Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DVD Review: The Redding Experience: Interview with the Late Noel Redding, Bass Player with the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2014
Images from the Internet


The Redding Experience: Interview with the Late Noel Redding, Bass Player with the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Produced by Will Scally
MNV Discs International
40 minutes, 1988 / 2010

British guitarist and bassist Noel Redding had a storied career in some heavy hitting bands in the early 1960s and mid- to late-1970s, such as Fat Mattress and the Noel Redding Band. That being said, what he will be immortalized for, fairly or not, is the three years (1966-69) that he was the bassist of a trio known simply as The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Noel Redding and Jimi Hendrix
For nearly all of the 40 minutes of this interview, he discusses his role playing besides Hendrix, and how he was bought out and then denied any royalties from his three albums with the Experience when Jimi died without a will.
The interview is a one camera deal with it nearly unmoving other than the rare fade in to close-up and fade out to long shot. He sits on a couch and is questioned by an unseen Brit (Will Scally, I am assuming). Where this is taped (seems like VHS quality) and for what purpose / show is not mentioned. It just starts with Noel and ends with Noel, though the occasional stock footage of black and white London scenes from the ‘60s is sometimes interspersed.

It takes a while for the monotone-ish Noel to get past his pre-Experience – er – experience, as he talks about earlier bands and how he put down the guitar to pick up the bass for this group just before meeting Hendrix. By 20 minutes in (the half-way point), it actually starts to get more interesting as he discusses the exhaustion of touring, the drug use around him, his own role in the band as beat-keeper, and Hendrix’s way of playing the guitar upside-down.

Amazingly, he wasn’t fond of most of the band’s most popular releases (e.g., “Purple Haze”), and goes on to list songs he thought were good and the ones he didn’t care about.

This isn’t a deep conversation. And while Noel is stoic, sitting on the couch, he is also apparently a bit fidgety, almost like he just does not want to be there (the watch checks are a good indication). However, as a historical document about one of the most discussed and written about musicians in the modern era (including by Redding, who wrote an autobiography called Are You Experienced?) from someone who was actually there rather than second hand stories alone makes this important.

I would say you probably need to be a hardcore Hendrix fan or music historian to get sufficient amounts out of this, but if you are, you should.

Noel Redding died in 2003 at the age of 57 of cirrhosis of the liver. Foreshadowing this, it is noteworthy that as the interview ends, and you can see him checking his watch often. Towards the end of it, he mentions, “Time for a pint” as the camera is turned off.

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