Choice Cuts Vol.9- Hendrix and Tony Joe White
It is once again time for me to reach back in the refrigerator for some "choice cuts". Each time, I will be featuring sizzling and succulent morsels that are grabbing my ear right now that range from funk to country, from afro-beat to garage rock, etc. Sometimes there will be a theme to these songs that ties them all together in a nice bow, but other times the songs featured will just be a musical hodgepodge of eclectic delights. Without further ado, lets see what "choice cuts" the vinyl butcher has prepared for us today.
Jimi Hendrix- World Traveler
From: Freak Out Jam [Ubik, 1994]
Several years ago I was listening to some music on a clunky old laptop that was about to give up the ghost when I stumbled upon this amazing funk jam from Jimi Hendrix called "World Traveler". While the guitars definitely had that patented Hendrix sound, the rhythm section sounded more like the Meters or JB's. Taken from a bootleg released in 1994, the songs contained on Freak Out Jam were gathered from random live sessions between 1967-70. I had lost sight of this track since hearing it that day, but was able to find it again thanks to the Last.fm website tracking the songs I played by Hendrix since 2006.
This jam, "World Traveler," was recorded straight from the soundboard at the Record Plant on 5-14-69. The opening guitar riff sounds like classic Hendrix, but then the rhythm section kicks in with a funky get-down-and-party vibe that will definitely make you nod your head. Along with the tight bass and drums, the organ playing adds another dimension to the groove until the vocals are finally introduced at around the three minute mark of the song. Hendrix's guitar playing is understated on the track, almost acting as an accompaniment to the groove rather than the focal point of the song. In fact, there are really only a couple brief guitar solos in the song that never lose sight of the groove. Right around the five minute mark of the song, the rhythm section's playing is so tight that it's virtually impossible to sit still while listening to it. If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Hendrix recorded with the JB's or the Meters, you should check this out!
Tony Joe White- Stud Spider
From: Tony Joe [Monument, 1970]
This was another track that I heard first on the stellar Hot Fudge Sundazzze show on the free-form radio station in Portland called XRAY. Tony Joe White is a name that escaped me up to that point, aside from the upbeat swamp-funk track called "Polk Salad Annie".
"Stud Spider" is the kind of song that perfectly encapsulates what the Choice Cuts series is all about. It's the kind of song that will never get old to your ears, and it hits you way down deep in your soul and sticks there forever. The 2-second break-beat that opens the track is perfect for hip-hop heads, and then White whispers the title of the song in a sultry way that gets under your skin. The first verse of the track features White talking about a black widow who has him trapped in her web. His delivery goes from cool, calm and collected to a guttural roar by the end of the verse. All the while, the band steadily holds it down as the sound of a wah-wah guitar starts bubbling slightly below the surface. You can tell that the Black Keys were influenced by the part that takes place at the 2:27 mark of the song, as this particular guitar sound is prevalent in much of their earlier material. Then, at the 3 minute mark, all the music drops out and White says "Here She Comes, she comes on me... the black widow". Right around the 4 minute mark, all of the music drops out again, and just when it appears like the song is about to end, the wah-wah guitar is intensified and takes center stage for the next 10-15 seconds while the rhythm just keeps on grooving until the track fades out.
I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Choice Cuts, and I would love to hear what you think of the tracks I've shared with you today!