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Thread: 1968-04-18 Record Plant, New York City, New York USA

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    1968-04-18 Record Plant, New York City, New York USA

    Thursday, April 18th, 1968

    Long Hot Summer Night


    Musicians/Engineers

    Jimi Hendrix
    Mitch Mitchell
    Noel Redding
    Al Kooper
    -----
    Gary Kellgren
    Chas Chandler


    notes

    This session included 13 or so takes of Long Hot Summer Night with multiple overdubs and mixing of the basic track (take 13). Al Kooper played piano on a few takes.

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    Re: 1968-04-18 Record Plant, New York City, New York USA

    Isn't Buddy Miles the drummer on this track?

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    Re: 1968-04-18 Record Plant, New York City, New York USA

    Mitch: "I'm only going back for about three weeks this time, we've got a couple of concerts to do—but I'm not sure about them. They were held over from our tour. [Troy Armory was the only ‘hold over’ - due to Dr. King’s murder. The other gig was a later booking for the, recently opened, Fillmore East in New York City, a favour to Bill Graham? But then it was a prestigeous gig & they hadn't played a gig for a while, a one off gig which Jimi appeared to enjoy very much, having a laugh with the audience etc. Ed].
    Mainly we're just going to record [ie ELL. Ed.] in the States, because our recording engineer [Eddie Kramer. Ed.] has gone over there permanently. [Not to mention Jimi, Mike, & the Anim office, now or soon to be re-christened ‘Jeffery & Chandler inc.’ Ed.]

    Wednesday 17 April 1968, Record Plant, New York City.
    Eddie Kramer flies to New York to join the team at the newly opened Record Plant Studios, principally to work with Jimi on Electric Ladyland

    Eddie: "In England, if you were successful, people would do their utmost to cut you down," he says. "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.”

    “There I was, an emigré, establishing myself, getting into sessions, figuring out what America was all about. It was quite a challenge, and in the beginning it wasn't easy, but once I got used to the vibe I was flying. I loved it. The culture was so completely different — 'If you do a good job, you're gonna get paid, brother,' — and so was the technology for me, going from four to 12-track and bypassing eight-track completely. Hello. What a wake-up call.”

    "Instead of the Helios I was now sitting down at a Datamix board that was completely foreign to me, in a room that didn't sound the way that I was used to hearing things, and using a 12-track, one-inch Scully machine that was a horrible piece of crap. Good God, it was so noisy, it was horrendous. We scrapped it after the first couple of months and went straight from 12 to 16-track. When the songs we'd recorded at Olympic had been transferred from four-track half-inch to 12-track one-inch, Jimi had said 'Wow, man, now I've got eight more tracks to fuck around with. Cool!' and of course they all got filled up. But then we scrapped the bloody machine after transferring all of the 12-track tapes to 16-track.”

    “That Scullly 12 track was a non-standard machine and technical nightmare. Especially for overdubbing. The punchins were full of clicks, bangs and pops, and they generally sounded like shit.”

    “Eventually, I got used to the Record Plant room, which was just a fairly live rectangular box with a couple of panels on the wall, made of pegboard with a little bit of fibreglass behind them. The control-room window was so thin, and the wall itself was so thin — we had these four huge 15-inch Tannoys mounted above the window, and when Jimi would blast we could hear him through the wall. There was virtually no soundproofing. The room was constructed out of breeze block, there were two thin curtains, and that was it. Very primitive. This was the antithesis of what I'd been used to in England, but nevertheless what we got out of it was magic. The board was fairly flexible: not a great-sounding console, but we made it work."

    (1997 on the re-master): "I've completely screwed it up now [jokes] No, seriously, I'm very proud of it. It sounds really good, the best it's ever sounded. When I listen to the original tapes I love hearing the conversations between myself and Jimi. They're always a lot of fun. He was a funny bloke in the studio, he was hilarious. He was always cracking jokes.”

    (SOS, Nov 2005): "The fact that Jimi really had a great idea of what he wanted to hear enabled us to create sounds for him and enhance what he was giving us. That really helped make Electric Ladyland unique."

