Jimi Hendrix: A taxi story questioned and why it is likely that the Polydor alternate stereo mix's origins may well have been in plain sight for 50 years!
The following appeared first in Jimpress #113 [Cover date,Autumn 2018] in a slightly edited form. here's the piece as I wrote it, a little raw but hopefully it should have you think for yourselves.
Taxi For Hendrix……………….
Just ask the Axis!
Well I will ask you, just what do you believe? Did Jimi leave a reel of tape in a Taxi Cab that morning in London? Or did Jimi just lose it / them someplace else on his journey back home? Did Jimi take the reels of tape from the studio behind Chas Chandler’s back? Did Jimi take the two reels of stereo mixed master tape to a party to play for friends? Was the lose a deliberate act, from which more mixing time could be achieved? Is Chas as daft as he is presented here?
In fact for me, the only real questions that need to be answered would be, did Jimi or anyone else for that matter actually lose any reel or reels of tape and why do we have two, albeit slightly different, stereo mixes of the same album?
The reality is we may never know the answers to either of these two key questions to any degree of certainty. I feel that if we could answer one of the questions we would most likely be able to answer the other as I fully believe they are of one and the same event.
What we have been presented with for fifty years are variations on a theme! In as much as the lost reel of tape story goes at least.
As we await the definitive vinyl* releases of this album from Experience Hendrix later this year , definitive in mono and the so called “original” stereo mix that appeared initially on Track Records and Reprise Records back in 1967 and 1968 respectively, we should take time to consider the stories, rumours and Chinese whispers created over half a century and hold them against the three first-hand accounts we have from those that were there and involved.
*The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Axis. Bold As Love (stereo AUHQR 0001[UPC 753088800115] and mono AUHQR 0002 [UPC 753088800214]) Analogue Productions. Note that the mono (limited to 1500) has been sold out pre order while the stereo (with a limit of 5000) is still available for pre order as of writing. The releases will be accompanied with a “16-page booklet featuring recording information from the sessions at Olympic Studios in London and an essay written by Brad Tolinski, former editor of Guitar World Magazine”. How informative and revealing the information and essay are, is yet to be known!
Pick a book, any Hendrix book [well not quite!] and it’ll have reference to a lost reel of tape, sometimes lost in a taxi cab sometimes simply eluded to being left in a taxi cab, always from returning from a party that Jimi attended and had played the reels of stereo mixed master recordings of the new album to friends! Makes great copy if for no other reason it retains the vagueness of a story so enables a degree of “poetic licence” from an author.
It was fascinating to read the variations from various publications from down the years from some of those authors;
Eyewitness Hendrix. Johnny Black; even here we have the claim of the reel being left [by Jimi] in a taxi and yet Black continues with a direct quote from Chas Chandler that mentions a taxi cab but NOT that Jimi left it in the cab!
Black Gold. Steven Roby; appears to embellish the taxi cab story and also goes on to directly quote [in this instance] Eddie Kramer, in this instance Kramer states the taxi cab theory along with Jimi losing ALL of the mixes! This is a 2002 publication. *Kramer is third party to the tape reel(s) being lost story, but is key in the follow up of the re-mixing.
Musician. Keith Shadwick; purports to the taxi theory but does progress to the fact that Hendrix deliberately lost the reel to “buy more time” on this album.
A Visual Documentary. Tony Brown; The closest we have to quoting Chas from the South Bank Show comment I could find.
Electric Gypsy. Harry Shapiro; Here we have an introduction of the “anonymous” comment; this sort of introduction always helps variations! We have the unidentified technician quoting a story told to him by Chas. A lot of the usual Blah Blah, Woof Woof we have come to expect surrounding accounts of the Axis mixes, lost or alternate!
Just a select few publications that is readily accessible. But it is important to understand just what made the “lost in a taxi” piece of the story stick in so many of our heads to such a degree that it seems like it is a matter of fact?
