Ask Noel Redding what will be on the "new box set," and he won't offer any insight about the upcoming release that features dozens of unissued tracks of him playing with Jimi Hendrix
. Rather, he will discuss Thank You Very Much, Gud Luk, and Goodnight
, a just-completed anthology of his solo work from 1962 to the present.
Redding, fifty-four, played bass in the Experience from its formation in 1966 until he left in 1969. He was often frustrated by this partnership because he was a guitarist by trade and, according to some reports, was hired for the Experience as much for his look (a massive white-person's afro topped off by granny glasses) as his playing.
Redding now lives in County Cork, Ireland, in a house purchased from his Experience earnings. However, he said he has received no further payment for his time with the band. "I was forced to sign away my royalties in 1974," he says. "I even had to sell the bass I used during that time, for $16,000."
That particular bass was subsequently purchased by Paul Allen, and is now part of the Experience Music Project's Hendrix exhibit. "I never thought I'd see it again," Redding says, but he did during the museum's opening weekend. "I just stared at it for a long time. I was very moved."
While he admits that his relationship with the Hendrix estate is "pretty strange," he expects that he will receive some royalties from the upcoming Hendrix release. "I have it on paper that I will be paid," he says, although he's not sure how much.
Redding wrote two songs for the Experience, "She's So Fine" and "Little Miss Strange." These are included on his anthology, along with some tracks from two pre-Experience bands and Fat Mattress (Redding's band he led concurrent to his stint in the Experience). Additionally, there are tracks with Spirit
guitarist Randy California and two members of the Spin Doctors
Redding calls his 1996 jams with Spin Doctors' guitarist Anthony Krizan and drummer Frankie LaRocker "better than the Experience." Several tracks from that session are included here, as well as covers of songs by the Beatles
, Bob Dylan
and Blues Image
There is nothing from the Experience aside from Redding's two solo tracks, although some existing tapes would be appropriate. According to Redding, Hendrix recorded a few of Redding's compositions with the Band of Gypsies, including one called "Dance." Redding says that Hendrix "basically lifted the song" but did so without malice. "I'm sure that he didn't remember it was mine." In any case, ownership of the song or its royalties are moot, as it remains un-issued.
A more interesting collaboration took place in 1986 when Redding and Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell (with whom Redding has since fallen out) traveled to former manager Chas Chandler's Newcastle home and recorded new tracks to at least four unreleased Hendrix demos. (In this they were pioneers, as this well preceded the Nineties trend of overdubbing incomplete tapes by famous dead people.) Redding could recall none of the titles of these songs aside from "Sunshine of Your Love." "There was a party thing, like a sing-along thing at a wedding, and another tune that had like a sitar in it," he says.
John McDermott, who assembled the upcoming Hendrix box set, confirmed the existence of these tracks but would not comment on their quality. Redding says that several British and American labels have shown interest in releasing his album, but there have been no solid commitments. Still, he's optimistic that it will see the light of day before the end of the year.
"With all the commotion about [the thirtieth anniversary of Hendrix's death] someone with any intelligence will put it out. It's all finished anyway."
Written by CHARLES BERMANT for RollingStone.com News