    "We would get a week in the studio and then he'd be off, and then we'd get another week or 10 days and again he'd be off. [Bollocks! Ed.]:


    PRODUCING ELECTRIC LADYLAND IN NEW YORK CITY (7th April - 29th July, only played NYC + 8 cities (9 venues, 14 shows) and a couple of weeks holiday in 4 months [113 days])
    One of THE classic rock (etc) albums. (IMHO THE)
    Eight “new” compositions, an old single, two covers & a Noel Redding song that Jimi only added the solo to. Crosstown basic track was recorded in one session on 20-12-67, midway through a 26 day lay off from gigging in London (during which they played one gig, a radio show (1 song), another (5 songs) and a 30min? film shoot (1 solo acoustic song) all in London), some overdubs were added during a session the next day, when it was mostly completed.
    All Along the Watchtower basic track was recorded in one session on 21-02-68, midway through a 20 day lay off from gigging. Jimi made it obvious to Chas that he would be recording the way HE wanted, recording many takes of some songs, inviting friends and aquaintances back from the Scene etc. jamming and having a laugh. Chas gave up as producer. Noel got bored and frustrated and fell out with Jimi. He was absent from several sessions, with Jimi recording the bass part himself, and on Voodoo Chile Jack Cassidy played the bass.
    Mitch: One of the problems with the Electric Ladyland period was that we hardly ever played live while we were recording it. Consequently when we did play live we weren’t as sharp as we might have been.

    Mitch: “The bulk of the recording from then on took place at the Record Plant, in New York. We went there because Gary Kellegran who we’d worked with at Mayfair, had raised the money with a partner and managed to start the Record Plant. I guess we started there, specifically to work on 'Electric Ladyland' around the middle of April 1968 after the first half of the tour with The Soft Machine had finished [It was ‘a’ tour that had finished, one of three that year - for Jimi. He was back home living in New York, USA, again. He was a US citizen with a US passport, any time he left it was just ‘visit’ abroad! The 2nd tour with the Soft Machine visited some of the same cities as the first tour and the last tour (without Soft Machine - who went back home). Ed.]. We block-booked the studio through the night. The usual thing was that late in the evening we'd go down to the Scene to play and hang out and then go round to the studio, which was only a couple of blocks away. Huge amounts of money were spent, not just on studio time, but in stupid things like having limos on call the whole time. We’d have them waiting around outside the Scene for hours, to take us and all our friends and anything that moved, two blocks down the street.
    It was a good studio to work in, different from Olympic which was a big cathedral-like space. The Record Plant was much smaller, but had an excellent sound. It also had a twelve-track and later sixteen-track facility, as against just four at Olympic, which gave Jimi much more space to work in.”

    Noel: “Going on the road for three or four days, coming back into New York, go into the studio for two or three days [how often did that happen & for how many hours a day & why were they there? Ed.] which isn’t very sensible [Exactly, that’s why Jimi took a load of time off touring to produce Axis and four months off for ELL! Ed.]
    Gerry: “Many of the sessions were just an expensive way to have fun.” [Especially the later sessions at TTG! Ed.]
    Eddie: “The hangers-on became a problem. They became a problem for Chas, and certainly for me. Sessions would be tough, because Jimi couldn’t say no to his buddies. He’d have invited the street sweeper and the cleaning lady and the record company president with him.”
    Trixie: “Chas [she could add: Noel & Eddie] didn’t like the hangers on, but they were Jimi’s hangers on [ie ‘friends’? Ed.], and so it was Jimi’s decision to have them out [at the studio]…”
    Gerry: “Considering it’s still selling twenty five years later, I think everybody got their money’s worth, and all those people [ie Reprise (Mo), Chas, Noel, Eddie] who got frustrated by the length of time [etc.], should sit and say: “I was wrong.” [Hear! Hear!]
    JMcD: “Oh, Chris and Gary loved Jimi [laughs]. At the end of the day it was like, ‘Just keep stacking those tapes up, fellas. Let him be in there as long as he wants to.’ Because they’d be able to say, ‘Hey, we got the top guy at our facility.’ And the bills always got paid. It wasn’t like they had to chase someone to get paid. Jimi paid his bills.
    It never went through the record company. It drove his management and his accountant crazy, but the bills went to his management company, and they paid for all those sessions.”
    [McD doesn’t say where he got this info from, so it’s debateable that Warners didn’t contribute. Jimi didn’t have a ‘mangement company’ he just had two managers, unless he’s referring to Yameta? Why would his accountant care? If true it looks like the two months of heavy touring he did just prior to producing ELL went largely towards paying for the ELL sessions, as all earnings from record sales were being held in escrow]

