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Deleted History: Jimi Hendrix – The Cry of Love

May 1, 2010 1 comment

A Look at our Favorite Out-of-Print Records

Since the dawn of recorded music, titles have been going out of print. Be it for legal reasons, artists/label disputes, or something as simple as poor sales, production will one day come to a short and simple stop. Often, it’s simply a bad record, a minor stain on an otherwise beautiful tapestry of genius and toil. A loss no music nerd needs lament. But what about the good music? What about those amazing titles whose sparse presence is a major tragedy to music lovers everywhere? And what are those titles that we, the devoted fans, listeners, and consumers, are missing out on? What historical gaps have been created, and for what reasons? Are we really missing out, or is it truly for the best? Often, the loss is more of a tragedy than we’d like to admit. But an end in production does not need to turn otherwise great albums into forgotten pieces of useless plastic. Rather this great music should be heralded by the devoted fans, keeping it alive for more generations of music lovers to enjoy. With that, Streetlight Records is proud to present Deleted History.

Jimi Hendrix- The Cry of Love

by Hans Schroeder

Jimi Hendrix is a name that’s been passing through a lot of lips lately. After the recent release of his eleventh posthumous studio album, Valleys of Neptune, people seem to be dusting off those older records, reminding themselves of what amazing work he was able to produce. Tracks such as “Foxey Lady,” “Hey Joe,” and “VooDoo Chile” still strike listeners with the same intensity as always before. However, after a few rounds of Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland, the Hendrix fan finds himself looking at the bulk of his catalogue: the Hendrix Posthumous Releases.

Although enjoyable, the cuts released after Jimi’s untimely death in 1970 slowly fade from the Jimi we all know and love. The remaining material has been so cherry picked, and in some cases reworked, that much of the Hendrix soul is entirely lost. However, one of the posthumous albums stays strong with Jimi’s sound, while giving the listener an idea of where he wanted to travel later in his musical career. Released in May of 1971 (just eight months after his death), The Cry of Love is a shining star in the Hendrix catalogue.

After the original Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded in 1969, Hendrix began playing with new musicians. It was during this time that he recorded the famous Band of Gypsies live album, backed by drummer Buddy Guy of the Electric Flag, and Jimi’s old Army buddy and bassist Billy Cox. Although the project was moderately successful, Hendrix (and his label) decided that he should reunite the Experience, while keeping Billy Cox on. Experience member Mitch Mitchell was called back and Jimi gathered material to take into the studio. Together, they started work on his new album.

When discussed with friends, Hendrix stated that the project would be a double album titled First Rays of a New Rising Sun. The album was to be a return to Jimi’s more heavy rock tracks found on Are You Experienced and Axis, while letting him move forward into a jam-rock setting, using hard rock heads as bookends between extended solo guitar work. Hendrix had used Electric Ladyland to test psychedelic landscapes; an absolute departure from what he had recorded previously. When these tracks are heard, it’s apparent that he had found a balance between hard rock, and experimental psychedelic solos, while also returning to musical elements of his rhythm and blues days.

Shortly after completing much of the work on the upcoming album, Jimi died of a sleeping pill overdose. His remaining recordings were left in the hands of his label, managers, and lawyers. His label, Reprise Records still wanted to release the anticipated record, and selected ten tracks. The release was entitled The Cry of Love. It’s on this album that some of his most well known songs were first heard. Classic heavy tracks such as “Freedom” and “Ezy Ryder” are contained on this gem. Additionally, it’s where we start to hear Jimi’s new direction. “Straight Ahead” has a verse and chorus just like any other Hendrix tune, but this one’s just a little different. The song is introduced with an impressive psychedelic funk riff, setting the listener up for the deep guitar solos that are heard later in the track. “Astro Man” is a similar track, containing some of Jimi’s hippest shredding.

Despite the fact that everything released after Hendrix died is still great music, The Cry of Love feels the most like an actual Jimi album. It wasn’t exactly what he wanted to release, but it was the closest that his people could muster together. The Cry of Love was discontinued in the mid-nineties, around the same time that his family was granted rightful control over his music. In 1997, a collection was released using Jimi’s original idea for the title, First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Although an excellent collection, First Rays… lacks the potency of The Cry of Love. All the tracks are there, but the order is shuffled around, and they’re scattered amongst cuts from two other of his posthumous albums. First Rays… is still definitely a worthwhile item, but there is something special to The Cry of Love. Since it was released so close to his death, it feels like a Hendrix album. Not a collection, not an anthology, not anything other than something he himself would want to assemble and release to the public. The Cry of Love is a strong statement; a reminder to us Hendrix fans that he was more than just a musician. That he was an artist, and a progressive thinker. It’s a wonderful album, one that leaves many of us wondering what he could have made had he been around long enough to keep releasing records.

