Curtis Knight & the Squires:
You Can't Use My Name -cd review

Warning: this review of the new Curtis Knight & the Squires cd/lp "You Can't Use My Name" released by Experience Hendrix / Sony Legacy is going to be heavily biased which should come as no surprise given the whole "mission" of this website. We're here to listen to these early tracks for what they are so in this review I'm concentrating on the mixing and the presentation of the music pretty much leaving out any judgement on the quality of playing or musical worth with the exception of the three new tracks that no-one has ever heard. I don't at the moment have the vinyl issue so I'm only talking about the cd version here.

you cant use my name
For fans of the early recordings and/or those interested in the historical aspects this is a very important release and one I didn't believe we'd ever see, an actual attempt to release a proper official compilation of all the PPX tracks - Experience Hendrix promises two more volumes in the future. So, once more, I'm reviewing this release from the perspective of a collector and fan of these early recordings, in case you accidentally wandered on this page you should not expect the songs on this disc to resemble or equal any later official Jimi Hendrix music. This is 60s pop, soul and R&B with the occasional track where Jimi gives us some hints of what was to come. My advice is, try before you buy, it's not for everybody. Checking two tracks will give you a good general idea, "Simon Says" for the silliest and least Hendrix-like track and "Knock Yourself Out" to hear how a Hendrix original sounded in early 1966.

The Tracks
Note that these are all first impressions, this review was written less than two weeks after I got the cd. No doubt there are mistakes and little omissions that will come to light after giving the cd more listens over a longer period of time - needless to say I haven't A/B´d every track to the hundreds of previously released mixes and edits...

 1 The disc opens with "How Would You Feel", the first Curtis Knight / Jimi Hendrix recording ever released. The original RSVP single, "How Would You Feel / Welcome Home" (RSVP 1120) which of course was in mono, came out in April 1966 credited just to "Curtis Knight" with no mention of the Squires on the label. Here we have a stereo mix and I believe this is the longest version that's ever been available. The original single faded out at 2.45, some later releases of the track did run longer but I don't recall ever hearing a version this long fading out at 3.48. The new mix is well balanced and faithful to the sound of the original 45 version with no added effects. On the original single the vocals and fuzz bass dominated, here the vocals are perhaps a bit more to the fore than the rest of the band as they are mixed central along with the drums with the fuzz bass left and guitar & bass on the right. A very successful stereo mix, audio quality is of course much better than on the 1966 single.

2 "Gotta Have A New Dress" is in a stereo mix, organ on the left, vocals & drums central and the bass and guitar a bit to the right. The track was originally released (without any involvement by Jimi) by Curtis Knight in October 1962 on the 45 "Gotta Have A New Dress / When You've Got Love" (Shell 45-312). This is (as far currently known) the only occasion that Curtis re-recorded a previously issued track with Jimi. The Knight / Hendrix version wasn't however released at the time so there isn't an original mix to compare to, the stereo mix presented here again sounds very good with no unnecessary manipulations, fading out at 3.06.

3 "Don't Accuse Me" is mixed somewhat differently to the previous tracks, probably because of the very prominent background vocals which thankfully are included in the mix, most releases over the years have used a mix with the vocals removed. The band is mainly mixed left & center, the lead vocals are central and the backing vocals are mixed both left and right. The track fades out at 3.57, around the same point as the old stereo mix. The new mix differs quite a bit from the previously available stereo version with backing vocals, it's narrower and more "up close", the previous vocal mix was wider and had echo added, the mix here is more intimate and "authentic" sounding. None of this stuff was of course recorded with stereo in mind at the time, I find the slightly narrower and more direct mix to be an improvement. The track begins with Jimi saying "take 30" but there's no way to tell if this comment actually preceded this take on the master tape or if it was edited in. Still, nice to hear it though it begs the question whether Jimi was leading the band here if he was counting the takes in? Was there other studio chat on the tapes giving insight into who was running the show at the sessions? The liner notes make no comment about this, it would have been nice to know a bit more.

4 "Fool For You" has only ever been available in one mix which made me suspect that Ed Chalpin did not have a multitrack master for the track. Seems I was wrong as the track appears here in a new stereo mix. Fuzz guitar on the left, vocals, electric piano, bass and drums central and guitar on the right. Again, this mix is narrower and dryer than the one previously available which I again think suits the material better. The mix is also longer than the one previously available, the old mix fades out at 1.48 and the new one at 2.13.

5 "No Such Animal" appears to be the exact same mono mix with bass, guitar, drums, organ & shouting that was originally released split in two on an Audio Fidelity Records 45 in 1970 but it's now presented here uninterrupted. It has been available in one piece on at least one obscure cd and one lp but I own neither, of course the original 45 had overlap between the two parts so it was rather easy to edit together for a complete version. Still, few people have heard this track in any form as it's never had a really widespread release until now. The audio quality is better than the 45 which sounds very thin and shrill in comparison.The track is credited as being licensed from Global Recording Media LLC as are "Knock Yourself Out" and "Station Break". This is very interesting, "No Such Animal" and "Station Break" are tracks that were in the possession of Jerry Simon, the owner of RSVP, the company that released the two original Curtis Knight singles featuring Hendrix. Experience Hendrix has not purchased the original tapes but instead licensed the recordings. The fact that the cd uses the old 45 mono mix does make one wonder where the multitrack for "No Such Animal" is but clearly it was unavailable. I thought Global Recording Media LLC might give us some answers and looked for the company on Google with very little result, just one hit and that gives us only a statement that Global Recording Media LLC is a "New Jersey Domestic Limited-Liability Company filed on July 1, 2009" and a postal code: Morristown, NJ 07962.

