Burning Of the Midnight Lamp is an example of the embarrassment of riches at Jimi Hendrix’s fingertips. The song didn’t find its way onto a proper studio album until it appeared on Electric Ladyland in 1968, a full year after it was recorded. It was the band’s fourth single in the UK reaching No.18 in the charts.
Hendrix was initially much more successful in the UK – Hey Joe, Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary all reached the Top 10 as did the fifth single All Along the Watchtower. In the US, All Along The Watchtower reached No. 20 but every other single was low on the chart.
Apart from the 7-inch single Burning Of the Midnight Lamp was initially available on the UK version of the Smash Hits compilation album released in 1968 – 5 months before Electric Ladyland. If you are buying Smash Hits you really need to have the US and the UK versions as they have different tracks relating to Hendrix’s status in each country at the time. Apparently the French version of the record also has its own select track listing.
Burning Of the Midnight Lamp is a melancholy masterpiece and allegedly the first recording that Hendrix used the Wah-Wah? Could this be true? Whatever the chronology may be, the song highlights Hendrix’s melodic ear – the song also features him playing harpsichord on the riff motif.
The song was produced by ex Animals bassist and Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler, an important figure in Hendrix’s evolution. Interestingly the backing vocals on Burning Of The Midnight Lamp were by vocal group, Sweet Inspirations featuring Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston’s mother.
I always loved this song and when I was reading about it I realized that The Jimi Hendrix Experience only released original studio albums between August 1967 and October 1968 – 14 months. (Are You Experienced came out in 1967 and both Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland came out in 1968). It’s also extremely disturbing to think that it’s not just Hendrix that has gone – bassist Noel Redding died in 2003 and drummer Mitch Mitchell in 2008, Chas Chandler died in 1996.
“Move over Rover, let Jimi take over” – Fire 1967