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Thread: 1968-01-21 Olympic Studios, London, England

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    1968-01-21 Olympic Studios, London, England

    Sunday, January 21st, 1967

    All Along the Watchtower (24 takes)


    Musicians/Engineers

    Jimi Hendrix
    Noel Redding
    Mitch Mitchell
    Dave Mason (of Traffic)
    -----
    Eddie Kramer
    Andy Johns
    George Chkiantz



    notes

    24 takes were performed, they then prepared a four-to-four reduction mix, on which the group then preformed 2 more takes before the basic track had been realized. A rough mix was then prepared.

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    Re: 1968-01-21 Olympic Studios, London, England

    Sunday 21 January 1968, Olympic Sound Studios, London.
    Neville: “RECORDING DAVE MASON
    Got up at 10.00 had to go to recording studio, had some tea left 10.30, arrived studio 11.00 took drums in there was no one there. Found out that recording was not till 5.00. Went back to flat Terri put chicken in oven. We had chicken 2.00 it was very good. Watched T.V. film Oliver Twist good film had to go to recording studio at 5.00. Set rest of gear up At Recording. Dave Mason Brian Jones Jimi Mitch stayed ‘til 9.00 their [..]reached off. Van wasn’t running too well.”
    Jimi – vocal, guitar & bass, Mitch Mitchell drums, Dave Mason acoustic guitar, Brian Jones piano & percussion
    Producer: Chas Chandler
    Engineers: Eddie Kramer, Andy Johns and George Chkiantz

    All Along The Watchtower (rehearsals)*
    Eddie: “It’s great how Jimi is telling Mitch exactly where to put the bass drum part, because he knows instinctively what the rhythm should be.”
    All Along The Watchtower (24 takes)
    Eddie: “We obviously have a visitor, none other than Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, stumbled by the session, decided to help out and play some piano, but-eh, I think he valiantly tried for a couple of takes and then-um, as we can hear it was abandoned and they went back to cutting the basic track without him.”
    All Along The Watchtower (master, overdubs, rough mix) - (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 16)

    *Brief snippets of these appeared on Lifelines (A 327) and the ‘Classic Albums - Electric Ladyland’ documentary

    Noel: “He did All Along the Watchtower didn’t he... That was when we were having a few problems within the band already. And-eh, I said I didn’t like the tune heh-heh....I preferred Dylan’s version ha-ha-ha.”

    Mitch: “...and Bob Dylan's 'All Along The Watchtower' which were transferred to sixteen-track in New York later on.”

    “Jimi had obviously just heard ‘Watchtower’ and just fancied doing it. I-I’d never heard it before. It was virtually like, a quick play through, maybe of the original. But it was the usual thing, just strum the guitar and, ‘This is how it goes’....”

    “Eh, I think Noel was over the road at the Red Lion, or the Green Cow, or-heh-heh, whatever it was.”

    “All Along The Watchtower' is a classic example of Hendrix's bass-playing. Even being left-handed he had no problem picking up a right-handed bass — he just had the touch. I think Noel had got pissed off and was across the road in the pub — but the track didn't suffer.”

    Dave Mason: “Jimi played his six-string and-eh, we just sat opposite each other, and-eh, there was just, there was just eh, and Mitch. So we put it down with just the acoustic guitar and Mitch Mitchell.”

    Velvert Turner: “I saw Jimi frustrated running around trying to get a sound out that he had in his head and not being able to do it and grabbing different gui’-bottles, beer bottles, eh, soda bottles, eh, knives an’ everything. Trying to get the-that middle section where there’s a Hawaiian guitar sound.”

    Dave Mason: “No, he just played that with a cigarette lighter.”

    Eddie Kramer: “He would keep in his flight bag a Bob Dylan songbook and refer to it on a daily basis. He loved Bob Dylan.... This is a great example of Jimi’s ability to orchestrate, direct and really focus on the attention on all the intricacies of the song...”