6 "Welcome Home" originally was the flipside of the 1st RSVP single (the A-side being track 1 of this cd, "How Would You Feel"). The version here is a new stereo mix with guitar on the left, lead vocals slightly left of center, crowd noises left and right, drums, tambourine, bass and another guitar on the right. For the solo a third guitar track appears in the center with the last note panned hard left. I would have preferred to have the whole solo central as stereo panning is a trick that was only introduced in 1967 on Hendrix records and doesn't thus really belong here. It's also the only occasion of stereo panning on the whole disc. But that's an extremely minor point and one could also argue that this is a 2014/2015 Eddie Kramer mix and not an original 60s mix so it isn't in any way  "authentic" to begin with. The original mono 45 mix had one of Jimi's guitars (the one now on the left channel in the new stereo mix) and Curtis` lead vocals up front, the new mix keeps the balance of the instruments the same pretty faithfully with the guitar perhaps slightly more up front though stereo separation of course brings it out a bit more by default. This is the longest version of the track that has ever been available running 3.46 which includes some talking by Jimi and a girl laughing after the music stops.

7 "Knock Yourself Out" is titled on the sleeve as "Knock Yourself Out [Flying On Instruments]". The part with the engineer introducing the track as "Flying On Instruments" hasn't been heard before ("We are rolling, Flying On Instruments take one"), a similar introduction for "Hornet's Nest" (which was originally introduced and recorded as "Kato's Special") has been circulating for a long time. Why "Knock Yourself Out" doesn't get an alternate title on this release is unknown, perhaps the intention was just to confirm that  "Flying On Instruments" (a title mentioned in a 21st of June 1966 publishing contract) is not an unknown unreleased track. This track was the B-side of the second RSVP single "Hornet's Nest / Knock Yourself Out" (RSVP 1124), credited to Curtis Knight & the Squires and released in late 1966. The new stereo mix has organ and bass on the left, drums central and guitar on the right. The mix is faithful to the original single with all of the instruments pretty much in equal balance. The original mono 45 mix fades out at 2.34. There have been mixes longer than the single mix released before but none have been this complete fading out at around 6.00, the new mix gives us circa 50 seconds of new music (including a very familiar riff that I now can't place played at 6.20-35) running to the end where the band stops playing and finishing at 6.52 after some extra notes by Jimi.

8 "Simon Says" starts well with a previously unheard bit of chat from the engineer ("Ok this is Simon Says, rolling on take one" after which someone seems to shout "twenty") but unfortunately it is still for me the least successful new mix on the disc. The mix is basically mono with one of the guitars mixed hard left. There is a very rare mix of this track, probably only available on the lp "The Eternal Fire Of Jimi Hendrix", which features a sax part. That instrument is missing here, probably mixed out by Kramer. For historical accuracy it would have been good to have it included - if it indeed was on the original multitrack and not a later overdub by Chalpin. Also, the guitars here are mixed slightly too much to the fore, this track was all about the vocals so it is now a bit off balance. It doesn't have your most exciting lyrics ever so it is understandable to bring out Jimi's playing but it's not how the track was originally meant to be heard so the whole mix is now a bit revisionistic. The new version runs for 3.39 before it fades out, this includes some chat but this mix still has some 15 seconds more music than previously available versions which fade out at circa 3.13 after the line "Simon says do the mashed potato".

9 "Station Break" is a new unreleased track with electric piano, drums, bass and guitar, surprisingly in a mono mix. It's an instrumental, not as developed as the other instrumentals that the band recorded but it's still great to finally get to hear it. This is another track licensed from Global Recording Media LLC so presumably no multitrack was available for a stereo remix. Very strangely there is an edit at roughly 1.44 where a repeat of the previous 2 seconds has been inserted. This added part can be cut out seamlessly so there doesn't seem to have been any reason for inserting it, no tape damage or mistakes by the band to mask. The edit would seem to have been done in analog (as the two segments are not digitally identical) before the track was digitised. Why it's there is a complete mystery.

I asked John McDermott of Experience Hendrix about the edit section and here's his reply:
"We transferred the original master of "Station Break" that Jerry Simon had.  Eddie did not make a single edit (digital or otherwise) in the master supplied to EH by Global.  What is on the finished CD exactly matches the cassette copy of that same master that Simon's attorney supplied me for reference purposes eleven years ago."

If Experience Hendrix didn't do the edit then Global Recording Media LLC must have, would be very interesting to get hold of someone in the company and ask about this and other recordings that they might still be holding.

10 "Strange Things" comes in a new stereo mix, one guitar on the left, organ, bass, congas and lead vocal central, one guitar on the right. Again the guitars are quite up front but on this mix I think it works, there is a guitar solo so it's justified to have the guitar high in the mix and mixing Curtis slightly back and fading the maniacal laughter adds to the intended "diabolical" atmosphere. The track fades out at 2.55, roughly at the same spot as the old stereo mix.

11 "Hornet's Nest" is a surprise, it's an alternate take to the one that was issued as the A-side of the second RSVP single in 1966, a fact that wasn't mentioned anywhere in the advance publicity. This out-take must never have been in Chalpin's possession instead at the time remaining with Jerry Simon and staying unreleased and unheard of until being now licensed from Global Recording Media LLC for release. It's a complete take timed at 5.07, loose and played very fast. Definitely one for the collectors, a worthwhile alternate version which is a bit sloppy compared to the final take but offers an interesting new angle and different guitar parts by Jimi. Unlike the other two Global Recording Media LLC tracks this one is in stereo suggesting that session tapes for this track perhaps still exist, guitar is mixed left, screaming, bass & drums central and organ to the right.

12 "You Don't Want Me" has drums left and right, Curtis on the left, fuzz bass & guitar central and backing vocals on the right. Jimi's guitar parts are quite low and central unlike other tracks on this album and comparing this to the old stereo mix (just one stereo mix with vocals exists) the instrument placement seems identical. During the last part of the song the track twice bounces to mono and then back to stereo. I suspect that there was no multitrack tape, the old stereo mix was used but the tape that was available was damaged so the unusable parts were patched with an old mono mix. Just guesswork on my part but clearly there was some sort of a problem as we don't get a full stereo mix and apart from differences in audio that could be attributed to mastering the separation and levels seem to be the same as on the old stereo mix. I would have preferred the full mono mix if this is all that was available in stereo, the bouncing between mono and stereo is very distracting especially when listening with headphones and did not occur on old releases of the stereo mix.