Often this happens when we get a story continually repeated and in such a way by very respected and knowledgeable scholars of Hendrix. In this instance, I feel John McDermott may well be “guilty” of a little poetic licence of his own. Of course, he didn’t start the story, we look to Chas and Jimi himself for that and we don’t hang anything on John as he simply continues the story with his take on events. Well that should be in the plural as John presented slightly differing takes in his two [to date] publications. We need to be aware that McDermott made reference to the “lost” reel in a recent  internet interview and he appears to presents a degree of doubt regard the story here, maybe future accounts will be revised?
So, McDermott’s two takes on events.
Setting The Record Straight:
For four days, Hendrix, Chandler and Kramer labored over the tapes before finally finishing during the early hours of the 31st – Halloween. Somehow and –even now- no one is exactly sure how, Hendrix proceeded to lose the mixes.
Somehow, after this lengthy session concluded, Hendrix managed to lose the mixes for side one. Apparently, Hendrix had intended to take the masters home. “He went off to a party and took the masters with him” says Chandler. “Coming back, he left one of the boxes in a taxi. It was all scheduled for release! So we rang up Eddie and went into Olympic the next night and mixed the entire A -side of the album again, all in one night.”
So, so much for presenting a story!
Here’s what we know and this is from the only two people who can really inform us of events from that time. I use “know” in a very lose way, as in “know what we are informed directly”. What is important to remember is the fact that at this point (of recording and mixing of the album) Jimi was still living with Chas at 43 Upper Berkeley Street after they had moved from 34 Montagu Square in late March.
Hendrix, from the only direct comment I could find from him, appearing in Rolling Stone March 1968; "The changes in music between the two records are for you to decide. We're just playing the way we feel and if you want to sit up here all day and play both our records and listen to the changes and say 'oh yeah, here's a change, remember when we did that!' then we sit around and pat ourselves on the back or either kick each other in the ass. That's what we do. We make records for the public to hear. We cut the record in just 16 days. It was mixed beautifully, but we lost the original mix so we had to re-mix it. Chas and I and the engineer, Eddie Kramer, all of us had to re-mix it the next morning within 11 hours and it's very hard to do that. We're going to take more time. We're in the process of recording now. We're going to do another 'period' album. We've got maybe 5 tracks and when we get about 15 or 18, we'll release it."
Chandler, from the recorded interview for South Bank Show, circa October 1989; “Axis. Bold as Love was maybe [recorded and mixed in] 80 hours in the studio. In fact, when we did Axis. Bold As Love we brought the master tapes home this night from the studio and Jimi went off to a party and took them with him to play for some friends. These are the masters! Come back in a taxi he lost the B side somewhere. Got back with only the A side of the album. So we had to go in and we had made arrangements for cutting time and we went back in to the studio the next night and mixed the whole album, the whole album again in four and a half hours”
There you have it, the basis of the story along with a select few variations and all.
A little look outside of books turned up an interesting comment in the liner note essay from Jym Fahey [MCA and Legacy editions of the Axis release.] and this suggests that it was Chas who took the tapes from the studio and not Hendrix.
Interestingly, even these two accounts from John McDermott don’t add up just as the variations have altered the fundamental to suit other “facts”. The “lost mixes” become the lost B side over a period of twenty years. The lost B side becomes the lost A side as we can account for that much more easily as we have accounts of re mixing at least two A side tracks from Eddie Kramer. Ultimate Hendrix details both If 6 Was 9 and EXP.
A mention of a taxi in 1989 becomes a fact [or at least presented as a fact] a further 15 years later!
Here’s a couple more questions we should consider; Is Chas that naïve as to “allow” Jimi to take the un-copied mixed master reels to a party? Would he in fact allow Jimi to have even taken them from the studio in the first instance? I never had Chandler down as naïve so I struggle with this being even remotely applicable here.
Here’s some more questions we should also consider; Why have we no account of anyone hearing the yet to be released album at a party? For me, this would have been a great story to boast about. Just who’s party was it and where?
Do we need to take into account Jimi’s interview with Meatball Fulton? Fulton interviewed Hendrix late 1967 ………
Meatball Fulton interview:
Jimi; “And like see, like we’re recording and everything and then all of a sudden something happens and it just comes out all screwed up. You just get so mad, you just don’t want to know about it anymore. Like our next LP, it just, it, every tracks gonna have to be right or else I’m just, you know, just gonna forget about it. I mean, well not forget about it, that’s the way if, you know, you just say that”.
