Archive for November 12th, 2008

Mitch Mitchell (1947-2008)

12 November 2008

Mitch Mitchell

John “Mitch” Mitchell, drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead in a Portland, OR hotel room early this morning. He was 61.

Widely acknowledged as one of rock’s best drummers, Mitchell played a key role in shaping and driving the JHE sound. He was primarily influenced by Jazz drummers such as Max Roach and Elvin Jones, but Mitchell was adept at a wide range of styles, enabling him to keep pace with Hendrix at all times, no matter if they were off to Saturn or the bottom of the sea. He anchored the landmark albums Are You Experienced?, Axis Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland, and was behind the kit for Monterey Pop, Woodstock, and Isle Of Wight.

Mitch Mitchell was no sideman. He was every bit as innovative and proficient on the drums as Hendrix was on guitar. Former Experience manager Chaz Chandler revealed how he and Hendrix came to choose Mitchell for the JHE over Aynsley Dunbar: “We actually tossed a coin and it came down for Mitch.” Good thing – they got one of the best in the business.

Listen: Fire

Listen: Manic Depression

[Both songs are from the album Live At Winterland]

Instant Classic: The Way I See It

12 November 2008

[Today: Raphael Saadiq fires up a Motown-fueled time machine…]

Raphael Saadiq | The Way I See It

Good from the first drop of the needle, The Way I See It is a welcome throwback to the Motown Sound® of the 1960’s. Rapheal Saadiq channels The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Jackson Five, and more into an album that could have dropped 40 years ago. But Saadiq – a former member of 90’s hit-makers Toni! Tony! Tone! and producer of Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Joss Stone and others – doesn’t just mimic the dusty sound of yesteryear, he matches his musical heroes hook for hook, layering in honeyed doo-wop harmonies, and creating the kind of no-filler album that could have been the soundtrack for my parents’ senior prom.

On his website, Saadiq reveals the unlikely inspiration for this album: “I was out of the country, cooling out in Costa Rica and The Bahamas. I was surfing and ran into people from all kinds of places… and I noticed everybody was listening to this classic soul music and when I came back home the music for this album flowed organically, naturally.” But that doesn’t mean that Saadiq just knocked the album out in a long weekend – he had the luxury of many months, and drew upon his considerable production skills, to re-create the sound and spirit of those golden oldies.

A minor quibble – wholly unnecessary cameos by Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z break the musical spell that Saadiq has worked so hard to weave. Wonder’s harmonica solo fits the mood just fine, except for the lavish (“I’d like to invite Mr Stevie Wonder to my album… come on Stevie!”) introduction that draws too much attention to itself. Jay-Z’s place here is more difficult to square away, but if his brand name appeal helps bring Saadiq’s neo-soul to the attention of a younger audience, then it’s well worth any Hova-related disassociation. Regardless, The Way I See It has me looking forward to spending more time with those old Motown albums, and picking up a little of that Bahamas vibe for my own self.

Listen: 100 Yard Dash

Listen: Sure Hope You Mean It

Listen: Keep Marchin’