Artist: Curtis Knight & The Squires
Album: You Can’t Use My Name
Label: Legacy Recordings
Release Date: 03/24/2015
Looking back it may feel as though Jimi Hendrix came straight from outer space and ascended to rock superstardom, but these recordings prove otherwise. On You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP/PPX Sessions we are able to hear Jimi in a way that we never have before: in the supporting role. This album consists of fourteen tracks recorded with Curtis Knight and provides previously overlooked context into Jimi’s legendary career. By the end of 1966 Hendrix’s own career had gained tremendous momentum and by the Summer of Love he was at the forefront of the hippie movement.
Many of these recordings were made available to the public in bootleg form as early as 1965, against Jimi’s wishes. This led to a nearly five decade long battle to formally release these recordings, and we now finally have them courtesy of Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings. The majority of the tracks here are from 1965 and allow the listener to hear the foundation on which Jimi’s own discography was built.
This collection features a great opening track, “How Would You Feel,” which pays homage to Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” both musically and lyrically, albeit with one notable difference. It deals directly with racism in America, urgently asking the listener how they would feel being treated as a second-rate citizen. While this would be nothing groundbreaking in 2015, it is certainly potent when considering that it was recorded at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
“Gotta Have A New Dress” does an excellent job of providing context for Jimi’s later work, acting as somewhat of a stepping-stone between Chuck Berry and the Hendrix that we are all accustomed to. The solo is pronounced and functions as a minor glimpse into the future of rock n’ roll.
One of the most interesting moments on this album is the 57-second clip, “You Can’t Use My Name,” for which the album was titled. It isn’t a song but rather a recording of Hendrix explicitly stating that Curtis Knight cannot use his name on the record to help promote it. It is almost as if Jimi can see into the future of his own career and knows that these sessions will simply pay a few of his bills along the way.
Unfortunately we will never know what incredible music Jimi Hendrix would have made had he lived past 27, but these recordings allow us to listen back to before he was the guitar-burning, trailblazing virtuoso we have come to respect and admire. This album is not Are You Experienced? and certainly isn’t Electric Ladyland, but it is a must-have for any die hard fan of the psychedelic pioneer that helped define the 1960’s.