I throw this out as it is clear Hendrix is displaying a degree of dissatisfaction regard the albums. Be it recording, mixing or mastering he is clearly unhappy at being rushed.
If we take the lost reel or mixes or whatever as fact, why do we not have account of / from someone looking for the missing tape(s)? Retracing steps to the party, contacting the cab firm? Someone at the Amin office would have undertaken this, no? Of course, the answer is to simply dive straight into remixing the WHOLE album? The WHOLE album and not the lost A or is it B side that had claim to be lost?
Hendrix alludes to mixing the entire album as he references “the mixes” and “it” and not a specific side. Chas says “side B” lost but we have detailed accounts of two tracks from side A being re-mixed! Chas also continues with the comment that the whole album was re-mixed; in fact he reinforces this comment by stating it twice!
While we have just two first-hand accounts of the story of a lost reel / entire mix we do get a third first-hand account of the re-mixing process via Eddie Kramer.
From this we now get support for the claim from Chas that though only “side A” made it home the entire album was re-mixed the following day as an Eddie Kramer quote of,” During the mixing of the Axis album, we ran into a problem because Jimi had lost the master tapes of all of the mixes we had done. We had to come back in and re-create everything”. Here is Kramer quoting the story of a lost mix master tape(s) as told to him by a “mumbling and apologetic” Hendrix the day of the re-mix session.
A fairly clear and concise comment here in respect of what was re-mixed, no ambiguity at all.
So what or who to believe? As the story alters to suit an author’s take or the teller’s own belief we add another layer to the whole thing and after such a length of time it is important to go back to the origins and comments from those who make these claims, Jimi and Chas. It is important to take into account those first-hand accounts and those of Eddie when we consider what occurred the following day if we are really serious about joining dots!
That claim that the entire album was re-mixed the following day really does rub the story up the wrong way! Why would anyone go to the lengths of re-mixing something they had no reason to?
I recall reading or hearing Eddie Kramer claim that only one stereo mix was ever made of the Axis album but as we know that is not true. Kramer made “final” mixes throughout the recording session, as detailed in Ultimate Hendrix. That, along with the detail of the WHOLE album receiving two “final, final” stereo mixes, Tuesday 31st October 1967 and 1st November 1967.
Is it coincidence we have two officially released stereo mixes in circulation and have had since 1967? On the one hand Track Records [1st December 1967] and Reprise Records [10th January 1968] both put out the same stereo mix as did Barclay [29th January 1968] with their stereo pressing.
While Polydor [Germany] , the company who happen to have paid for the recording sessions of this entire album, put out what is often referred to as the “safe” mix, a rather confusing term so I’ll reference it as the Alternate Stereo Mix, on either the 1st or 8th December 1967.
Track would have likely used the master with Barclay receiving the copy. Though if Barclay had a copy tape, why then wait until 1968 to press and release the album? The US pressing from Reprise followed shortly into 1968. Did Reprise have access to the original master or did they cut from a copy tape?
Regardless of who had access to what at Reprise, Barclay and Track, Polydor Records who had funded the recording sessions appear to have had no final “original” mix tape to use! Polydor Germany was to issue this album pre-Christmas ’67. So with no original or copy to send to them what was to be done?
All that remained was the Alternate Stereo Mix, assuming that a) Chas was not as green as we take him for and b) the lost mix was never lost.
Maybe you think this is all a huge leap and I really don’t blame you for casting doubts on this opinion. But the whole time scale of the various countries release dates suggests this is a very likely account of events. Chas was a “canny lad” and knew the value of tape, given opportunity he would use that to what he saw as his advantage. Saving money was a huge advantage at this point.
Often debated are the differences in the stereo mixes from the two that appear in official circulation. I am unaware of the flat masters ever being made available outside of the UK in 1967 or ‘68, so that discounts any US or German influence on things. But crucial to me is listening to the differences.
