March 19th 1973

“Got pulled out of assembly by Jim Barry – only a homework check (phew)” / “Went up Nigs in the evng. He lent me Sing Bro Sing + Rainbow Bridge”

I must have had some kind of guilt complex if the “phew” comment is to be believed? What WAS a homework check anyway? Was it to check on me, or the teachers teaching me?

I have already written as eloquently as I can possibly can about the delights of Edgar Broughton Band’s “Sing Brother Sing” album.

Rainbow Bridge” was my 15-year-old introduction to rock god Jimi Hendrix.

Rainbow Bridge” was – supposed to be – the soundtrack to a 1972 documentary film by Chick Wein. The film features footage from a free concert Hendrix performed at on the island of Maui in 1970… just months before his tragic death in a London apartment.

However, the “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” tag given to the album release is something of a dubious misnomer. The sound recording from the concert itself was of such appalling quality that other Hendrix tapings were instead cobbled together to form the finished result.

Because of this, the album – as was – has never been released on (official) CD or other formats. I’ll guess it’s all mired in what the music industry likes to call “legal difficulties’.

To be honest, I can’t remember much about the album at all… bar two important bits. I do recall that the album started off with Hendrix’s awesome “Dolly Dagger“, but that as good as that opener may have been, it paled in comparison to his immense string-bending interpretation of the “Star Spangled Banner“.

Indeed, so memorable is his version of the USA national anthem (I have a nasty ‘american unfriendly’ habit of calling it the “Star Bungled Spanner“) it is Hendrix’s I judge all other versions against whenever I am ‘forced’ to rise from my seat and ‘turn to the flag’ at the Cincinnati Reds stadium prior to baseball games I attend. Therefore that boy scout troop doing it on trumpets and that elderly ‘operatic’ duo don’t stand a chance.

I don’t think there’s ever been – nor will there ever be – a more gifted and entirely natural guitar player than Hendrix. The guy used to tune his guitar whilst he was playing for goodness sake!

However, I’ve never been entirely convinced his recorded output ever matched his considerable skills and there’s not one Hendrix album I personally consider to be his “best”. Instead, each and every one either seems to cram too many ‘filler’ cuts or, worse, are badly – and muddily – produced. I do have a favourite however, and it is the peculiar posthumous release “Loose Ends“, which is pretty much a compilation of studio outtakes. It’s another album mired in those tenuous “legal difficulties” – for whatever reason – and has likewise been absent from any official release schedule since the advent of CD. I won’t pontificate about it too much – I am sure it will turn up as a feature in a future diary entry – suffice to say that the version of “The  Stars that Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice” that appears on it never fails to blow my tiny little mind whenever my trusty iPod pulls it out of shuffle.

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