Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Hey Joe!...What Version Is This?"

At the risk of sounding like a senior citizen, it's truly amazing what you can find on YouTube. From the crass and uninspired to the amazing and inspirational, it's all there. And what better example of this than the umpteen-million different versions of that perennial murder ballad, "Hey Joe":

Although the song seems to have been around for a while, the first recorded version of it was in mid-1966, by L.A.-based garage band The Leaves. Their version is, not surprisingly, garage-y, at a fairly brisk tempo.*

Skipping the best-known version (we'll get to that later), fast forward one year, to the Monterey Pop Festival (June 16 - 18, 1967), and we have The Byrds mangling it in a rush, with poor David Crosby's vocals straining out a melody that just...doesn't work.

Of course, progressive rock has to have it's day in court, so Deep Purple embellishes the hell out of it with a vibe that's a cross between Phantom Of the Opera and Hang 'Em High.

Probably one of the strangest versions is one by 80's New-Waver Willy Deville (ex Mink Deville). Next time you're at Rio Bravo, see if the mariachi band will humor you with this rendition.

If the titular "Joe" of the song ever lived long enough to suffer through bad early 1990's fashions, he might have found a kindred spirit in Seal, who gives us this version, backed up by Pink Floyd fretmeister David Gilmour.

Neo-folkie/American/roots troubadour Martin Sexton has a lot of fun with his rendition, even scat-singing the lead-guitar part of the "definitive" version we all know and love...

...Which brings us to the Big One.

Type in "hey joe hendrix" and YouTube will spit out a whopping 1,640 videos (as of this writing). Suffice it to say, most of these are homemade efforts, and only a handful will really be worth listening to (though I have to applaud the bravery involved in showcasing one's skills, limited though they might be, for the critics of hysperpace). about this one?

* At 1:16 and 2:26, we hear Jim Pons' ascending bass figure that Hendrix apparently found interesting enough to borrow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence Day - We Got It All Wrong!

...Or so says the late Mr. Adams:

This probably explains his unpopularity (or at least the
lack of a monument in Washington).