April 1st, 2015

CurtisKnight

Title: You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP/PPX Sessions

Artist: Curtis Knight & The Squires

Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy

Formats: CD, LP, MP3

Release date: March 23, 2015

Jimi Hendrix fans have long been acquainted with his 1965-1967 sessions with Curtis Knight & The Squires, which highlight his work as a rhythm and blues guitarist prior to his deification as the god of psychedelic rock. While it’s true that “more than 100 albums have been crafted from approximately forty studio recordings and consumer grade stage recordings by the group,” as the liner notes point out, many of these were “low fidelity variations, remixes, and edited versions.” In truth, Hendrix’s role on these recordings is more accurately described as sideman, though he did write several of the songs and instrumentals. Since he was in contractual litigation at the time these recordings were made, he insisted that his name not be attached to any of the Curtis Knight releases. That did not, however, prevent later compilations from being marketed as Hendrix albums to unsuspecting fans—most notably the two compilations released by Capitol: Get That Feeling (1967) and Flashing (1968).

Legacy’s new release, You Can’t Use My Name, is a partnership with Experience Hendrix, which finally acquired all of the Hendrix/Knight PPX masters in 2003 and is now presenting the music in its original context, newly mixed and mastered by Eddie Kramer. The album opens with “How Would You Feel,” which Knight described as the first black rock protest song. Also included is the previously unreleased 1966 recording of “Station Break” and the full length version of “Knock Yourself Out [Flying On Instruments],” both written by Hendrix (with Jerry Simon, owner of RSVP Records), plus “No Such Animal,” an instrumental written by Hendrix. On the 1967 recording of “Gloomy Monday” (written by Knight), you can hear a brief conversation where Hendrix specifically tells producer Ed Chalpin and Curtis Knight not to use his name. This particular take is previously unreleased, and “showcases Hendrix’s actual contribution to the song” prior to the guitar and electric sitar overdubs added to the commercial release.

You Can’t Use My Name is a good place to start for those who want to hear Hendrix’s earlier work as a backing musician, but with the caveat that the sound from the PPX studio is less than stellar, and the 1967 material is “largely unstructured jam efforts.” But perhaps the best take away is the 24-page illustrated booklet with an essay by Hendrix biographer John McDermott that explains the relationship between Knight and Hendrix, the recordings for PPX, and the years of legal litigation.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

Review Genre(s): Popular, Rock, and Misc.


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