Hendrix "Steppin' Stone"--TWO Buddy Miles mixes!!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve E., Apr 21, 2008.

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  1. Steve E.

    Steve E. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    This may be of interest to only the most obsessive Hendrix fans among us, but...

    I just compared the the version of "Steppin' Stone" on the Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child collection...

    ....to the version I grew up with on the 3LP Warner Bros' Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies Loss Leader compilation (PRO 423), which was released in late 1970, very shortly after Hendrix's death.

    Both claim to be rereleases of the April 1970 Band of Gypsies single 0905. One of these claims must be incorrect. While they appear to be the same performances, both featuring Buddy Miles's original drum track, they are noticeably different mixes.

    *The version on the Looney Tunes LP:

    *has busy toms either overdubbed or turned up much higher in the mix, from the line "Trying trying not to be a fool" through "Try so hard, to keep it together"; then in the second verse, same melodic spot; and at points in the instrumental section, along with more cowbell. Cowbells. I suspect these are Buddy Miles drums...they are VERY much locked in with the rest of the drumming. They are maybe needlessly busy, but they don't ruin anything.
    *has a phasing effect on the rhythm guitar in the right ear, throughout.
    *has a final lead guitar line almost entirely mixed out at the very end of the recording.

    The version on the Voodoo Child CD:
    *has a lead guitar swoop from R to L right after Jimi says "oohWEE" (On the LP it starts and stays far left)
    *has no obvious tom-drum overdubs
    *has a generally cleaner sound and no phasing
    *has slight reverb on the vocals.
    *has a final, very prominent, lead guitar line in the left channel.

    I think the "Voodoo Child" version is a more careful, more "perfect" mix. The LP one has a chaotic, messy, lo-fi energy. Both have their merits. I think the Voodoo Child one probably wins, because you can hear everything, and it's all worth hearing.

    I don't know what the story is. Did the Warner Bros LP contain the single or a substitution? (It is known that Jimi was unhappy that the single was released, and considered the mix unfinished).

    Is the Voodoo Child one the correct single; or an alternate, previously unreleased mix from 1970; or a secret remix for this comp? (is a "secret remix" even possible, or were Buddy Miles' drums erased in the 1970s?)

    Now I wonder if the Voodoo Child "Izabella" is the real single mix, too!

    Has this ever been noted before?

    [Just to avoid dumb and confusing tangents, I am well aware of the Mitch Mitchell overdubbed version, first released in 1972 and currently all-too-available on the "First Rays" CD. This is not what I am talking about. Nor am I talking about any later Alan Douglas monster that may exist.]
     
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  2. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Cowboys are the only ones who stay in tune anyway!

    Location:
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    This is great info and observations, I look forward to the experts comments?
     
  3. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Forum Resident

    Location:
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    I believe the Looney Tunes version is the 45. When the 45 was released (the last Hendrix release of new material when he was still alive-I actually own a store copy of the 45), I felt it was the best thing he had ever done, kind of like a Hendrix mini-opera, with all of the different sections & changes, and that it signalled a great new direction that he was headed in. Made his death a few weeks later that much harder to take. The single was so obscure, being pulled from the market almost immediately, that, even after his death, it got zero airplay. The later, overdubbed version, is an abomination.
     
  4. Steve E.

    Steve E. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Agreed. Does anyone around here have a copy of the actual 45 (as opposed to the Looney Tunes LP) that they could do a sample needledrop of? Or, even simply compare to the Voodoo Child CD? Simplest way to tell is if the lead guitar pans or not after the "ooo Wee"...and if there are extra Buddy Miles toms on the "try "try" sections.

    I'll post an audio comparison of the two mixes in a bit.
     
  5. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Forum Resident

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    I have the 45. My copy of Looney Tunes, however, disappeared in 1972. Hard to get to the 45, however, as it's buried under tons of stuff & I can't needledrop, anyway.
     
  6. mr_mjb1960

    mr_mjb1960 I'm a Tarrytowner 'Til I die!

    The "Steppin' Stone" Appeared on single only for a brief time in 1970-the mix was by Hendrix,made before his passing a few months later-it was pulled shortly after,making this 45 EXTREMELY HARD to find. (The "New Rays" mix is the final mix,not the 45.) Michael Boyce
     
  7. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
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    It's Mitch Mitchell on the First Rays version which still feels like Buddy Miles because Mitchell is following his tempo.

    Frank R.
     