    “[While Hendrix's amp was screened off in the studio and miked with Neumann U67s, Mitch Mitchell's kit was positioned on a riser within a roofed, open-sided booth to give it depth and miked with a combination of U67s and AKG C12s.]
    Initially there was no bass, Jimi just played a six-string acoustic guitar while Traffic's Dave Mason played 12-string and Mitch was on drums. That's how Jimi wanted to cut it, and as a result the track had a marvellous, light feel thanks to the acoustic guitars that were driving it. Jimi not only loved the lyrics but also the chord sequences of 'All Along The Watchtower', and he just gave them a terrific bed to do a nice solo. He also showed Mitch how to turn the beat around on the intro, but Dave Mason couldn't get it together and he was up to about take 20 when [Rolling Stone] Brian Jones walked in. Actually, let me correct that: he staggered in. He was completely out of his brain. Poor Brian, he was a good mate of Jimi's and we all loved him. Jimi could never say no to his mates, and Brian was so sweet. He came in and said 'Oh, let me play,' and he got on the piano, it was take 21, and we could just hear 'clang, clang, clang, clang, clang...' It was all bloody horrible and out of time, and Jimi said 'Uh, I don't think so.' Brian was gone after two takes. He practically fell on the floor in the control room... Dear Brian.
    It actually took about 27 takes to get the track going because Dave Mason couldn't get it together, but eventually he did and that was all that mattered. Jimi was driving the train. He always drove the train, whatever he was doing, and he had a magical ability, bar none, to take other people's material and make it his own. In fact, he also played bass on this track. When he said that's what he wanted to do, Noel [Redding] pissed off to the pub. He didn't want to know.
    Recording was always a learning process for Jimi, so each take would be different, and for 'All Along The Watchtower' there was no real rehearsal. Jimi just wanted to record the song. He loved Bob Dylan and he always carried his songbook with him. In this case, he was fascinated by the colour of the lyrics and the tone of the lyrics, and of course the chord sequences were wonderful, too. It was a very special song.

    Chas: “He liked the latter day Dylan I liked the early day Dylan, but between the two of us there was somewhat, meeting of minds there.”

    Richard Buskin: “[What] techniques [did you] use to record Hendrix's guitar?
    Eddie Kramer: "I'd stick a bloody mic in front of it and hope for the best. [joke] Nah, generally speaking it was either a 67 or [a Beyer] M160 or a combination of both, which I still use today. It might be slightly different, of course, but the basic principle's the same — a ribbon and a condenser, along with compression and EQ and reverb. All that stuff was always added during recording.
    [After the acoustic guitars, drums, bass and lead guitar for 'All Along The Watchtower' had been tracked, the Electric Ladyland sessions switched location to the US. Hendrix wanted to move back there, and when Record Plant owner Gary Kellgren invited me to come work at his newly opened studio in New York City, I jumped at the opportunity. I was, after all, ready for a change.] In England, if you were successful, people would do their utmost to cut you down. Nobody appreciated you — 'Oh, you flash bastard. How dare you make £95 a week when I'm making £50.' I couldn't stand that attitude and to this day it makes me very angry. I didn't feel at all appreciated."

    “All Along The Watchtower” that was an interesting track-um, by virtue of the fact that-um, there was some contention as to how to play the acoustic guitar. Jimi played the six string acoustic, there was no bass, ‘cause-eh, Noel, eh Redding, who was the bass player, he got a bit cheesed off because, ahm, he had-ah some sort of disagreement with Jimi, and he went to the pub. Ah, and so Jimi was going to play bass. So, it was: Mitch Mitchell on drums; Jimi Hendrix on acoustic guitar; and who was the secondary guitar player playing twelve string? Non other than, ah Dave Mason from Traffic, and so Jimi was yelling at him because he couldn’t get the straight chords right, they’d ‘shrang! shrang! shrang!’ Couldn’t get them right, and then he was, Jimi was yelling at-eh Mitch, ahm, saying, “Oi! come on! can’t you get the. . .” He didn’t say, “Oi”, but he did say, “Hey, man, can you try, we’ve got to flip the time around,” and Mitch was having a tremendous difficulty. But-ah, and then-eh, about take twenty we got-ehm, a-a piano player suddenly appeared, and it was-heh, Brian Jones drunk out-of-his-mind, ha-ha-ha, okay? so that was how that track started.

    “Jimi used the studio as a rehe’-as a reh’-rehearsal room, mh-hmh! But the tape was running, ah, so it was a rather expensve way of doing reheasals. But he didn’t care, because he just, you know, he was Jimi Hendrix, an’, you know, 'Just run up the bloody bills.'
    Which is one of the reasons why we [...] bright and early after which was [rest?]..."
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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