Early recordings of Jimi Hendrix when he was a guitarist in the R&B group Curtis Knight and the Squires will finally be released with the authorization of his estate's Experience Hendrix LLC in a new collection titled You Can’t Use My Name: Curtis Knight & The Squires (featuring Jimi Hendrix) The RSVP/PPX Sessions. The 14-track album is due out March 24th.
The album's title is a play on the decades-long battle Hendrix's management – first Chas Chandler, then his own estate – faced to sever a 1965 contract the guitarist signed with PPX Records to be Knight's sideman. After Hendrix and his Experience struck it big with Are You Experienced?, PPX packaged Hendrix's Knight tracks as its own album while playing up Hendrix's role in the Squires. A similar PPX album called Got That Feeling was also planned for the U.K. in 1968 before the courts stepped in and barred the release, with Hendrix himself calling it "musically worthless."
The battle of the Knight tapes raged on for decades until last July, when Experience Hendrix and Sony's Legacy division acquired the rights of 88 studio recordings Hendrix made with Curtis Knight and the Squires between 1965 and 1967. After years of unauthorized releases, Experience Hendrix planned to officially release what's considered an important step in Hendrix's ascension from sideman to guitar god.
"We are extremely delighted to now be in a position to offer these rare, historic recordings," Jimi's sister and Experience Hendrix president and CEO Janie Hendrix said in a statement. "What makes them so special is that they provide an honest look at a great artist during the pivotal time when he was on the cusp of his breakthrough, a time when Jimi's number one priority was playing and recording, and this set captures him doing just that, both as a collaborator and an innovator. They are more than just recordings, they represent a significant segment in the timeline of Jimi's musical existence."
After acquiring the rough master tapes, those 88 Knight studio recordings were placed in the hands of Hendrix's longtime engineer Eddie Kramer, who worked on all three Jimi Hendrix Experience albums as well as authorized posthumous LPs like Valleys of Neptune and First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Kramer was tasked with cleaning up the tapes and delivering one cohesive collection spotlighting Hendrix's early work.
"We've taken every single performance as far back as we could go in terms of source and we came up with the best original performances, stripped them back and re-mixed them and made what we feel is the best representation of those recordings," Kramer said in a statement. "It's a continuing archeological sound dig which is to say you sweep away the dirt with a fine brush and find the gem hidden therein. It's what I call 'forensic audio' where we use every available piece of outboard gear and plug-ins and whatever tools are available to us. It's been hours and hours of intensive work but it's truly been fun to find the best performances and to make sense out of them."
You Can’t Use My Name: Curtis Knight & The Squires (featuring Jimi Hendrix) The RSVP/PPX Sessions
1. "How Would You Feel"
2. "Gotta Have A New Dress"
3. "Don’t Accuse Me"
4. "Fool For You Baby"
5. "No Such Animal"
6. "Welcome Home"
7. "Knock Yourself Out [Flying On Instruments] "
8. "Simon Says"
9. "Station Break"
10. "Strange Things"
11. "Hornet’s Nest"
12. "You Don’t Want Me"
13. "You Can’t Use My Name"
14. "Gloomy Monday"