I don’t hear an attempt to replicate something; I hear a different mix entirely even if the differences are slight. The other key point is that any other group of three people attempting to “replicate” this mix would not have it sound as it does; the overall sound is the same across both mixed tapes. To my ears, the two mixes were undertaken by the same “hands and ears”. Not only that I hear enough to suggest that these were all done at the same time in the same studio.
I have no doubt in my mind that Hendrix, Chandler and Kramer undertook both of the stereo mixes we now have.
Given we have some oddities with Are You Experienced were we find “fake” stereo via the use of enhancement even though we have a dedicated stereo mix available [in the USA], is it not that so far a move as to supplying Polydor with a different mix, albeit slightly different in some instances for release?
So for me and the more I looked into this the more convinced I was, that we do not have any lost tape, more a case of simply “put aside”. A “story” had to be presented to Polydor / the studio so a new mix could be paid for / created along with time “found”. Chas, not as green as he is being presented, was shrewd enough to get his money’s worth and re-use that alternate stereo mix tape.
Axis as a listen;
The stereo cut sounds very different per record we play, I had taken time to sit with something like twenty different pressings of this stereo title. This is not solely the different mixes but a lot to do with mastering. From wildly varying “silent” gaps in If 6 Was 9 or the missing swirling guitar intro’ on side two’s You Got Me Floating. One pressing I sat with, from Polydor Mexico, even presents If 6 Was 9 as two separate tracks. Placing the second part of the track (from the silent break through to the end) as track three on side A and the start of the track, running up to the silent break as the final track on the A side!
Another point of note, we find on both mixes of the album, an edit which I now take as being a splice on the multi-track tape, this can be heard on all pressings I have listened to (some more obvious than others) at about the 1:46 mark of Little Miss Lover.
As a tail piece I want to add that what you have read is a story, my story. I don’t claim it to be correct nor do I suggest that it represents any other persons “take” on accounts but I do feel it is more likely to be slightly more honest than a lot if not all that has so far been presented to us over fifty years. It does leave you with an opportunity to evaluate circumstances with a little more of an open mind and join your own dots as you see fit until we may well be presented with more detailed “facts” surrounding either of these key points.
I’d like to thank the general Hendrix community for their assistance, making note of the following folk that were kind enough to give me time, information, counter argument and opinion or simply the loan of an obscure vinyl pressing.
Niko Bauer, Doug Bell, Paul De Bie, Steve Elphick, Pete Harker, James Hawthorn, Bill Johnson, Stan Johnstone, Yazid Manou and Steve Rodham.
Dedicated to the memory of Malcom Stewart.
Additional notes for the AYE 2LP that Experience Hendrix first issued through MCA / Universal in 1997, in two separate guises.
JP #110 ran an article that covered the FNAC 2LP of Are You Experienced. It was highlighted to me that it was not as detailed as it could / should have been due to the fact I referenced an LP that actually had a variation, cosmetic to all intent and purpose. None the less here’s a little addition and a more complete listing of this release set is detailed here …………………… email@example.com
I mentioned that the FNAC was in essence a copy of the earlier MCA 1997 issue but I failed to detail that comment with which variation it was a copy of!
So when it comes to the vinyl, at least, we have two issues of the 2 LP AYE, on black vinyl from 1997. The reference was of course[!] in the article was to the UK “style” ’97 issue.
In 1997, MCA [Universal] / Experience Hendrix issued this as a two LP. The UK [Europe?] got the UK cover along with the original track listing as sides A/B. This release also included bonus material from the US album / singles on sides C/D. I have no doubt that both pressings were available to both markets but as they are essentially the same LP set, the customer is simply being given a different cover and running order.
What was over looked in the article was the fact we have a US counterpart to this EU release. As expected it is based on the Reprise US issue. The ’97 issue has the US cover as front /rear of the gatefold. The inner gatefold and booklet remains the same between the US and EU 1997 issues of course. We also have the music content of the US ’97 pressing mirroring the Reprise over sides A/B. With sides C/D including the three tracks removed from the original UK pressing plus some single material added.
