Eddie Kramer Completes Posthumous Jimi Hendrix Trilogy With 'Both Sides Of The Sky' Producer and engineer Eddie Kramer brings continuity and freshness to Hendrix's posthumous canon with a new album.
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Eddie Kramer Completes Posthumous Jimi Hendrix Trilogy With 'Both Sides Of The Sky'

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Eddie Kramer Completes Posthumous Jimi Hendrix Trilogy With 'Both Sides Of The Sky'

Eddie Kramer Completes Posthumous Jimi Hendrix Trilogy With 'Both Sides Of The Sky'

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Jimi Hendrix died 48 years ago, but his music keeps coming.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN'")

JIMI HENDRIX: (Singing) Hear my train a coming.

MARTIN: That's a track from "Both Sides Of The Sky," a new Hendrix record out today. It's the third album in a trilogy featuring the best of Jimi's unreleased studio recordings. NPR's Vince Pearson spoke with a legendary recording engineer who helped bring this project to life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN'")

HENDRIX: Hey.

VINCE PEARSON, BYLINE: Eddie Kramer still remembers the first time he heard that monster guitar. It was 1967. He was the young engineer assigned to work with the new artist everyone in London was talking about.

EDDIE KRAMER: We put up the amps, and then we put up Mitch's drums. And then Jimi got up and plugged into the Marshall stack. And I had never heard anything like it. It just completely blew me away.

(SOUNDBITE OF JIMI HENDRIX'S "PURPLE HAZE")

PEARSON: Hendrix was recording songs for his debut album "Are You Experienced."

KRAMER: Miked everything up and recorded a bunch and said, Jimi, come up and have a quick listen. And he listened. He said, wow - and went back in the studio and proceeded to sort of readjust his amp and nodded at me. Check this out, Kramer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PURPLE HAZE")

HENDRIX: (Singing) Purple haze all in my brain.

PEARSON: The two fed off each other, working together to push Jimi's music to a new technical heights. Kramer seemed to understand Jimi's unique musical language.

KRAMER: He did have a tendency to describe sounds in colors. Hey, man, give me some of that green, you know. And I knew exactly what he meant. It was reverb. Or if he said more red, I knew it was distortion. And then if he went purple, it was really stupid distortion.

PEARSON: Kramer would go on to mix and record every album Hendrix made before his death in 1970. And he's still at it, bringing a kind of continuity to the posthumous stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF JIMI HENDRIX'S "POWER OF SOUL")

KRAMER: You know, working with Jimi so closely over those years, the sound is in my head. And I can hear his voice talking to me saying, no, no, not that, yeah, yeah, let's get that kind of sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF JIMI HENDRIX'S "POWER OF SOUL")

PEARSON: The new album captures studio recordings Hendrix made between 1968 and 1970, a transitional time spanning the breakup of his first band and his work with other players.

KRAMER: He used the studio as a rehearsal place. Thank goodness that was happening because tape was running. He would bring in different musicians to try to figure out what he was going to do with his musical direction. You know.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WITH THE POWER")

HENDRIX: (Singing) Watch out for some of those high-flying rides you've been taking. You know the ones that are flying too low.

KRAMER: Sometimes a song would take him nine months to bring to completion, and a lot of these songs are that. They are that takes prior to it being completed, which makes them very exciting.

PEARSON: There are also some cool cameos. Blues guitarist Johnny Winter shows up, as well as Stephen Stills. Stills sings a Joni Mitchell tune he'd go on to record with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOODSTOCK")

STEPHEN STILLS: (Singing) Well, I came upon a child of God. He was walking along the road. And I asked him, where was he going?

PEARSON: Eddie Kramer says there's not a lot of unreleased studio recordings left in the Jimi Hendrix vault, but there is plenty more concert footage.

Is it meaningful to you to be still working on his stuff?

KRAMER: Oh, my goodness, yes. I love working on this stuff. I get so excited just putting the tapes up and hearing his voice. I want to keep doing Jimi Hendrix for the rest of time (laughter).

PEARSON: That's Eddie Kramer, the engineer and one of the producers of "Both Sides Of The Sky."

Vince Pearson, NPR News.

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