The Concert

When it comes to music, I am a man of faith: I believe there is a God and there’s a devil, I believe in souls and immortality and in fatalism. Philosophically, I am a hardcore determinist (again, only with regards to music). That’s probably why I prefer soul and blues to classical compositions or to impressive technically hard worked perfectionism that you sometimes see/hear in classic heavy rock. Music is my escape from the overly rational and reason-orientated life that I try to encourage and live.

That been said…

I HAVE IT! The concerts of concerts, the concert of the best and the best of the concerts, the concert for which the concept of a concert was invented, the reason why, whenever it happened, the word “concert” was first pronounced. If everything was created for a reason, then the word “concert” was made for the ultimate purpose to refer to this event: 1968 at Steve Paul’s The Scene, N.Y.C., Jimi Hendrix jams for God knows how long and plays probably the most astonishing tunes possible. Joined on scene by a very drunk/high and unintelligible (except for when he swears) Jim Morrison, Hendrix does what he knows best: reinvents blues songs in a personal way that cannot be matched. I am incapable of describing how brilliant I think Hendrix was and this concert sounds. And now I finally have it, on vinyl. Not the best quality, not the clearest sound, not the perfect recording. But the perfect concert.

This recording stems from 1968 in the Scene Club, owened incidentally by Steve Paul, Johnny Winter’s manager. Jimi was a frequent visitor here because he loved the atmosphere and also loved to jam and as he always had a tape machine on hand, that night was captured forever, giving an insight to Jimi’s blues side, which he always reverted to when playing without any commercial pressures.

Tony Brown, Back Cover of TNK,  Sept. 1980

 The record does not include the whole concert, or at least it doesn’t seem like it. The bits included are probably what was intelligible enough to put on a disc. The record on its own has a crazy story: the tapes were recorded by Jimi, went from hand to hand, copies where made and conflicts arose. Wikipedia has Bleeding Heart as the official release title and  “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Sky High”, “Live at the Scene Club”, “Red House”, “New York Sessions” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” as unofficial titles. I have the German edition of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, with a cover in very shit condition, but, hell, who cares? the disc is fine. The A-Side is taken up by three songs: a relaxed, yet “faster” version of Red HouseWoke Up This Morning and Found Myself Dead/Wake Up This Morning and You Find Yourself Dead, and the awesome cover of Bleeding Heart (which should still be playing in the background while you are reading this).

 I heard Jim threw his arms around Jimi’s legs in a sodden embrace and then somehow blundered in a table with drinks on it….a table where Janis was sitting.

A commentator at this YT video

(if it ain’t true, it should be)

But it’s the B-Side that will blow your mind away. Well, that’s if you can ignore Morrison’s delirium and swearing, to enjoy it requires an effort that comes possible only with the consumption of illegal substances. The guitar riffs and solo that Jimi does throughout the first three songs (Morrison’s Lament, Tomorrow Never Knows and Uranus Rocks) have a power of their own. If the Piper’s incantation had a secret formula, Jimi found it and build this jam around it. In comparison, Page’s solo from Stairway is a decent opening act.

Outside Woman Blues is a more spacey, futuristic kinda continuation of the first three songs of B-Side. The closing song – a final effort – is one of Hendrix’s favourite tunes to cover: Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love.

The identity of the other musicians is highly disputed. Johnny Winter (of whom I am embarrassed to say I know little) has been credited with rhythm guitar on the record, but he denied being at the club when this concert happened, saying he never met Morrison in person. Randy Hobbs is supposedly on bass (though some say Noel Redding was present and played) and a Randy Zehringer on drums.

The Club itself has an impressive story: Andy Warhol and his gang used to hang out there, The Doors played for three weeks in a row, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd are some of the names that also played and Linda soon-to-be McCartney was a usual. Unfortunately, the 301 West 46th Street club was shut voluntarily by the owner in 1970. Wikipedia has it that “the closure was prompted by Steve Paul’s refusal to pay protection money to the New York Mafia. This resulted in fights being started at the club, placing its liquor license in jeopardy”.

 I end my own lament with the “important note” on the back cover of the “Tomorrow Never Knows” record:

The music contained herein has been left as it was that night at the Scene club, – rough, but with the raw dynamism of Jimi’s guitar to the fore. Extolling the licks of his mentors – the Delta Blues and Alberts’ King and Collins. Also present is Jim Morrison, cavorting about the stage exceedingly drunk and happy, much to the bemusement of everyone! Jimi’s playing  is pure fingerwork, no foot pedals or devices used and we have a rare glimpse of a much lamented figure, playing not for a commercially orientated audience, but for his own enjoyment.

 As always, I hope you’ll enjoy this recommendation 🙂