Music

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey

D.M. Edwards

Over-hyped anniversary celebrations detract from the potency of any album. Listeners who hurry can get a version of this release that comes with a commemorative beer glass. And the wind cries: Bullshit.


The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Live at Monterey

Label: Experience Hendrix
US Release Date: 2007-10-16
UK Release Date: 2007-10-29
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iTunes

Jimi Hendrix did not come out of nowhere. His energy, showmanship and musical precision were crafted by backing such luminaries as Slim Harpo, Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, King Curtis, and Wilson Pickett. His creative juices were fired by exchanging ideas with Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MGs, recording with Arthur Lee of Love, jamming with Roy Buchanan, Richie Havens, and Bob Dylan, and supporting Curtis Mayfield. Hendrix also formed a group that included Randy California (later of Spirit) and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (a lynchpin of Steely Dan and, in a lower gear, the Doobie Brothers). All in all, he had quite an apprenticeship.

In 1966, Hendrix was invited to England where he simply cut the very idea of pop music to ribbons. His manager, Chas Chandler, held auditions for his band and assigned lead guitarist Noel Redding to the bass guitar slot and the jazz-influenced Mitch Mitchell on drums. The resulting trio was more fluid than most rock music of the time and with Hendrix at the helm they scared the competition stiff. His dynamism and versatility must have seemed like the magical emergence of Photoshop in an era of paper and glue. Eric Clapton, in a 2005 interview with Ray Minhinnett, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stratocaster guitar, recalls the first time he saw Hendrix play: "There was something about the way Jimi played the Strat that made it seem like it was off limits to me. I thought, I can't do that, I'm not even going to get involved in all that, it's just too crazy."

Having conquered Blighty, Hendrix returned to the USA for a performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, in June 1967. Starting with an introduction by Brian Jones, the gig includes covers of Howling Wolf’s “Killing Floor”, BB King’s “Rock Me Baby”, and Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, as well as Chip Taylor’s “Wild Thing” and “Hey Joe” (inspired by Tim Rose’s slow rendition). The Hendrix originals are the equal of those covers, in particular “The Wind Cries Mary”, as light and spirited as any of Curtis Mayfield’s classics. On the plus side, the album demonstrates that Hendrix combined serenity and dynamism in live performance like few artists have done before or since. Unfortunately, there is also a downside, namely, all the over-hyped celebration of the major anniversaries of great albums. It detracts from their potency. I’m all for new listeners hearing great music, but do they really need to hurry to get a version of this release that comes with a commemorative beer glass? Answers on a postcard to: Experience Hendrix LLC.

The man deserves reinvention. For beneath the raw power and guitar dexterity, his sadness, sensuality and shyness are there for all to hear. Of all the lazy, cynical disservices perpetrated by decades of Classic Rock FM radio, arguably the worst is the reduction of Jimi Hendrix’s work to approximately five songs. That, and the tiresome “guitar hero” tag, ignore the elements of blues, R&B, funk and jazz in his music. Frustratingly, Hendrix’s tender, soulful singing is generally overlooked, and vast swathes of gentle experimentation on, say, the Electric Ladyland album, never receive airplay. Consequently, many people say they don’t like Hendrix, having never heard most of his music. Sadly, yet another CD issue of Live at Monterey will change nothing, it’s more likely to spawn a new generation of second-rate imitators. Indeed, most people will make a snap judgment based on the cover: guitar on fire, Jimi on his knees, headband on, mouth open. Is this the origin of the clichéd phrase, guitar pyrotechnics?

It’s no wonder that Hendrix chewed up rock music and spat it out so quickly. Like bubblegum, the flavor was gone. I like to think that things could have turned out differently. He might have worked with John Lee Hooker, Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, Ali Farka Toure, Sheila Chandra and Miles Davis. He could have ignited a space funk evolution, delved into the deepest blues imaginable, and ripped the jazz and world music genres to shreds. But who knows, maybe he’d have appeared on The Muppet Show or hooked up with another act on the bill at Monterey, the Smothers Brothers.

6

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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