Jimi Hendrix – Rainbow Bridge (1971)

FrontCover1Rainbow Bridge is a compilation album by American rock musician Jimi Hendrix. It was the second posthumous album release by his official record company and is mostly composed of recordings Hendrix made in 1969 and 1970 after the breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Despite the cover photo and subtitle Original Motion Picture Sound Track, it does not contain any songs recorded during his concert appearance for the 1971 film Rainbow Bridge.Rainbow Bridge is a compilation album by American rock musician Jimi Hendrix. It was the second posthumous album release by his official record company and is mostly composed of recordings Hendrix made in 1969 and 1970 after the breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Despite the cover photo and subtitle Original Motion Picture Sound Track, it does not contain any songs recorded during his concert appearance for the 1971 film Rainbow Bridge.
Continuing in the vein of The Cry of Love, the first official posthumous Hendrix album, Rainbow Bridge explores new guitar styles and textures. All the songs, except for a solo studio version of “The Star Spangled Banner”, are written by Hendrix and mostly performed with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox on bass.
The songs on Rainbow Bridge represent material in various stages of development and were never finalized or approved for release by Hendrix. Four of the songs on the album, along with the ten songs from The Cry of Love and three from War Heroes, were planned for Hendrix’s follow-up album to the live Band of Gypsys, released in March 1970. These songs were later included on Voodoo Soup in 1995 and First Rays of the New Rising Sun in 1997, which were attempts at completing the double album Hendrix was working on at the time of his death.

Despite the title, Rainbow Bridge was not a soundtrack to the film of the same name but rather a compilation of one live song and studio recordings from a number of sources between 1968 and 1970, including some for his planned but unfinished double album Hendrix01First Rays of the New Rising Sun. “Look Over Yonder” began as “Mr. Bad Luck” while Hendrix was performing in Greenwich Village, New York City, with his group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames in the summer of 1966. The version included on Rainbow Bridge was recorded by the Experience in 1968.[5] Two songs by the Band of Gypsys, “Room full of Mirrors” and “Earth Blues” date from 1969, although the latter has subsequent drum overdubs by Mitchell. “The Star Spangled Banner” is a 1969 solo studio recording by Hendrix. The remainder of the songs were recorded with the “Cry of Love” group (Mitchell and Cox) in 1970: “Dolly Dagger”, “Pali Gap”, and “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)”. “Hear My Train A Comin'” is a live recording from the first show on May 30, 1970, at the Berkeley Community Theatre. An edited version appears in the 1971 concert film Jimi Plays Berkeley.
The album was the second to be produced by Eddie Kramer and Mitch Mitchell, with John Jansen assisting. It was released in October 1971 in the US, and the following month in the UK where it reached numbers 15 and 16 respectively in the album charts. “Dolly Dagger” with “The Star Spangled Banner” as the B-side was released as a single in the US in October 1971. It appeared at number 74 in the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. In 2014, the original Rainbow Bridge album was reissued in both CD and LP formats.
According to Setting The Record Straight by John McDermott with Eddie Kramer, Izabella and Stepping Stone were pulled from the track listing in the final stages and replaced with the live version of Hear My Train A Comin’ from Berkeley. Izabella and Stepping Stone were instead used the improve the next posthumous release War Heroes per Mike Jeffery. Bleeding Heart was also considered but ultimately used on War Heroes. In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone magazine, Tony Glover wrote favorably of the songs on side one, particularly the “really majestic version” of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Robert Christgau said in a retrospective review that The Cry of Love (1971) had highlighted Hendrix’s abilities as a songwriter, but Rainbow Bridge showcased his guitar playing:
Rich stuff, exploring territory that as always with Hendrix consists not merely of notes but of undifferentiated sound, a sound he shapes with a virtuosity no one else has ever achieved on an electric instrument. (by wikipedia)

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Back when Rainbow Bridge was originally released, it was actually among the best of the posthumous Hendrix releases. Billed as “the original motion picture soundtrack” (it wasn’t, really), it was a mix of excellent, finished studio tracks and a couple of live tracks. Despite this, it’s understandable why it didn’t appeared in the digital realm until 2014 (officially, at least).

Once the estate went back to the Hendrix family in the ’90s, three of the tracks from Rainbow Bridge were used on the album First Rays of the New Rising Sun, which had previously only existed as Jimi’s hand-written track listing. The remaining tracks were orphaned out on various box sets and compilations. So while all the tracks on Rainbow Bridge have been made available elsewhere, it’s nice to finally have it assembled the way the original LP was, with excellent remastered sound (not just for the old-timers who had the LP the first time around, but for others who don’t necessarily want to shell out for the box set needed to gather these tracks). Highlights include overlooked gems like “Pali Gap” and Jimi’s rarely heard studio version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which is made of multi-tracked guitars and basses. (by Sean Westergaard)

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Personnel:
Billy Cox (bass)
Jimi Hendrix (guitar, vocals) backing vocals
Mitch Mitchell (drums)
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Buddy Miles (drums on 04., background vocals on 02.)
Noel Redding (bass on 06.)
Juma Sultan (percussion on 01., 03. + 06.)
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background vocals:
The Ghetto Fighters (Albert Allen and Arthur Allen) on 01.
The Ronettes (Veronica Bennett, Estelle Bennett, Nedra Talley) on 02.

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Tracklist:
01. Dolly Dagger (Hendrix) 4:45
02. Earth Blues (Hendrix)  4:20
03. Pali Gap (Hendrix) 5:05
04. Room Full Of Mirrors (Hendrix) 3:17
05. Star Spangled Banner (studio version) (Smith)  4:07
06. Look Over Yonder (Hendrix) 3:28
07. Hear My Train A Comin’ (live) (Hendrix) 11:15
08. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) (Hendrix) 6:05

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Recording details:
Tracks 1, 3 and 8:
recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York City, July 1, 1970

Track 2:
recorded at Record Plant Studios, New York City, December 19, 1969 and Electric Lady Studios, July 1970

Track 4:
recorded at Record Plant Studios, November 17, 1969 and Electric Lady Studios, July 1970

Track 5;
recorded at Record Plant Studios, March 18, 1969

Track 6:
recorded at TTG Studios, Hollywood, October 22, 1968

Track 7:
recorded at Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, California, May 30, 1970 (first show)

 

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