  8. jymy

    jymy Well-Known Member

    FYI, the Voodoo Child CD description matches with the versions on:
    - Kiss The Sky (Polydor 823 704-2)
    - Cornerstones 1967-1970 (Polydor 847 231-2)
     
  9. TommyTunes

    TommyTunes Forum Resident

    I have both the 45 and the Looney Tunes 3LP set. They are the same version, I have Voodoo Childe on both CD and Classic LP, to be honest I never played either of those (it's a collecting thing). I will try and do a needle drop of both SS and Isabella from the 45 and SS from Looney Tunes this coming weekend if someone wants to host it I could send it to them.
     
  10. Steve E.

    Steve E. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Yes, but we are not talking about that version.
     
  11. Steve E.

    Steve E. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I have needle dropped Looney Tunes, but if you could do the single that would be killer.

    In fact...here are samples for comparison!

    I have done my best to match volume levels by turning down the maximalized CD. The LP ran a little slower so I corrected that as well (don't worry, no time compression, just accurate pitch/speed adjustment).

    Here's the intro....notice the phased guitar in the LP and the panning lead note in the CD. Also, notice in "Trying Trying" section...both feature Buddy's drums, but the first one has extra "Buddy" toms:
    http://www.SteveEspinola.com/hoffman/Hendrix_SteppingStone_LooneyLP1.mp3
    http://www.SteveEspinola.com/hoffman/Hendrix_SteppingStone_VChildCD1.mp3

    This is an instrumental section. The LP has a phased guitar panning effect (in headphones) not unlike "Gypsy Eyes." Also, more cowbells.
    http://www.SteveEspinola.com/hoffman/Hendrix_SteppingStone_LooneyLP2.mp3
    http://www.SteveEspinola.com/hoffman/Hendrix_SteppingStone_VChildCD2.mp3

    and here's the very end. Notice that the CD includes a much higher in mix lead guitar.
    http://www.SteveEspinola.com/hoffman/Hendrix_SteppingStone_LooneyLP3.mp3
    http://www.SteveEspinola.com/hoffman/Hendrix_SteppingStone_VChildCD3.mp3
     
  12. Steve E.

    Steve E. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    So....for those who got confused....I am saying there are (at least) four commercial mixes out there of "Stepping Stone", and one of them has not been noted before, as far as I know.

    1. The "busy" Buddy Miles mix, as found on the Looney Tunes LP. Includes phased rhythm guitar and extra toms and cowbell by Buddy.

    2. The "clean" Buddy Miles mix, as found on "Kiss the Sky" and the "Voodoo Child" CD. This features Buddy Miles, but no overdubbed toms or cowbell, and no phasing on the rhythm guitar. It could be considered an "underdub," I suppose, but I suspect it was an alternate mix done the same day as version #1. Similar positioning of instruments for the most part.

    3. The Mitch Mitchell "Abomination" mix, as found on the "War Heroes" LP and the "First Rays" CD. This features Buddy Miles mixed completely out (if not erased), some inferior soloing from Jimi, and an utter lack of groove. (Sorry Mitch, we DO adore you, but this didn't work.)

    4. The Alan Douglas "Voodoo Soup" mix....this one is actually not nearly as bad as the Mitch Mitchell version....it's just a little thin. I have not done a synch check, but Buddy's drumming or an admirable fascimile is present.

    Anyway, today we are concerning ourselves ONLY with the first two mixes.
     
  13. Doctor Flang

    Doctor Flang Forum Resident

    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    What was that guys name who played on that one? I remember he played in a band called Knack and that he passed away a few years ago.

    Reason why Alan Douglas overdubbed new drum parts on that one, was because when he was working on "Voodoo Soup", nobody could find the original multitracks with Buddy's drumming.
    According to Douglas, Mitchell gave his blessings and the session guy did a pretty good job on "Stepping Stone" - but still it was absolutely stupid IMHO, overdubbing new drums just because of the remix.
     
  14. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Forum Resident

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    Alan Schwartzberg
     
  15. Doctor Flang

    Doctor Flang Forum Resident

    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    No, that was the guy on Crash Landing & Midnight Lightning. It was Bruce Gary of "My Sharona" fame.
     
  16. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Forum Resident

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    Bayside, NY
    You are correct. I am not.
     
  17. Doctor Flang

    Doctor Flang Forum Resident

    Location:
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    Google is my guru.
     
