Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jimi Hendrix - 1971 - Rainbow Bridge

Jimi Hendrix 
Rainbow Bridge

01. Dolly Dagger (4:45)
02. Earth Blues (4:20)
03. Pali Gap (5:05)
04. Room Full of Mirrors (3:17)
05. Star Spangled Banner (4:07)
06. Look Over Yonder (3:28)
07. Hear My Train A Comin' (11:15)
08. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) (6:05)

Jimi Hendrix / guitars, lead & backing (1,2) vocals

Billy Cox / bass, backing vocals (2)
Mitch Mitchell / drums
Noel Redding / bass (6)
Buddy Miles / drums (4,10,11), backing vocals (2)
Juma Sultan / percussion (1,3,8)
The Ghetto Fighters (Albert & Arthur Allen) / backing vocals (1)
The Ronettes (Veronica & Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley) / backing vocals (2)

Despite the sub-title, the 2nd Hendrix studio album released after his death is not a soundtrack but a compilation of recordings made in 1969/70, in various stages of development and never finalized for release by Hendrix. All songs have been reissued on later albums.

“Rainbow Bridge” was the second posthumous album released by Jimi Hendrix. Once again, the tracks were mixed/finished off by Eddie Kramer and Mitch Mitchell with John Jansen this time. I seem to remember it was released by Reprise Records – Hendrix’s American record label rather than Track (Hendrix’s UK record label) – anyway, it came out in 1971 some 9 months after “The Cry Of Love”.

It is not as good as “The Cry Of Love” but “Rainbow Bridge” is still a fine record. It starts with “Dolly Dagger” – which lyrically is a bit daft, but that doesn’t matter because it is really great. That and the next track – “Earth Blues” eventually appeared on “First Rays Of The New Rising Sun”, as did “Room Full Of Mirrors” and the closing “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)”. All are excellent, especially “Room Full Of Mirrors” although it does sort of peter out – maybe, if he had lived, Hendrix would have made a better job of it. I am not sure if Hendrix actually intended all of them for “First Rays Of The New Rising Sun” – Buddy Miles plays drums on “Room Full Of Mirrors”, Mitch Mitchell on the other three. Bass is the extremely reliable and rather underestimated Billy Cox with Juma Sultan on percussion. The Ronettes somewhat surprisingly sing backing vocals on “Earth Blues” and The Ghetto Fighters do the same on “Dolly Dagger”. 

So what else is on “Rainbow Bridge”? Well, there is a fine studio version of “Star Spangled Banner”  - Hendrix’s alternative anthem for the counter-culture. Then rather oddly as there were still a couple of “First Rays Of The New Rising Sun” tracks not yet released at the time “Rainbow Bridge” came out, “Look Over Yonder” which was recorded by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968, although Hendrix had played it since 1966 – I don’t think it is that good. Better is the instrumental, “Pali Gap” recorded in July 1970 with Cox & Mitchell. I don’t think it is just my imagination, but it sounds to me if Jimi is saying, “anything Senor Santana can do, I can far far better!”

Finally there is an 11-minute plus live version of “Hear My Train A-Coming” recorded live on 30th May at Berkeley. It is a blues tour-de-force. – Stunning stuff.

So how come this album is sub-titled “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”? Well, Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffrey got involved in financing a film called “Rainbow Bridge” and material from this album was used as incidental music. Also because the film is “a complete load of rubbish with hippies sitting round talking bollocks” (a friend who saw it described it thus) Jeffrey persuaded Hendrix to play a concert on 30th July 1970 to be in the film. Despite the film being sold on his name, there are only 17 minutes of Jimi Hendrix, no complete songs and none of the concert appears on this album, the so-called “Rainbow Bridge – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” – although you can get the whole thing on bootleg. Good old Michael Jeffrey!

Anyway, the album “Rainbow Bridge” disappeared as the approximation of “First Rays Of The New Rising Sun” got released. The other tracks appeared on other compilations – such as “South Saturn Delta” and the excellent “Blues” – “Here My Train A- Coming” of course.

Then is September of this year, Experience Hendrix  - the company that is owned by Jimi Hendrix’s family to oversee his work issued, through Sony Legacy both “The Cry Of Love” and “Rainbow Bridge” neither having been available for years. I suspect that the motive was to sell lots of copies of the vinyl versions  - as we all know, vinyl (which I mistrust) is the record media of the past and future – with the CD as an afterthought. I have the CD – and it is great.

I just hope that Experience Hendrix will not reissue the next two posthumous Hendrix albums “War Heroes” & “Loose Ends” – the later so poor it did not get an American release – or even worse, “Crash Landing”, “Midnight Lightning” or “Nine To The Universe” where producer, Alan Douglas removed the original backing musicians and replaced them and edited Hendrix’s guitar work. However, given Experience Hendrix’s recent track record, I would not put it past them. Still, having said that, it is great to have/hear “Rainbow Bridge” again.

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