    EK: There I was, an emigré, establishing myself, getting into sessions, figuring out what America was all about. It was quite a challenge, and in the beginning it wasn't easy, but once I got used to the vibe I was flying. I loved it. The culture was so completely different — 'If you do a good job, you're gonna get paid, brother,' — and so was the technology for me, going from four to 12-track and bypassing eight-track completely. Hello. What a wake-up call.
    Instead of the Helios I was now sitting down at a Datamix board that was completely foreign to me, in a room that didn't sound the way that I was used to hearing things, and using a 12-track, one-inch Scully machine that was a horrible piece of crap. Good God, it was so noisy, it was horrendous. We scrapped it after the first couple of months and went straight from 12 to 16-track. When the songs we'd recorded at Olympic had been transferred from four-track half-inch to 12-track one-inch, Jimi had said 'Wow, man, now I've got eight more tracks to fuck around with. Cool!' and of course they all got filled up. But then we scrapped the bloody machine after transferring all of the 12-track tapes to 16-track.
    So, for instance, 'All Along The Watchtower', which had started four-track in England, was transferred onto the Scully and then the first Ampex 16-track, which was actually not a bad machine. In fact, listen to any of the tracks on that album and the lack of hiss is so apparent. That's down to the way we hit the tape — we hit it very hard and got all the necessary compression that came with it. Also, what with all the intensity that was going on, there was a fair amount of signal on the tape, and that really helped. It was quite a journey.
    Eventually, I got used to the Record Plant room, which was just a fairly live rectangular box with a couple of panels on the wall, made of pegboard with a little bit of fibreglass behind them. The control-room window was so thin, and the wall itself was so thin — we had these four huge 15-inch Tannoys mounted above the window, and when Jimi would blast we could hear him through the wall. There was virtually no soundproofing. The room was constructed out of breeze block, there were two thin curtains, and that was it. Very primitive. This was the antithesis of what I'd been used to in England, but nevertheless what we got out of it was magic. The board was fairly flexible: not a great-sounding console, but we made it work."

    EK:"Once Jimi got to the States I think his whole attitude changed towards what he was looking for musically. I don't know whether this was aimed at having Chas leave — one could never tell — but there was definitely tension between them. Chas liked to run his sessions in a very strict, formal manner, without wasting time. He'd say 'We're here to work. The hangers-on must leave,' and it was left to me or Chas to tell the hangers-on to take a hike. Well, I guess that caused some friction and eventually Chas couldn't really take it any more. He hated wasting time, and if Jimi wanted to do 30 takes it would drive him nuts.