I send the preceding text of me speculating to John McDermott and this was his reply:
"There was no tape damage problems with "You Don't Want Me".  Eddie worked to bring the best out of what existed.  It was wasn't well recorded originally but this is different from the tape itself being damaged in some capacity."

13 "You Can't Use My Name" isn't a song but studio chat preceding a version of "Gloomy Monday". According to the liner notes "Heard for the first time on this album" which is true when it comes to official releases. Part of the chat has been bootlegged a long time ago, in fact on a vinyl lp with the same name as this release, "You Can't Use My Name". But the segment released on the bootleg was only 0.25 long, here we get more than twice as much, the new version runs for 0.56.  This is of course the famous studio chat where Jimi asks Chalpin not to use his name and Ed replies "Don't worry about it", a huge stroke of luck that the conversation was recorded and that it has survived to this day.

14 On the bootleg lp the studio chat segment was followed by two takes of "Gloomy Monday", on the new cd the chat is followed by just a single take of "Gloomy Monday" but it's a new previously uncirculated out-take of the basic track. The tempo is slower but otherwise the track sounds like it originated from the same session as the other two. In the liner notes John McDermott tells us that "Chalpin would later issue a different take burnished with additional guitar and electric sitar not performed with Hendrix. The recording presented here showcases Hendrix's actual contribution to the song without these overdubs". So one assumes Experience Hendrix also has the multitrack for the overdubbed master take, hopefully a stripped down mix of that take with only Jimi's original guitar parts will be included on a future volume. The take that is included here is a bit rough and not very different from the two out-takes already available.

In general the inclusion of the whole 1967 segment must have been more of a political / marketing decision than a musical one as "Gloomy Monday" is out of place here being the sole 1967 recording. Then again it is the only actually composed track (probably, which tracks from the 1967 sessions really originally had vocals is still a bit uncertain) that Jimi worked on in 1967 instead of just jamming so it may have been included here for that reason.

Missing from this disc when it comes to 1965-1966 sessions are at least the original 45 take of "Hornet's Nest" and "The U.F.O.". The omission of UFO made me suspicious of Jimi's involvement so I asked John McDermott about the track, his reply:
"There were some additional songs such as "UFO" that we considered but did not include as part of the album.  I can confirm that Jimi is on the master. There is not much guitar per se but he was on the original session."

I do hope that the original mixes of the two RSVP singles will be included somewhere. The single versions of the tracks are incomplete but they were the ones officially released in 1966 and thus more or less approved by Jimi so if the original 45 master tapes  still exist they should be released in some form, for example as a nice four track cd ep for RSD since they really are collectors items. I also think leaving "The U.F.O." out was an unfortunate decision, it's a silly track, yes, but should have been included for completeness sake. Hopefully it and the other tracks left out that McDermott mentions will surface one way or another.

The Verdict
When it comes to the audio content I think this disc is a success. There are some complaints, the most serious one is the unexplainable 2 second repeat section in "Station Break". Also, I wasn't that happy with the mixes of "Strange Things" and "You Don't Want Me" but in general the new mixes are very good and the three new tracks a great addition. The bits of studio chat liven up the cd and give an unfinished "session" feel reflecting the fact that most of this album would have stayed in the can if Jimi wouldn't have gotten famous so it was a good decision to include them. The chat also unifies the record as it ends with the big studio chat finale of "You Can't Use My Name / Gloomy Monday".

The stereo on the album isn't very adventurous, some might have preferred a wider stereo mix with more ambiance but I find that a bit narrower stereo with instruments dry and upfront is a very appropriate mix for this material given the time it was recorded in, it's a bunch of tracks done with the R&B singles charts and club djs in mind and the mixes conform to that. The most extremely politically correct approach would of course have been to mix it all in mono but even I do prefer stereo when remixing multitracks for a project like this, original 60s mono mixes would be a different matter. For a commercial release of archive material it would have been a 5 star album if it wasn't for the repeat in "Station Break" and the stereo/mono problem in "You Don't Want Me". These kind of faults could easily have been avoided and shouldn't be there on such a high profile release so I'll knock one star off for that and I'll give the audio 4 out of 5. From a collector point of view there is of course always room for improvement and only a 10 cd box including all of the incomplete takes and studio chat will do...

The most striking thing about the front cover is that Experience Hendrix didn't put Jimi's name on it. With everything being about marketing when it comes to selling records these days NOT having the name of your main selling point on the sleeve is a courageous move. I can imagine there were discussions with Sony Legacy about this. The name is of course on the sticker and advance publicity has made sure we know who plays on the album but leaving out "Hendrix" still sacrifices a lot of sold units and pretty much any record company would have had a very hard time agreeing to it. This has of course been underlined by Experience Hendrix by calling the release "You Can't Use My Name" as per Jimi's request - they knew releasing these recordings would be a tricky business so have clearly spend a lot of time thinking about the presentation. In my opinion the approach they took is the best one they could have taken.

The digipak design is competent, not spectacular, which has been the Experience Hendrix way since the beginning. All of the photographs have been seen before (though many not in this quality) except for a color version of a studio shot on page 15 which I've only seen in b&w. The square cd booklet limits the space available and many shots have been closely cropped, colored or are very small. The lp version might have them in larger size but like I said I haven't got it yet. I hope Experience Hendrix will in the future find a way to give us these shots in their original form without any cropping or other manipulation, perhaps as part of a photo book or if the cost of producing something along those lines is a problem then for example as a bonus gallery on a future blu-ray release, valuable content for a minimal investment. Just like the recordings all of these photos have never been available in one place in the quality that they would deserve to be seen in.

The lack of session info in the liner notes is a disappointment. No reason for this is given, worst case scenario is that there were no logs but one would have expected there to be some session info or at least some interesting bits that could have been retrieved from the tapes themselves: was the studio chat that is included on the album all there was left, were there incomplete takes, unreleased songs, who was present at the studio - practically no comment is made about the tapes or sessions at all. If there is nothing to tell it would have been nice to tell us that there is nothing to tell. Or maybe the information is being held back for inclusion in the next edition of "Ultimate Hendrix".

