In 1965, Jimmy Hendrix (as he spelled his name then), signed a contract with producer/manager Ed Chalpin, and went on to record as part of a backing band for another act Chalpin handled, singer Curtis Knight. When Hendrix became a star in his own right in 1967, that contract came back to haunt him, kicking off decades of litigation which were only resolved in 2003, when Experience Hendrix (the company founded by Hendrix’s father Al in 1995) attained full rights to all of the recordings.
The liner notes for “You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP/PPX Sessions” (credited to Curtis Knight & the Squires, featuring Jimi Hendrix) say over 100 releases featuring the songs have come out over the years. But “You Can’t Use My Name” is the first to truly put the material in context, in its original form, and in the best quality to date. You’ll find the very first original numbers Hendrix ever released, the instrumentals “Hornet’s Nest” and “Knock Yourself Out,” which were paired on a single released by RSVP Records in 1966 (the label’s owner, John Simon, also snagged a co-writing credit); both tracks feature Hendrix’s guitar prominently. The set also features two more Hendrix originals, the full-length version of “No Such Animal” and the previously unreleased “Station Break” (another “co-write” with Simon), which, as the liner notes point out, owes a decided debt to Booker T & the MG’s.
These four tracks are the highlights of the set, but it’s interesting hearing Hendrix in session musician mode as well, as he backs Knight’s upbeat R&B songs. There are hints of the virtuoso waiting to break out, and the contrast with “Gloomy Monday,” recorded in 1967, is striking. Even as a backing musician, his newfound confidence is obvious; you keep waiting for a sizzling guitar solo. This track is preceded by some studio chat with Hendrix asking that his name not be used if the song’s ever released, inspiring this album’s title.
As a look at the pre-fame Hendrix, this is an essential release for Hendrix aficionados. And the liner notes suggest this is the first in a series of similar releases; let’s hope so.