    "Chas was the boss. Not musically, per se, but the boss in terms of not allowing any wasted time, and I think the restrictions he placed on Jimi for the first two albums were really good. I don't necessarily agree with what happened on the Electric Ladyland sessions, but without Chas there would have been no huge superstar. To start with, Chas recognised Jimi's talent, and then he was able to corral that raw talent and develop it and encourage it. He would sit with Jimi every night, helping him to write lyrics and helping him with the song structures, encouraging him to write. However, during that third album the sessions took their own course, and Jimi, with his strong vision, just allowed things to happen in a very casual way.
    Now, having said that, I also feel very strongly that he had a master plan, and as chaotic as it may have seemed to an outside observer it was actually quite well thought out. The classic example of this was 'Voodoo Chile', which was really created as a jam but a very, very calculated jam. I mean, after Chas left [the project], Jimi had wonderful aid and assistance from a quite unlikely source: the Scene club which was, fortunately for him, around the corner from the Record Plant. Having booked the session for seven o'clock, we'd be sitting there, tapping our fingers on the desk and twiddling our thumbs, wondering when he was going to show up. After he'd done this a few times we all knew this was Jimi's way of working. He'd be over at the Scene at 10 and show up at the studio at 12 or one, dragging behind him an entourage that included musicians whom he had sussed out as being the key players to try out that evening.
    You see, he had a specific plan in mind. There was a certain sound he was looking for, and he'd eyeball the musicians very carefully to make sure that they were going to be compatible with what he wanted to do. Generally speaking, he got the cream of the crop, because at that time, 1968, there were some phenomenal musicians around, and 'Voodoo Chile' was a classic example of Jimi figuring 'OK, I'm gonna get these guys in to play this particular song'. He'd bring them in at midnight or whenever, and everything would be ready: the amps, the mics, the headphones — I'd tested everything. Then he'd show them the song, and there'd be one run-through and one take, maybe two. Bam! It was done. So, to the outside observer there were the hangers-on and the whole rigmarole with onlookers, and sometimes that made it a bit challenging to work, but it never detracted from Jimi's goal. Chas may have commented 'Oh, he's playing to the gallery,' but it didn't seem to bother Jimi. In fact, it probably encouraged him to play more to the gallery, because maybe that was the vibe he was looking for.
    Chas was absolutely essential to Jimi's development as a writer and as a performer, as well as in terms of putting the band together, producing the records and giving Jimi the necessary discipline to come up with the goods. But with the Electric Ladyland album his role diminished as soon as the sessions moved to the States. You could tell there was a sea change in Jimi's behaviour, in his attitude and so on. I think the album as a whole has a journeyish feeling to it — and I'm not referring to the band, for Chrissakes. It rambles a bit, but it rambles with a purpose. And I love how there are so many different moods. Of all of Jimi's albums, it's the one that has the most moodiness — to some people it represents the most fun that you could have on a record. I mean, it was very daring to make a double album with all that experimentation. That was making a statement in 1968. And although it was looser than his previous records, it had a purpose, it had a focus. The purpose was 'Let's be loose!'
    I think this was Jimi expressing himself for the first time, completely unfettered. He could basically do anything he wanted — it was his album, from soup to nuts, and while it bears the stamp of Chas on some of the songs it very much shows Jimi's freedom in the creative process; the freedom to do a 14-minute opus like '1983...' Taking a chance to do something like that was very '60s.
    [Hendrix recorded all of his vocals for the album at the Record Plant, and as usual a Beyer M160 was the mic of choice while a three-sided screen provided him with the desired privacy.] He'd always face the other way, he hated to be looked at. He was very shy about his vocals. The truth was, he had a great style and I loved his vocals, but he hated them. He was so embarrassed by them. 'Oh man, was that OK?' 'Yeah man, it's cool.' 'No, I've got to do another one.' 'OK.' Jimi was not a great vocalist in the classic sense, but his vocal style suited what he did to the nth degree. I mean, it was very emotional and very personal, and I can't think of anybody else doing what he did. He was eminently capable, and the singing was an integral part of what he was doing, because he would often take a guitar solo and sing the melody line in unison with that solo — which is an old jazz trick — and it was wonderful. So, for that matter, was the constantly evolving 'All Along The Watchtower', recorded in consecutive layers: acoustic guitars, drums, bass and electric lead taped at Olympic, before the vocal and percussion overdubs took place in New York. What's amazing to me is how the original four-track punches through so much at the end. Jimi's loping bass line doesn't have any top end to it at all — it's just round and lovely — and you can hear him moving around on the bass as if it were a guitar. You see, he could play pretty much anything — the piano, a bit of drums. It was feel over technique in that department, whereas with stringed instruments like bass and guitar he was magnificent.
    When it came to the mix it was a case of Jimi and I doing it together and just making it sound as commercial as we possibly could. At least, that's what I was going for with the judicious use of compression and EQ and reverb. That's what we had at our disposal and I think it worked — that reverb on the offbeat is just one example.
    When you recorded four-track you really had to have your act together, and during the mix you knew you just couldn't screw it up, because this was the final one. In the transfer from the first four down to the two tracks of the next four-track machine, that first pass had to be absolutely spot-on. Of course, you could go back and remix it, but you wanted to avoid that if all possible. So, you just had to have it all there, and thank God we were taught correctly by great mentors: people like Bob Auger at Pye and Keith Grant at Olympic. They were really great teachers. You just rehearsed a song and got it right, got the EQ, got the compression, got all the bloody bits and pieces in there. And you knew in the final analysis that when you added the extra two tracks and bounced back to the first four tracks and then maybe went back one more time, all of those stages along the road had to be absolutely spot-on.
    When I listen to those tapes now I'm still amazed that we actually got what we got. In the moment we didn't give a damn about convention or anything, we just did it, and tape was running most of the time. Occasionally we'd edit together takes, but not so much with Jimi. Mixes we would splice together, and there'd be lots of panning and loads of cups of tea, but his performances were pretty damned complete.