There are also some contradictions in the liner notes and occasional bits that I disagree with but in general they give a good compact overview about the circumstances that produced these recordings, there's certainly enough information for an average Hendrix fan with a "normal" interest in the early recordings. For a commercial release the packaging scores 4 out of 5 stars, it's a nice design that doesn't mislead you into buying something that it isn't and has lot's of relevant photos. A collector again would have wanted a bit more since Experience Hendrix has the goods in their possession - a clamshell box with a booklet of Squires photos inside, another booklet of facsimile studio sheets, copies of the PPX contracts etc...

Overall despite the small faults that the general public won't even notice it's a great release that will get regular play even though most of the material is well past familiar. I'm looking forward to the following volumes which will surely be more challenging but possibly an even more enjoyable listen - how will Experience Hendrix go about presenting the 1967 sessions and have they got the masters for the live material, raw without overdubs?

With thanks to John McDermott and Doug Bell for their help.

9 April 2015

Curtis Knight Featuring Jimi Hendrix:
Live At George`s Club 20 -CD Review

This release is really tricky to review. Expectations were high after the previous volume  of Curtis Knight studio recordings "You Can`t Use My Name". That disc included a lot of new material, completely unheard tracks, new mixes and small added bits and pieces here and there.

With "Live At George`s Club 20" everyone was hoping to finally hear the live tracks as they were recorded, without Ed Chalpin`s manipulations and in improved sound quality. That hasn`t happened. Looks like it never will as based on this release Experience Hendrix do not have the unaltered masters. So what do we get here?

live at georges club 20

There are two schools of thought among Hendrix collectors, those who consider these recordings rubbish and think this release is a rip off.

Then there`s the other group who find that these recordings are at least historically important and some even consider them an enjoyable listen. I`m unsurprisingly in the 2nd category.

If you are not familiar with these recordings I recommend that you listen to them first before buying and make up your own mind. I`m not going to pay any attention to the musical content as most people visiting this website  already have all of this material in their collections, I'm only reviewing the audio quality and presentation.

All of the tracks that we do get here are complete (more or less, some fade out) and all without the overdubs that ruined so many past releases of some of these tracks. But the claim made in the liner notes, "all of the various overdubs and excess manipulation made previously has been removed", is a bit misleading. That sentence has been carefully put together so that it accurately describes these tracks but gives one the impression that things are better than they actually are. The keyword is "excessive". The overdubs and most of the extreme echo effects are gone, true, but the majority of these tracks are far from their original state.

Also, "excessive" is subjective term but many tracks here still have a lot of effects in the mix, often in stereo when the actual music is in mono, and many are available elsewhere in stereo (as apparently originally recorded) while they are included here in mono mixes.

So sadly it is clear that the original tapes were not available. This is also, again very diplomatically, acknowledged in the liner notes: "we have returned as closely as can be determined to the original sound recordings". So, Experience Hendrix may have used the best tapes that they could find, unfortunately those weren`t the raw tapes but later mixes prepared by Ed Chalpin.

If the original masters are lost then that can`t be helped and we have to live with what we have. What I do find a major problem  is that the overdubbed audience again (or still) rears it´s ugly head. Many of these mixes already had audience overdubs done by Chalpin but here new bursts of audience noise have been inserted between some tracks to link them together. The aim probably was to improve the flow of the disc by hiding the cuts but when you are already familiar with the music these really stick out very badly and they were not done discreetly, the noise suddenly comes in and then disappears again.

Dagger Releases are made for fans and collectors so manipulating the tapes in this way is a decision that I cannot agree with, no matter what you do to these tapes they will not sound good so why make things worse?

I`ll go through the disc track by track. Please note that I haven`t A/B`d every track to every previous release of this material, there are thousands of lps and cds out there, so something might be available somewhere in better quality than what I`m suggesting here. I just compared the tracks to sources that I recall being the best so far. If you spot any mistakes please let me know.

NOTE: when I say "mono" in this review it means that the band is central / on one channel, they may be effects, EQ etc. that are in stereo, some tracks have a bit of stereo separation, nothing here is really straight 100% mono.

1 Introduction
2 Killing Floor
3 Last Night

Three tracks that seem to belong together (though there probably is a cut / edit in the chat between "Killing Floor" and "Last Night"), they have been found in this sequence on previous releases as well and the audio quality is uniform.
What is different here is that these tracks are mixed in mono. They were already available in a wide stereo mix with drums & bass on the left and rhythm & lead guitars and vocals on the right.

The Dagger release has the band in mono and a rather loud buzzing noise in the left channel. And this isn`t just the original tape mixed in mono, there`s one musically insignificant mix difference that is very interesting when discussing the origin of these tapes.

On the stereo mix you can hear someone saying "one, two" in the left channel after Curtis says "Alright, here we go" at the start of the introduction. This is missing on the Dagger version and it must have been deliberately mixed out. You can still hear it very faintly on the Dagger but it`s practically inaudible, if you take either channel of the stereo mix and turn it into two channel mono the "one, two" is still clearly audible. So the Dagger isn´t just a mono fold down of the stereo tape or just one channel of the stereo mix, it`s something else.

As these two (or three if you count the introduction) tracks are the ones that were previously suspected to be studio recordings the missing "one, two" is very interesting.

First of all, Experience Hendrix clearly didn't have the original master tape. The mono mix and the buzzing in the left channel suggest that this is an old Chalpin mix, not a recent creation. Which probably means that the master is awol.

If the original master is a 2 track stereo tape it would have been relatively easy to take out that "one, two", just bring the left channel down for a second, but the question is why? We again arrive at the old suspicion that this isn't a live recording, when you listen to the stereo tape the ambience is not that of a one mic recording in a nightclub.

I can think of two reasons two remove the "one, two"
- it clashes with Curtis` introduction
- it was spoken by an engineer in the studio and was removed to hide the origin of the tape

The disappearance of the "one, two" is suspicious as is the downgrading of the audio quality. As the Dagger liner notes tell us it was Chalpin who added overdubs to the live tapes in order to improve quality. This was already known as numerous lps have these live tracks with overdubs. But why did Chalpin downgrade the sound quality of the tapes by mixing stereo into mono, adding effects and crowd noise? This missing "one, two" is one more puzzle to solve.

