whatever reason) I suggest that if you take the time to do so you will be richly rewarded. Jimi Hendrix really was the master of his instrument, but in so many ways that had nothing to do with the pyrotechnic jive that made his name as a dynamic stage performer. I don’t mean to suggest that his performances weren’t amazing, but that they were merely a single facet of his musical power.
It’s fairly well known that in the years prior to his breakout with the Experience, Jimi spent a lot of time working on the road as a backing guitarist for a wide variety of R&B and soul performers, including Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, Johnny Jones & the King Casuals and Carl Holmes & the Commanders as well as studio work on records by Lonnie Youngblood, Billy Lamont and Frank Howard and the Commanders. One of the artists that Hendrix worked for during his time in New York was Curtis Knight.
Knight had recorded several 45s since the early 60’s, and added Hendrix to his band the Squires in 1965.
Hendrix would record a few singles with the band, and also signed a contract with their manager Ed Chalpin.
What happened in the next few years is pretty familiar history, including his emigration to the UK, the formation of the Experience and his triumphant return to the US at Monterey Pop.
After Hendrix became a big star, he was sued by Chalpin for breach of contract. In a truly odd move, for reasons lost in the sands of time, while this legal action was going on Jimi went back into the studio with Knight to play on some existing tracks as well as recording some new jam sessions. After Chalpin won his case in court he proceeded to create something of a cottage industry editing, releasing and re-releasing the music from sessions that Hendrix did with Knight in 1965, 1966 and 1967 in a wide variety of forms.
While some of these tracks are utter garbage, with little or no Hendrix creative involvement, some of them are actually pretty cool, even though they often paled in comparison to what Hendrix was capable of releasing himself.
One of the cooler tracks to come out of the clusterfuck is today’s selection, ‘Get That Feeling’.
Basically a heavy, soulful jam, ‘Get That Feeling’ features funky bass and drums, distorted guitar and Curtis Knight wailing over the top of it all with a vocal that seems improvised, but in a good way like one of those end of the night performances where the singer is hanging on for dear life and riffing as much as anyone else on the bandstand.
While some parts of the song are more cohesive than others, Knight’s vocal is wild and inspired, in which he name checks a number of dance steps including the Shingaling, Philly Dog, Memphis Drag, New Orleans Strut, Boston Crab and the California Stomp, as well as folks like James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin.
The overall vibe is like a speed freak take on the Funkadelic sound, not to mention post-Experience Hendrix. There’s a cool drum/bass breakdown about 7 ½ minutes into the track.
Though it probably didn’t have to go on for more than ten minutes, Knight has staying power, and in the end I really dig it.
I hope you do too.
PS Keep your eyes peeled as this Friday I’ll be part of a blogswarm of sorts in commemoration of Vinyl Record Day, which will also be marked at many of the fine blogs in the blogroll including Flea Market Funk, Fufu Stew, the Hits Just Keep On Comin’, the mighty Stepfather of Soul and many others. It promises to be a gas.
PSS I don’t know what I did with the label scan for this one, but you’re not missing much…