    EK: "His whole career was an artistic high point [not just Electric Ladyland]. I think he really loved the record, although he was pissed at the fact that we were not allowed to go to the mastering. We gave it to the crew over at Columbia and they completely screwed it up, because they didn't know what to do with the phase content and all of that. It was subsequently remastered at Warners."

    "When I listen to those tapes now I'm still amazed that we actually got what we got. In the moment we didn't give a damn about convention or anything, we just did it, and tape was running most of the time. Occasionally we'd edit together takes, but not so much with Jimi. Mixes we would splice together, and there'd be lots of panning and loads of cups of tea, but his performances were pretty damned complete."


    “If it has ever been suggested that Jimi Hendrix was not prepared, this refutes that in the sense that Jimi had a real solid grasp of what he wanted to do. The artwork, the process, the fine details of it, it’s an example of how Jimi’s mind worked. There are very few artists like that.”

    Noel: “In this climate [ie ‘It was with feelings’] of mistrust and doubt, that we [ ie ‘I’ (speak for yourself Noel, you were the one tht had been doing all the poking around, whinging about Jimi etc. and being paranoid!)]

    Thursday 18 April 1968, Record Plant, New York City.
    The sessions begin
    Jimi - vocal, guitar & bass, Al Kooper – piano, Mitch Mitchell – drums
    Producer: Chas Chandler
    Engineer: Gary Kellgren

    Long Hot Summer Night (13 takes) - unreleased
    Long Hot Summer Night (take 14) (1, 4)

    Al Kooper: “Jimi and I shared the same music publishers. We had also jammed at the Generation Club together. At the session for 'Long Hot Summer Night,' I played piano rather than organ. Jimi saw me fooling around with one of his Stratocasters and he offered the guitar to me as a gift. I refused, but he later had the guitar shipped to my home."

    “I kept it for 22 years. It was a magic axe. But there was too much word of it and my house got broken into twice, so I loudly sold it to a Japanese guitar broker in 1991, I believe. Didn’t make sense to have that guitar locked in a vault, just to own it. I wanted someone to play it all the time.”

    “Dylan was an advocate of ‘no overdubs’. Everything played on Highway 61 and Blonde On Blonde was recorded at the same time, all musicians in the room. It seems that Are You Experienced was in that same mode. I believe that was the only one Chas Chandler helmed. Once Eddie Kramer got in there, I felt there were excesses on occasion. I understand the concept of ‘felt’ (Hendrix had explained that Kooper’s piano was ‘there to be FELT and not HEARD’). In retrospect, I think it’s one of his lesser compositions, and the track itself is way overproduced. The difference between the earthiness of his first album and then all the rest kinda speaks for itself.”

    “The myth always perseveres. It’s hit and myth. He was a gentle, shy guy, basically, who donned his character when he slipped his Strat on. I rate him extremely highly. When he came on the scene, it was a slap on the head to Clapton, Townshend and Bloomfield. Hendrix had not only pushed the envelope, but put a stamp on it and mailed it special delivery. And it’s that special delivery that assures him legendary status ‘til the end of time.
    Pretty darn good dresser, too, I’d say!”
    Last edited by stplsd; 10-31-16 at 10:17 AM.
    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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