There`s still one more possibility, the original tape actually is mono and the stereo tape that we have is an overdubbed creation with new drums & bass in the left channel and the original mono recording in the right.

I compared the stereo mix to the mono mix on the Dagger and there are no differences to the instrumentation that I can hear. One is simply a stereo mix and the other mono. Is the stereo mix fake stereo? No, it appears to be genuine. The level of drums & guitars stay about the same on both channels but the vocals are clearly strong on the right channel and weak & far away on the left, the bass is much stronger on the left while still audible on the right. Sounds like a two mic recording with one mic next to the vocal mic and another close to the bass amp with not that much distance between the two.

It seems probable that all of these recordings were originally done in stereo but a lot of them have for some bizarre reason been mixed into mono by Chalpin.

I send John McDermott a draft of this review and he made the following comments:
"I am not certain which exact version you are referencing but I think the 'One, Two" comment you mention is from the 1970 overdub session.    

Eddie did his best within the limitations of the mono recording to improve the overall sound.  Some of the techniques he employed may be creating the variations you are citing in terms of mono/stereo.  The 1970 overdubs Chalpin recorded allowed for stereo mixing and a wider image certainly than the original 7 1/2" & 3 3/4" ips tapes.  There are many different examples that Chalpin later released which kept some of the overdubs but not, for example, the drums.  This may well possibly be another consideration in the mono/stereo variations you cite.   It is hard to know which version(s) of this stuff you are specifically referencing.  

These recordings were not made in a studio..." 1

- The following three tracks are also in the same sequence on the tape copy that we have: "Get Out Of My Life, Woman", "Ain't That Peculiar" and "Mercy, Mercy". This may or may not mean that this is the order that they were performed in, there are cuts in the tape between songs, this block of tracks is not continuous.

4 Get Out Of My Life, Woman
A nice clean dry mono mix. The tape version is in comparable audio quality but has added reverb, the Dagger version is dry. This probably hasn`t been available in this good quality before so can be considered an upgrade.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

5 Ain't That Peculiar
A nice clean dry mix. There seems to be a bit of stereo separation but the image is very narrow. The tape version is in comparable audio quality and mix but has a tiny bit of reverb which makes it sound  a bit brighter. I prefer the Dagger version.

6 Mercy, Mercy
This is available in stereo on tape but that mix has some reverb, the Dagger has this in a dry mono mix. So it`s a matter of taste which you prefer, the sound of the Dagger pleases my ear more but it`s in mono. There`s a bit of chat from Jimi missing at the start that is available on tape and other sources.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

7 I`m A Man
Again available elsewhere in stereo but with heavy echo effects applied. The Dagger is in mono, there is some reverb added, the mix is not completely dry but it`s much less soaked in echo than the stereo mix. So though this mix is in mono I´d consider it an upgrade as it`s a much nicer listen. I suspected it might be a mono fold-down of the right channel of the stereo mix (as the echo effects are mainly in the left channel) but I checked this in an audio editor and it does seem to be a real mono mix from the stereo master.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here. The following two tracks follow each other on the tape copy and there doesn`t seem to be an audible cut between the two.

8 Driving South
Both this and the next track are available in stereo on tape but are here in a mono mix, though both have some echo effects in stereo. These go out and in, after Driving South there`s heavy echo on Curtis` introduction which suddenly cuts out, applied completely in random it seems.

9 Baby What You Want Me To Do
This is available in stereo on tape. And the recording clearly is in true stereo as the tambourine moves around from left and right on the stereo mix (it also does that at the start of "Driving South"), this can`t be achieved with eq.

If this was recorded in stereo with two mics set up on stage and the tambourine is moving around but none of the other instruments are the logical conclusion would be that whoever was playing it was walking around while doing so. As the tambourine also moves around in the stereo image during vocal parts it is not being played by Curtis who`s fixed to the vocal mic. So this track could be from the recording with Ace Hall on tambourine. Unless the tambourine is actually an overdub in which case it would be strange for it to move around in the stereo image - unless the aim was to confuse us into thinking it wasn`t an overdub! You can spend days trying to figure it out...

The Dagger has this in a mono mix with heavy echo in the left channel. There`s very little hiss on the Dagger but the sound quality is a bit distant and muffled so this one isn`t an improvement.

There`s a loud noise at 1.47 which sounds like a mic dropping or something hitting it and at 1.54 we can hear Jimi saying something to someone, probably related to the noise.

- On the tape source this track ends in a tape speed up, someone probably stopped or paused the recording, the recording slowing down as the button on the deck is depressed results in a speed-up on playback. On the tape the next track after the cut is "Shotgun" which starts with someone saying "Ditto you got it".  On the Dagger the tape speed-up has been edited out, the "Ditto you got it" intro from "Shotgun" has been left in but another edit then takes us to "I`ll Be Doggone" instead.

10 I'll Be Doggone
"I'll Be Doggone" is the take with Lonnie Youngblood on sax (another take exist without sax).  It is a clear upgrade, finally a version of this track without bass and drum overdubs. Or at least almost without them, there seems to be some bleed through from a drum overdub, mainly hi hat, though at this point I might just be paranoid. It is in any case a much improved version compared to the old overdubbed mix where the new bass & drum parts drowned everything else out.

The Dagger version is a mono mix but it`s impossible to say if the original was in mono or stereo as the only version to compare it to is the overdubbed one.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

11 Sweet Little Angel
A mono mix with heavy echo on the left channel this is available in better quality and in a dry mix elsewhere.  Also, "Sweet Little Angel" runs directly into "Driving South" on the original tapes, there is no continuous source available but different sources have overlap so it`s possible to edit the two together. So this track is now in the wrong place in the running order of this disc.

