Curtis Knight & The Squires: You Can’t Use My Name: RSVP/PPX Sessions

1965-67 recordings featuring Hendrix as R&B sideman prior to superstardom.

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The title of this collection, released by Experience Hendrix, the company headed by Hendrix’s stepsister Janie, is apposite. Following Hendrix’s rapid ascent in 1967, entrepreneur and record producer Ed Chalpin insisted he had a binding contract between the guitarist and his company PPX.

He began issuing recordings Hendrix had made as a sideman to Curtis Knight, concurrent with Hendrix’s own official releases, to the confusion of fans. The dispute persisted until 2003 by which point Experience Hendrix, as is their wont, won out.

In the light of the dispute, one of the most fascinating historical aspects of these recordings is an audio extract, prior to Gloomy Monday, of Hendrix in the studio in August 1967, repeatedly asking Chalpin not to use his name in the marketing of these recordings, to bland, cursory reassurances from the producer.

As for the remainder, it’s so-so R&B – Gotta Have A New Dress is quaintly misogynistic even by the standards of the period – with Hendrix’s huge talent itching to explode. It’s given vent on self-composed instrumentals Knock Yourself Out and Hornet’s Nest, lava-like eruptions on a tame musical landscape.

The best track is the not entirely original How Would You Feel, an impassioned and eloquent cry against racism, which borrows heavily from Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, and predates Hendrix’s own molten, earth-conquering cover of that song at Monterey./o:p