Basically, a rejigged running order as both of the 1997 releases have the same content musically. Both were mastered by the same engineers [EK / GM] at Sterling.
The US initial release of this was a numbered set [later issues carried the same serial number]with a red family sticker. It’s nice to see that they clearly state this is from digital source on that sticker but that is clear from playback anyway. That obviously makes the UK cover variant the same for its source.
A point of note, none of the following re-issues of this 2 LP set are either All Analogue or even Analogue mastered.
So, for more information on the various pressings just visit the JMH site [address above] or if you are reading this on that site, simply read on.
The US and the UK [EU?] get a 2LP set made up of their respective original releases, in stereo [for the most part] format. With each respectively having the “missing” three tracks added as bonus plus some material found on single 45’s, as a bonus to the bonus!
US ISSUE. AYE 2LP BLACK VINYL MCA / EH [numbered and unnumbered] MCA2-11602
Reversed mastering engineers initials on side C
A: MCA-11602-A MCA 12785 EXPERIENCE HENDRIX GM STERLING EK
B: MCA-11602-B MCA 12786 GM STERLING EK EXPERIENCE HENDRIX
C: MCA 12787 EXPERIENCE HENDRIX EK STERLING GM
D: MCA-11602-D2 MCA 12788 GM STERLING EK EXPERIENCE HENDRIX
UK ISSUE. AYE 2LP BLACK VINYL MCA / EH
Clearly missing the mastering initials of both Eddie Kramer and George Marino on these pressing!
A: MCA-12811-2 [STERLING STAMPED]
B: MCA-12812-2 [STERLING STAMPED]
C: MCA-12813-2. 2 [STERLING STAMPED]
D: MCA-12814-2 [STERLING STAMPED]
There is a US pressing from this year from Legacy but I have no DW detail for this pressing. It does have a catalogue number of 88697 62395 1 [Sticker has 88697 62395 1-S1].
MUSIC ON VINYL [MOV] AYE 2LP BLACK VINYL LEGACY / EH 0886976506612
A: 860283A MOVLP 077
B: 860282B MOVLP 077
C: 860282C MOVLP 077
D: 860282D MOVLP 077
SONY MUSIC AYE 2LP BLACK VINYL LEGACY [SONY MUSIC = EUROPEAN ARM] / EH 88875134501
A: 13985 1A 88875134501
B: 13985 1B 88875134501
C: 13985 1C 88875134501
D: 13985 1D 88875134501
SONY MUSIC FNAC AYE 2LP COLOURED VINYL LEGACY [SONY MUSIC = EUROPEAN ARM] / EH / FNAC 88985353331
A: 86028 3A MOVLP 077
B: 86028 2B MOVLP 077
C: 86028 2C MOVLP 077
D: 86028 2D MOVLP 077
Are You Experienced and Axis. Bold As Love .......................................... The "fake" Track Records issues from circa 1980 - 1981.
* Note that with Polydor releases some stamper detail is expressed as:
V = an upside down triangle in all stamped matrix detail for the Track Records and Polydor Records pressings while V is expressed as such.
% = a diamond
^ = a triangle
The following is garnered from a number of e mails dating back to 2008. Credit goes to Steve Elphick for his invaluable help and keeping of records! I never intended to do such a detailed overview of these releases but it has become painfully obvious that the lack of detail accessible to the general public is leading to some outrageous and overly inflated asking prices for what is nothing more than a re – issue LP with a “fake” Track Records label! The continued claim of a stereo Track Records Are You Experienced is totally false. I have also extended this review to take in Axis. Bold As Love. Though this is also clearly a later [and fake] Track Records issue as can be seen from the missing mono text from the inner gatefold. These records continue to be promoted for sale as both rare and original Track Records. Both claims are far from the truth.
Track Records ceased trading as a company in 1978 so any issue of any record with this label after this date is clearly not a Track Records issue regardless of who is utilising the label design, in these instances that’s Polydor. For those unsure, Polydor was the parent company of Track Records and it with the demise of Track Records GmbH was added to the Track Records label as Polydor Hamburg Germany took over the licencing from Track Records.