  18. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    I doubt Mitchell gave his blessing for what I believe was the real abomination with Stepping Stone on Voodoo Soup. What Bruce Gary did to that song was a major tragedy! No one should have recorded new parts on that song like that! I happen to love Mitch Mitchell's drum part and Buddy's Drum part. I would never call what Mitchell did an abomination. We have to remember that Hendrix had Mitchell record new drum parts for several tracks that Buddy played on originally. (Earth Blues, Dolly Dagger for instance). Can someone tell me whether Mitchell's overdubs on Stepping Stone and Izabella were sanctioned by Hendrix? If I remember correctly, I believe they were!

    Frank R.
     
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  19. Doctor Flang

    Doctor Flang Forum Resident

    Location:
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    It would be nice to know which songs were overdubbed during Jimi's lifetime and what were done on a later day.

    -I recall, that "Stepping Stone" was overdubbed in 1972 for "War Heroes".

    -"Izabella" is a strange one because to my ears, it sounds like Buddy Miles playing, not Mitchell! Credits tell otherwise.

    -"Ezy Ryder" was also overdubbed for Cry of Love after Jimi's death, but gladly, it was left as it was.

    -"Earth Blues"? Anyone?
     
  20. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bayside, NY
    The 45 was credited to Hendrix Band Of Gypsies, so it was Buddy.
     
  21. Doctor Flang

    Doctor Flang Forum Resident

    Location:
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    I meant the version that can be found on "War Heroes" and "First Rays". It is a different mix, but think it's the same drum track.
     
  22. Chris M

    Chris M Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    EH gives a date of June 26 '70 (before Jimi passed) for the Stepping Stone overdub. Not sure if they mixed a version with Mitch before Jimi passed. it might have been a failed experiment. The First Rays version with Mitch was mixed in 1972.

    Earth Blues is interesting in that apparently Mitch's overdub was done while Jimi was alive but Jimi and Eddie mixed a version with Buddy's drums at one of his last sessions.

    Mitch didn't overdub drums on Dolly Dagger. The backing track was cut with Mitch.

    I don't think Mitch ever overdubbed drums on Izabella. He played on the 1969 version with the Woodstock band but that was a different perormance.
     
  23. Chris M

    Chris M Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    No, Ezy Ryder was finished before Jimi passed.
     
  24. Steve E.

    Steve E. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Mitchell didn't overdub "Izabella," at least not on any mix that was released. It may say that somewhere, but you can't believe everything you read. It's Buddy Miles' parts on both the single mix and the different-solo'd First Rays mix.

    Mitch's overdubbed drums parts are on the First Rays "Stepping Stone" and "Earth Blues." Buddy Miles' version of "Earth Blues" is on the purple box, and I think it is much better, though it is missing a nice guitar overdub. The more common Mitch version, mixed after Hendrix's death, is charming in a hippie way but outrageously sloppy.

    As to whether Hendrix sanctioned it, I think it is up for debate. At the very least, there is a mix of "Earth Blues" with Buddy's drumming that was done by Hendrix three days before his last-ever recording session. That makes me raise an eyebrow. Even if Hendrix was present when Mitch did the overdubs, he might have realized that they didn't work too well.

    This may be heresy, but some around here think that the printed recording dates for Mitchell's drum overdubs might have been fudged. That is, they _may_ have been done after Hendrix's death. And worse, they may have been done in a way that erased Buddy's drum tracks, which would explain why Alan Douglas couldn't find the multitracks. I have read, as well, that Kramer and Mitchell made a similarly tape-destructive, never-released attempt at "Room Full of Mirrors," which may be why we've been stuck with such a rough, upside-down mix of the Buddy Miles' version, from Rainbow Bridge on up til now. It was done before Miles' drums were erased, and Kramer and Mitch couldn't then step backwards using the multitracks.

    Now, I don't know this to be true....I'm repeating what I've heard from some obsessive Hendrix fans with good ears. It does make a degree of sense, though.

    Not trying to court controversy or squelch this thread....apologies if I am stepping on any toes with this statement.
     
  25. Doctor Flang

    Doctor Flang Forum Resident

    Location:
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    That is a strange one. Maybe Mitch did his overdub twice?

    I just listened both studio versions. It IS the same drum track on both.

    Some other songs were also dubbed, "Hey Baby" has some tom-tom overdubs. I seem to recall that Mitch did his drum parts again on "Bleeding Heart", but don't quote me on that one!
     
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