Original Booklet Notes for MCA's 1994 JIMI HENDRIX :BLUES CD

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"The content of the old blues was singing about sex," noted Jimi, "problems with their old ladies, and booze. Now people are saying so much more with music, music is such an important thing now, people have to realize that. The background of our music is a spiritual blues thing. The reflection of the world is like blues. Most people believe that to be a good blues musician, one has to suffer. I don't believe this. I just like the sound of the blues. When I hear certain notes, I feel real happy. Sometimes it gets to be really easy to sing the blues when you're supposed to be making all this money, 'cause money is getting to be out of hand now. So therefore you can sing a whole lot of blues; the more money you make, the more blues, sometimes, you can sing. The blues are easy to play but not to feel. If you can play the music, okay. Whether you are black, white or purple, if somebody likes your music enough to be inspired by it, then that's fine. It's silly to say this kind of music can only be played by colored people. Really, some people seem to think from their kneecaps. Color just doesn't make any difference. Everybody has some kind of blues to offer. Look at Elvis. He used to sing better when he sang the blues than when he started singing that beach party stuff. He could sing the blues, and he's white. It's hard for me to think in terms of blues anymore, so many groups are riding the blues bandwagon. Blues groups today that might be classic groups tomorrow. But the blues will never die. Blues is a part of America. It means Elmore James and Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson, he's so cool. It means Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. Now, someone is going to laugh about Bo Diddley being in there, but if you want the backbone of the real pioneering thing which Clapton and others are into, that's it.

Jimi & Steve Stills

When music goes too far out and is in danger of becoming a technique, people always come back to basic honesty. That's why the blues and country and western are at the foundations of our popular music. Blues is basic; so too is a lot of the country music. So you get these two things there at the roots of what's going on. But like for the blues, man, I wrote millions of 'em."

HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN' (by Jimi Hendrix). Recorded in Bruce Fleming's London photo studio on Dec. 19, 1967. Jimi was handed an acoustic guitar and asked to play something for the cameras. The treble figures of his blues are reminiscent of Big Fat Mama by Tommy Johnson (1928), while the chords and bass runs are in the style of Johnson's Big Road Blues (1928). Train hops along with rhythm bops in the vain of Ishman Gracey's Saturday Blues (1928). Jimi's E-chord plucking evokes Devil Got My Woman (1931) by Skip James, and his hummed solo echos James in Hard Time Killing Floor Blues (1931), which also ends like Hear My Train A Comin'. Hendrix hums the blues in the style of John Lee Hooker's Whistin' And Moanin' (1949). "I don't consider myself playing the blues until I sing a song which says the blues," Jimi explained, Robert Johnson and all those cats, that sort of music gets the message over and comes through so easily." In autumn 1993 the original tape reel of Hear My Train was located and mastered for this release.

Jimi & Buddy

BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN (by Booker T. Jones & William Bell). On Dec. 15, 1969, five days after his Toronto courtroom acquittal on drug possession charges, Jimi was back in the Record Plant with A Band Of Gypsys. Bob Cotto and R. Beekman were the engineers as the Gypsys paid tribute to Albert King. Larry Coryell recalls, "I watched Jimi at a jam session with Buddy Miles. There was an Albert King record out at the time whose solos he could sing note for note. Jimi and Buddy - I watched them sing along with Albert King together. That blew my mind. They went note for note, phrase for phrase, just perfectly."

RED HOUSE (by Jimi Hendrix). Recorded by the JHE in London at CBS Studios on Dec. 13, 1966. Mike Ross was the engineer. Jimi's first blues composition begins with 7th chord harmony heard at the start of Robert Johnson tunes like Dead Shrimp Blues (1936), Kind Hearted Woman (1936), and 32-30 Blues (1936). But his urban solos are rooted more in performances like California Nights by Albert King (1962), and Louise by Hubert Sumlin (1964), while Red House lyrics touch on images in the vain of The Sky Is Crying by Elmore James (1959). "Cats I like now are Albert King and Elmore James," claimed Jimi, "but if you try to copy them, want to play something note for note - especially a solo or a certain run that lasts over three seconds - your mind starts wandering. Therefore, you dig them and then do your own thing." This Red House originally appeared on the British AYE? album in 1967 and is here released in the west for the first time.

Noel recalls, "Red House was Jimi's way of using his musical roots, everything he knew and understood best, in a pop context."

Billy Cox adds, "As far as I know, Red House didn't have any significance in reference to a particular person, place or thing. It was just a blues number that Jimi put together. There are recurring blues themes that are constantly sung about - a red rooster, a red light, a red house...you got your low-down dirty blues and your regular 'uptown' blues. Now, regular blues weren't that suggestive; our parents wouldn't unplug their radio to B.B. King's Sweet 16.

But if you brought into the house something like Hoochie Coochie Man or Big Leg Woman, or even Jimi Hendrix's Red House, you know; 'If my baby don't love me/I know her sister will' - that's low down blues, man, where your morality is in jeopardy and you're subject to getting your radio pulled out or your record broken!"

November 1967

CATFISH BLUES (Traditional, arranged by Jimi Hendrix). Recorded by the JHE at Vitus Studios, Bussem, Holland on Nov. 10, 1967. In concert Jimi often introduced Catfish as "Muddy Waters blues", but its origins go back to field hollers pre-dating blues recordings. Jimi described catfish as "a fish that you can see in the Mississippi River." A recorded evolution of Catfish Blues "floating verses" and riffs traces the course of Delta performers: Rollin' and Tumblin' Blues by Hambone Willie Newburn (1929), If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day by Robert Johnson (1936), Catfish Blues by Robert Petway (1940), Deep Sea Bluesby Tommy McLennan (1942), Rolling Stone by Muddy Waters (1950), Still A Fool by Muddy Waters (1951), and Oh Yeah by Bo Diddley (1958). Jimi concludes his blues collage by quoting two Delta riffs that were staples for Cream in 1967: Cat's Squirrel by Dr. Ross (1959) and All I Want Is A Spoonful by Papa Charlie Jackson (1925), later adapted as Spoonful by Willie Dixon (1960) for Howlin' Wolf. Usually Jimi would also throw in some verses of Rollin' and Tumblin' by Muddy Waters (1950).