12 Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go
Again, a mono mix with heavy echo on the left channel and reverb in the overall mix. In principle this is an upgrade as it sounds a bit better than what we previously had but the heavy effects distract from the music.  

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

13 Travelin' To California
This track is preceded by a small bit of previously unheard chat from Jimi:
"This goes out to all the soul folks out there, I hear you all making a lot of noise out there."

The intro has heavy echo applied but this disappears as the track starts. The sound quality is pretty much the same as on the versions that we already had, perhaps a little cleaner, but the Dagger is in mono, this track is already available in stereo.

Right after the tracks finishes Curtis starts the introduction for the next song, this seems to be a continuous piece of tape, I can`t hear an edit though it`s impossible to be sure as there`s overdubbed crowd noise that would mask any possible clues.

The start of Curtis` introduction would seem to be previously unheard:
"Oh yeah, continuing on, and as I said, we`re being,"

which is where we pick up again with the last part of the introduction which is familiar from "You Got What It Takes":
"you're being recorded live, we're making an album right here... fabulous Club 20 in Hackensack, New Jersey". 

At this point the Dagger cuts to Jimi`s introduction for "What`d I Say". So it`s possible that the two tracks, "Travelin' To California" and "You Got What It Takes", flow into each other on the original tapes, a new piece of information.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

14 What`d I Say
"What`d I Say" is misspelled on the cover as "What I Say". The Dagger has this in stereo, the vocals are very distorted as they are on all available versions but otherwise the quality is rather nice here. The stereo is a bit narrow but clear and there is little hiss.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

15 Land Of 1000 Dances
A narrow stereo mix. This is an upgrade in audio quality, unfortunately there`s that annoying echo effect in the left channel again. Thankfully the echo settles down a bit as the track progresses.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here.

16 Come On - Part 1  
The track is listed as "Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)" on the sleeve, a title Experience Hendrix has to use as the officially registered title for the song has been changed. The mix is very similar to that of the previous track, narrow stereo. This is available in a wide stereo mix which is however spoiled by an audience noise overdub so again the Dagger, while technically inferior, is actually the better mix.

- The transition to the next track has been masked with an audience noise overdub here, sounding really weird as the track fades out. It`s also an odd decision to have the two tracks that introduce the two different line-ups follow one another.

17 Band Outro
A rare track as it has been released only once before, on the 1996 SPV cd "Live At George`s Club" where it was in mono with echo in the left channel. The Dagger seems to use the exact same tape, it is in mono with the same left channel echo effect. However, the best version is available on tape, in wide stereo and without any added effects.

I had previously listed this track as having no sax on it, there however seems to be some sax buried way back in the mix. It`s hard to hear from under the band (best heard at circa 0.45) but it seems Lonnie does play on this track giving us one more little clue for piecing these tapes together. The conclusion is that the line-up with Ditto on drums also seems to have Lonnie on sax even though Curtis doesn`t introduce him here.

- All versions fade out, the Dagger unfortunately tries to smooth the fade with a very obvious crowd overdub, an odd decision especially since we are at the end of the disc.

It seems that all of the live recordings originally existed in stereo but it also seems that Experience Hendrix do not have most these tapes. Many tracks here are in mono but they do not sound like modern mixes, the impression that I get is that EH used Chalpin`s old mono mixes, the edits, effects and sound quality all correspond with previous releases of these tracks. If the liner notes are to be believed these are the best available sources that they had which means it`s highly unlikely we will ever get the unaltered tapes in their complete form, they simply don`t seem to exist any more.

So this Dagger Records release is simply a selection of Chalpin`s mixes taken from the tapes that Experience Hendrix has in their possession. It doesn`t even try to be a comprehensive anthology of the complete recordings, seems no other sources were looked at which is a great shame as that`s what everybody was waiting for.

We`ll have to take this disc for what it is, another collection of Curtis Knight live material in a long line of releases. John McDermott`s liner notes describe the situation with these recordings quite well: "The irony is that had these tapes come to light in recent years, unsullied by Chalpin`s clumsy exploitation of this material for decades, their existence would have been celebrated as a major discovery". This would have been the perfect opportunity to redeem these tracks by presenting them all in one complete collection, as this release is an official bootleg even incomplete tracks could have been included, justified by their rarity.

If you collect Curtis Knight recordings (And who doesn`t! :) there are many tracks here that you`ll want to have but none of these are really definite mixes in any way. Viewed simply as a collection of new alternate Curtis Knight mixes I would have given this 3 out of 5 stars. None of the tracks are unaltered raw versions which we so have longed for but there are several that are a much nicer listen than what we previously had. But I find the audience noise "links" so annoying that I have to knock one star off and settle for 2 out of 5.

These audience overdubs spoil a lot of the listening pleasure, this release was supposed to finally give us this material free of manipulation so why on earth these crowd overdubs? Just to be clear, I do not mean the audience overdubs that are mixed in the background of the actual tracks, these are more than likely Chalpins work and cannot be helped. I mean the new between track overdubs, they seem to use the same Chalpin audience loops as the old releases which is sort of appropriate and that may have been why they were added, to give an impression of a contemporary live album. Some may just be crossfades to blend one track with audience noise with another without but doing so on a bootleg collection aimed at a collector makes no sense. Was this cd originally compiled as a mainstream release, then released on Dagger Records instead? Would explain the rather odd way this has been put together.

So there doesn`t seem to have been an effort made to make sure that every mix is the best version out there as many are available elsewhere in stereo and in better quality. That may be a legal question, the exact tapes bought from Chalpin had to be used even if better quality exists elsewhere, but I think it`s more likely that EH were unwilling to invest too much time and money. Combing through all of the available tapes and discs would be a huge task and as this release is a mail order only bootleg disc, not a mainstream commercial release, recouping the expenses of having someone work for months or years sorting the recordings out would probably not have been possible.

The packaging is nice, there is a new shot of the band from Ondine and another from an unknown location (from where two shots were previously known to exist). Rest of the images are familiar though the Cheetah shots have rarely been seen in color. Hopefully the upcoming vinyl release will give us even better versions of these pictures.

