Title - 'Live At Georgeís Club 20'
Artist - Curtis Knight [featuring Jimi Hendrix]
Known for his connection to Jimi Hendrix, Mont Curtis McNear aka Curtis Knight, was an American musician who sadly passed away in 1999. Originally being backed by a group of musicians he coined as Don Covay's Goodtimers, that all changed when he renamed them The Squires.
Now, as much as the recently released You Can't Use My Name The RSVP PPX Sessions (2015) from Curtis Knight & The Squires also came with the sales-inspiring tagline "feat. Jimi Hendrix," and as much as it was also released as an Authorized Hendrix Family Edition CD (through the Experience Handrix label), Dagger Records has now followed that up with another Curtis Knight [featuring Jimi Hendrix] album of cuts, Live At Georgeís Club 20 - December 1965 & January 1966.
Initially released on CD, but to be followed by a spectacular double vinyl LP version for Record Store Day on April 21st, 2017, this latest Hendrix-involved album has never officially been released in the U.S. before. So, that alone might well bring more eyes to the prize, so to speak, but that aside, these recordings showcase Hendrix's explosive guitar work and lead vocal performances that we all subsequently fell in love with.
Indeed, it was that very same on stage, live action passion for his chosen art that Animals bassist Chas Chandler witnessed less than a year before becoming his manager and moving him to England to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Then known as Jimmy James, the 23 year-old Hendrix was brought into his pre-Squires band the Lovelights by Curtis Knight and told to do what he does best. Listening to each one of these 15 tracks (given that the first is simply the grainy introduction and the last is a band outro), sure the tracks are raw, overly loud in places, distorted even, but the passion Hendrix was asked to bring is thread throughout like snake poison.
2) Killing Floor
3) Last Night
4) Get Out Of My Life Woman
5) Ainít That Peculiar
6) Mercy, Mercy
7) Iím A Man
8) Driving South
9) Baby What You Want Me To Do
10) Iíll Be Doggone
11) Sweet Little Angel
12) Letís Go, Letís Go, Letís Go
13) Traveliní To California
14) What I Say
15) Land Of 1000 Dances
16) Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)
17) Band Outtro
Already somewhat of a veteran, having already toured and recorded with, among others, the Isley Brothers and Little Richard, Hendrix controlled everything there was to on stage over these live recorded gigs in late 1965, early 1966. Indeed, these recordings, all made at Georgeís Club 20 in Hackensack, NJ serve today as a musical flashback to a time when live music meant not just lined up starring at the band playing, whilst only your feet moved. For, and as can be witnessed on the back cover art of this incredible release, the band played on whilst the audience danced their hearts out, not one person stood still watching Hendrix and the guys performing.
A testament to the band and the danceability of their music, if you look closely enough at that aforementioned back cover art, you'll also see Hendrix is "playing" his guitar with his teeth! I kid you not. I mean, had you have known who this 23 year-old was going to turn out to be, you would have stood gazing, awestruck at just that musical feat alone. But no, he was just a brought-into-the-mix guitar man, a slinger for hire at the time, and he did his job to a tee for Knight and his guys.
As for "his guys", for these performances the Lovelights were bassist Ace Hall, drummer Ditto Edwards and saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood, who all blended perfectly with Hendrix to bring the crowd en mass of hip shakin' rock and roll, soul and blues songs of the day.
After the aforementioned introduction we get a blistering cover of Howliní Wolfís 'Killing Floor' which is then backed by both 'Last Night' and a down and dirty 'Get Out Of My Life Woman.' 'Ain't That Peculiar' is a brilliant guitar fest of a song, and that in turn is followed by Don Covay's 'Mercy, Mercy,', 'I'm A Man', 'Driving South' (Albert Collins), and then 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' and a stunning rendition of the Marvin Gaye hit 'I'll Be Doggone.'
The delightful 'Sweet Little Angel' is up next and is a pure joy to behold and then comes the unadulterated rock 'n' roll beats of 'Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go', with 'Travelin' To California', Ray Charles' 'What I Say' and Chris Kennerís 'Land of 1000 Dances' up next. The frenetic 'Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)' is the last cut of these live recordings, before the band outro is played for the rapturous applause that can be heard for them that night.
With all the 17 tracks newly mixed by Eddie Kramer, the new CD has had its audio lovingly restored by removing all overdubs and effects, so fans can now hear what Chas Chandler did in that nightclub over a half century ago. It should also be known that Bernie Grundman mastered Live At Georgeís Club 20 1965 & 1966 for optimum audio fidelity.
This is an incredible, nostalgic and delightfully rock 'n' roll blues album that, I for one, am so happy has at long last been allowed to come to the fore of our music attentions. Furthermore, it is a rich reminder to the new generation that real music was being made a long time before all this modern day, regurgitated sh*t was, sadly, marketed as being the songs of this decade!