Deleted History: Prince – The Black Album

April 20, 2010 1 comment

Deleted History: A Look at Our Favorite Out-of-Print Records

Since the dawn of recorded music, titles have been going out of print. Be it for legal reasons, artists/label disputes, or something as simple as poor sales, production will one day come to a short and simple stop. Often, it’s simply a bad record, a minor stain on an otherwise beautiful tapestry of genius and toil. A loss no music nerd needs lament. But, what about the good music? What about those amazing titles whose sparse presence is a major tragedy to music lovers everywhere? And what are those titles that we, the devoted fans, listeners, and consumers, are missing out on? What historical gaps have been created, and for what reasons? Are we really missing out, or is it truly for the best? Often, the loss is more of a tragedy than we’d like to admit. But an end in production does not need to turn otherwise great albums into forgotten pieces of useless plastic. Rather this great music should be heralded by the devoted fans, keeping it alive for more generations of music lovers to enjoy. With that, Streetlight Records is proud to present Deleted History.

Prince – The Black Album

by Hans Schroeder

It was 1987, and Prince was at the top of his game. He had spent the first part of the decade hard at work in the studio, creating classic albums such as 1999 and the classic Purple Rain. After the release of the wildly successful double-album, Sign o’ the Times, Prince went back into the studio once again to record what would go down in history as The Black Album.

A change of direction for the young star was taken for the recording of The Black Album. Many critics believed that he had become too pop and fashion oriented, a notion that Prince intended to challenge. Using much more of a strong funk and R ‘n’ B sound, as well as pulling influence from hip-hop producers of the time, Prince put together an eight-track album of sexy dance anthems, and unique instrumentals.

Although nearly forgotten by fans, The Black Album contains some of Prince’s heaviest cuts. “Two Nigs United for West Compton” is a unique instrumental, complete with an extra funky beat and hip horn arrangements. Additionally, the album contains some classic slow jams, while keeping true to the record’s generally sinful theme. “Le Grind” is a dance chart so sex-driven, it’s almost an ominous tale of what often happens between two people after dancing all night at the club.

But while most of the album can be defined as a heavy party record, there is one track that sticks out from the rest. “Bob George” is a monologue from a jealous and hateful gangster who kills his woman because she’s seeing another man. The track, while being a disturbing story of murder and abuse, lets the artist acknowledge the fact that he had heard what his critics had to say of him. Our gangster’s monologue is accompanied by Prince’s interpretation of a hip-hop beat, showing that he was able to look forward with his music in unexpected ways. Other critics of lesser details such as his fashion sense or his musicianship skills are acknowledged in what comes across as a mocking sense. While chastising his woman, Prince has his gangster character refer to himself as “that skinny mother f*cker with the high voice.” Once the track is over, Prince brings the beat back around, finishing the album with “Rock Hard in your Funky Place,” complete with high voice and all.

The Black Album was complete and set for release. Warner Brothers had pressed 500,000 copies, and distributed promos. However, just weeks before it was set to come out, Prince had a change of heart. The violent and sexual lyrics of The Black Album conflicted with Prince’s emerging spiritual awareness. Our young artist had convinced himself that the lyrics were evil, and that the album as a whole was the work of the devil inside of him. Prince went back into the studio, and eight weeks later had a new album finished; the moderately successful Lovesexy. As for The Black Album, the copies made were destroyed, the project was scrapped, and The Black Album was to be forgotten.

Despite it’s withdrawal, 100 or so promotional copies were still in circulation around Europe. Given its controversial status, the title became a heavily desired item, and bootleg copies were then manufactured. For years now, fans and collectors alike have heavily sought after bootlegs of The Black Album.

After seven years of the project living in Warner Brothers’ vaults, it was released in 1994 as a limited edition compact disc. For a brief window, the public was able to legally own a copy of what many consider to be the greatest funk album of the ‘80s. Warner Brothers kept the item in print for only a short while before it was pulled back into the vaults, never to be released again. CD copies are still in circulation, and can range between fifteen and twenty dollars, a relatively high premium for a used CD. The famous bootleg LP copies are still out there, but are few and far between.

So why should we care about The Black Album? As a creator, Prince is an extremely prolific artist, having released over twenty studio albums, and charted countless singles. What would we be missing if The Black Album had never seen the light of day? Well, dear reader, we would be missing an entire era of Prince’s life. The album shines a far more piercing light than ever before on his sexuality and party scene tendencies, while proving his understanding of changing musical trends. The Black Album lets the listener know just how funky that man can get, and calls out all those who believed he was only making albums for the general public. Overall, The Black Album takes listeners to a new level of sexy funk. Its lack of availability truly is a sad loss for all those needing more Prince in their lives.