The liner notes are accurate and give a very good description of the band and the music inside but I was hoping for much more information about the recording dates, tracklists for the gigs and existing tapes. After all one big selling point of this collection was going to be clearing up all the confusion so more information about what tapes actually exist and how these tracks were selected would have been great.

With thanks to John McDermott.

15 April 2017

1 Email from John McDermott 13 April 2017


Other PPX artists

In addition to Curtis Knight Ed Chalpin signed & represented many other artists. None of these acts are known to have recorded or played with Jimi Hendrix but like the PPX backing tracks  they offer an insight into what kind of a business PPX Enterprises Inc. was.

Here's a list of info on artists & tracks recorded / released / published / represented by PPX in the 1960s that I've been able to gather so far. If you have anything to add or corrections please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

45 "Next To Your Fire / Without A Woman" (Capitol P 2174) USA 1968
Don Brewer and Mark Farner left The Pack in 1968 and started Grand Funk Railroad. An interesting release as the A-side is a cover of "Fire" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience - with the publishing credited to PPX. Ed Chalpin never handled Jimi's publishing for anything else other than the Curtis Knight -material so this credit is a bit of a mystery, perhaps a mix up at Capitol as they had been working with Chalpin on the first two Curtis Knight & Jimi Hendrix -lps.
Listen to on YouTube (Next To Your Fire): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOC1vAldWds

45 "Shadow On The Ground / ?" (Decca?) UK? 1967?
A single by Tony Case is mentioned in a letter send by UK Decca to Ed Chalpin but no release seems to ever have materialized.1

45 "You Got Me / You Got Me" (20th Century Fox Records 628) promotional copy - USA 196?
45 "You Got Me / Love Is Something Within" (20th Century Fox Records 628) - USA 196?
"Young, Warm And Wonderful" - unreleased demo?
PPX credited for "You Got Me", I haven't seen the other labels.

See the Ricky Mason Artists-entry

"Didn't It Seem A Bit Like Love" - unreleased demo?
An acetate disc exists with a "PPX ENTERPRISES" credit on the label.

1 Letter from Geoffrey A. Milne of Decca London Division to Ed Chalpin dated 30 June 1967 - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
3 a demo for the track is mentioned in a letter from Janet Facher (for Ed Chalpin) to Tom Morgan of Capitol Records dated 1 March 1968 - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum


PPX backing tracks

Originally Ed Chalpin's main business was recording backing tracks for cover versions of chart hits. He then licensed these recordings to record companies / artists abroad who recorded their vocals on top thus creating their own (often translated) cover versions. The PPX Enterprises Inc. stationery (used for Jimi's contract and for correspondence at least up to 1984) stated "Representing the largest and most diversified available library of Music Masters in the World".

There isn't a single shred of evidence that Jimi Hendrix would have played on any of these recordings nor has anyone involved ever claimed that he did but they offer interesting background information on PPX Enterprises, Inc. And knowing what kind of an operation Chalpin had been running puts the later turns of events in a proper context, the same "music business" that Chalpin was in was completely different in nature than the one that Jimi Hendrix later found himself in.

When Chalpin started releasing his Knight / Hendrix -recordings he already had contacts in place all over the world resulting in the tracks over the years spreading around the globe with different releases in probably hundreds of different countries. The cover version business also goes some way explaining why Chalpin made so many different mixes of the Knight tracks and why there are so many different compilations, he was used to stretching the material that he had as far as he could and then some. He had little interest in making cohesive albums of the material or any other artistic concerns instead working on a track to track basis and focusing on getting the most use out of any one recording.

As the same backing track was licensed multiple times by different labels in different countries some of these uncredited backing tracks can be tracked down. Listed here are the ones that I have been able to identify and any leads there are for finding others. A starting point for this list was the Billboard 1 October 1966 article that names many artists and labels that Chalpin had sold backing tracks to. Indeed without that article it would have been impossible to identify any of them as the backing tracks were never credited to PPX, at least not on the releases that I have seen. There must be loads more, I hope that the ones listed here will help others come to light.

Chalpin was quoted in Billboard issue 1 October 1966 1 as saying "I'm only doing a cover once every six weeks now" and estimating that 80% of his product at the time was original material so it would seem that by 1966 the cover version part of his operations was winding down. So most (if not all) of the backing tracks out there can probably be found on releases that came out pre-1967.

About the artists actually recording the backing tracks Billboard 1 reported: "For cover records, Chalpin often uses a house name like Chet Avery or an unknown artist or group. One artist estimated he'd recorded more than 35 records for Chalpin, all of which were released, including such tunes as "Big Bad John", "Little Bitty Tear", and a German version of "Wooden Heart" ". The only name given here is Chet Avery and indeed, the recording of "Runaway" released under his own name used a backing track that also popped up in Argentina. So Chet Avery is one of the musicians appearing on these tracks but as the article tells us there probably were many others.

Twin Hits
A label called Twin Hits released a lot of tracks credited to PPX. In fact all of the releases on the label (that I have seen) were produced by PPX so Twin Hits might well have been Chalpin's own label. The label's output was also exclusively covers of recent hits, see the discography on www.45cat.com. Records were released in Australia and the USA. Looks like the label started in 1963 as the 16 May issue of the Australian newspaper "The Age" carried a Twin Hits ad which exclaimed "First Release!". If anyone owns any of these discs please get in touch.