Both of these records, AYE and ABAL, were issued [probably] late 1980 and both had a gold stamp on the rear of the cover claiming that they were “promotional copies”. These [re-issued] albums also exist without that gold stamp and were most likely made available in early 1981. It does seem odd that the gold stamped issues appear to be more common and therefore [possibly] more easily available. There is a claim that a variant exists to the ABAL. The difference being the cover, one a gatefold and one a single sleeve. The latter is unconfirmed to me. It is claimed this single sleeve variant has a black back cover with a smaller display of the gatefold inner across the top half and a track listing across the bottom. The only ABAL I have encountered that sounds like this is the 1983 stereo Polydor SPELP 3. There is certainly no gold stamp on this copy.
So the detail:
Are You Experienced Track Records / Polydor Germany STEREO 613001
This appears in the Polydor AYE sleeve which clearly has JIMI HENDRIX printed across the top front, in white. This is not on the original Track Records release. The rear omits the track listing on this release while the track listing can be found on all other [known] Polydor issues, the missing listing replicate the original Track records rear cover. The record label itself clearly has text that indicates a German Polydor pressing, “POLDOR INT GMBH” which is not found on Track Records labels. Why would it? Track Records was a UK label after all but see reference note above about licencing.
The all telling matrix detail found in the dead wax for this pressing:
Side A: 2343073 A//1 V 420 11 12 06
Side B: 2343073 B//1 V 420 12 31 04
Coincidently, it is worth highlighting that these dead wax stampers mirror the one found in the so called 2fer set. That set was a double LP made up of AYE and ABAL. It should be noted that this release was from Polydor! The original mono Track AYE meanwhile has the following dead wax stamper marks:
B: 612001B [A SCRATCHED OUT] V1
We should also be aware of the fact that the fake Track Records issue has an all matt sleeve. Other pointers to be aware of; Be aware of vinyl weight, text / font which remain key points. The very thin vinyl is not what was used in 1967.
The content of the grooves is the same as the Backtrack 10 LP, the Mono [cover] / Mono [label] pressing.
Axis. Bold As Love Track / Polydor Germany Stereo 613003
In essence the detail from AYE can be applied here, thinner vinyl, text / font issues, added text to label. The content of the grooves for this “fake” Track Records issue is as for Backtrack 11, again I cannot confirm this. The clearly visible missing text from the inner bottom right hand corner is also a bit of a giveaway. Whereas the original states both Mono and Stereo with issue numbers this later pressing simply states Stereo along with the stereo reference number.
Likewise as with the AYE pressing we have a duplication of the dead wax detail from the 2fer release.
Side A: 2343074 A// 1V 420 1 4 (Note. The copy in review here has a very feint ‘2’ between the 1 and 4)
Side B: 2343074 B// 1V 1 22 9
The original stereo Track records pressing has:
A: 613003 A V 1
B: 613003 B V 1
There is one sure fire way to identify these LP’s from the original Track Records pressings from just a quick look. These re-issues feature the word STEREO clearly printed in full on the labels. We know that the original pressings came with the ST and 33 in two interlocking circles.
Now, if you are lucky enough to have bought these new or been luckier still to have got these second hand with the original paper inner sleeves you should find the following printed on them ……….
MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY
This in English as is the London address of the copyright notice.
I think we all get confused by the nature of the detail. Some detail indicates a German pressing while other lend a slant towards a British pressing. Polydor could have easily had these done in either country but that debate does not lessen the sheer weight of argument that these are really fake Track Record pressing.
As for “rare”? Really, these pressings are readily available all over the internet. As a guide to price for either of them in 2015, I’d say if you can find them in mint condition then expect to pay a real premium for no other reason than the condition. Otherwise any item less than mint could possibly command an asking price of £40, less so as the condition of the album and cover deteriorates. Rare is something in low numbers and so by the very nature infrequently appears. From experience 99% of records touted as rare are not and patience will be rewarded.
This Melody Maker advert, from February 1968, shows that even after a period of nine months AYE had had no stereo release on Track Records yet it clearly shows ABAL having been made available on that label in both formats.