Here's a list of info on tracks that I've been able to gather so far. If you have anything to add or corrections please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Rocky Pontoni - Fugitiva
45 "Fugitiva / Esta Noche Mi Amor, Esta Noche" (Vik 31Z-4009) Argentina 196?
The backing is credited to "Chet Malboro Y Su Orquesta"
Listen to on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttl6xt6zbdY

Chet Avery - Runaway
Split single with Jeff Mills:
45 "Jeff Mills - But I Do" / "Chet Avery - Runaway" (RCA 47-9350) Germany 1961
Listen to on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a52oGewdlpQ


Claire Lepage - Bang Bang
LP "Bang! Bang!" (Télédisc TD 361) 196?
"Bang! Bang! / Garçon Manque / J'entends Cette Musique / Le Coeur Qui Jazze / Le Jour Viendra / Il Est A Moi / L'Amour N'attend Pas / Comment Se Fait... / Un Jeune Homme Bien / Le Premier Chagrin D'Amour / Je Suis Triste / L'Amitié
The backing for "Bang! Bang!" is credited to Jerry De Villiers
Listen to on YouTube (Bang Bang): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M5XFRzPd5Q

Sylvie Vartan - Bang Bang
LP "La Reine De Saba" (RCA XLPL-1.7235) 1974
"La Reine De Saba / Love Is Blue / Hymne A L'amour / Les Feuilles Mortes / The Music Played / Les Moulins De Mon Couer / Holiday / Rock'N Roll Man / Ne Me Quitte Pas / Bang Bang / Dadou Ron Ron / Qui Saura"
The string parts sound the same as the other versions but there are additional instruments and the sound quality on this clip is poor. It could be a different mix of the same backing track with new overdubs or an alternate take, can anyone provide me with a better sounding version?
Listen to on YouTube (Bang Bang): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v3coPInmTQ

Sam Chalpin - Bang Bang

LP "My Father The Pop Singer" (ATCO 33-191) 1966?
"Leader Of The Pack / Satisfaction / Bang Bang / Dominique / Somewhere / I Want To Hold Your Hand / I Can't Stop Loving You / Michelle / Daydream / Batman"
Since this lp was recorded by Ed Chalpin and features his father Sam Chalpin on vocals all of the backing tracks on this record must be PPX productions. So there is a big possibility that there are more versions of the lp tracks with other artists' vocals out there in addition to "Bang Bang", Chalpin likely used whatever tracks were handy for this release.
Listen to on YouTube (Bang Bang): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9yemBvfFIw


Sam Chalpin - Somewhere

LP "My Father The Pop Singer" (ATCO 33-191) 1966?
"Leader Of The Pack / Satisfaction / Bang Bang / Dominique / Somewhere / I Want To Hold Your Hand / I Can't Stop Loving You / Michelle / Daydream / Batman"
Since this lp was recorded by Ed Chalpin and features his father Sam Chalpin on vocals all of the backing tracks on this record must be PPX productions. So there is a big possibility that there are more versions of the lp tracks with other artists' vocals out there in addition to "Bang Bang", Chalpin likely used whatever tracks were handy for this release.
Listen to on YouTube (Bang Bang): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9yemBvfFIw

Riff Corio - Somewhere?
Split single with The Trixies. I haven't heard this track but as it's labelled as a PPX production there's a very good chance that the backing track is the same one as on the Sam Chalpin lp:
45 "The Trixies - Popsicles And Icicles / Riff Corio - Somewhere" (Twin Hits TH-048) Australia 1963 4
"A PPX PRODUCTION" state both sides of the record.


Chet Avery - From A Jack To A King
Split single with Tim Reynolds:
45 "Chet Avery - From A Jack To A King / Tim Reynolds - Little Town Flirt" (Twin Hits TH-001) Australia 1963 3
"A PPX PRODUCTION" state both sides of the record.


Bernd Spier - Memphis Tennesee
Mentioned in Billboard 1 as an Ed Chalpin production
45 "Memphis Tennessee / Ohne Ein Bestimmtes Ziel (No Particular Place To Go)" (CBS 1618) in Germany in September 1965 2
Listen to on YouTube (Memphis Tennesee): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUOAlGIsUbw

The Hubs - Memphis?
Split single with Dan Gaynes. I haven't heard this track but as it's labelled as a PPX production there's a very good chance that the backing track is the same one as on the Bernd Spier single:
45 "Dan Gaynes - Ring Of Fire / The Hubs - Memphis" (Twin Hits TH-025) Australia 1963 5
"A PPX PRODUCTION" state both sides of the record.


Olivia Molina
According to Billboard 1 her releases on the "Peerless" -label contain PPX productions. The only disc by her on Peerless that I can find is this one so one or more backing tracks on this release probably originated from Chalpin:
EP "Juego De Palabras" (Peerless EPP623) Mexico 1965
"Juego De Palabras / Juego De Manos / Mi Pesadilla / Yo Te Quiero Mucho"
Listen to on YouTube (Juego De Palabras): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHggRGIh5A4
Listen to on YouTube (Juego De Manos):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoL6mrTgiNc
Listen to on YouTube (Mi Pesadilla):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQqnq3ZcIMQ
Listen to on YouTube (Yo Te Quiero Mucho):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cqgm8hfi3g

Mayte Gaos
Releases in Mexico

Chucho Avellanet
Releases in Puerto Rico

Michèle Richard
According to Billboard 1 her releases on the Météor-label in Canada contain PPX productions. Here are some of the Météor-releases, there are a lot more, unknown which of the tracks are PPX productions.

"Valse De Noêl / C'est Noêl Qui S'en Vient" (Météor 531) Canada 1959
Listen to on YouTube (Valse De Noêl) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs8LZTlLzPk

"Quand Le Film Est Triste !!! / Brise Doucement Notre Amour !" (Météor 318) Canada 1962
Listen to on YouTube (Quand Le Film Est Triste !!!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urFxkHOv2HM

"J'entends Siffler Le Train / Ce Que J'aime Aujourd'hui" (Météor 326) Canada 1963
Listen to on YouTube (J'entends Siffler Le Train) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tv6KJf0SES8

Mighty Sparrow
Releases on RCA Victor in Trinidad

These recording labels were listed by Billboard 1 without any artist names mentioned so PPX product is lurking out there somewhere on releases by these companies:

Zafiro, Spain
Silver, Italy
Teldec (RCA), Germany
Karusell, Scandinavia
Sonet, Denmark
Vic (RCA), Argentina
?, England
?, Chile
?, France
?, Belgium
?, Brazil

1 Billboard 1 Oct 1966
2 The label scans on the website www.45cat.com are stamped "14.9.1965"
3 listed on the website www.45cat.com
4 listed on the website www.45cat.com
5 listed on the website www.45cat.com