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25 Sep 2016

Curtis Knight “Down In The Village” 1970 US Hard Psych







Curtis Knight  “Down In The Village” 1970 US Hard Psych.recommended..!
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This singer-guitarist was born Mont Curtis McNear in Fort Scott, Kansas on May 9th 1929. According to later publicity material, however, ‘Curtis Knight was born in 1945, half black, half Blackfoot Indian. He lived on an Indian reservation until the age of eight. 

He was inspired to write songs at a very early age by his mother, who wrote poetry as well as songs and music. After high school Curtis went to California, where he was able to broaden his musical scope. Then a 3000 mile bus ride took him to New York City, where he met an agent, started a group and began to build up a club circuit on the East Coast. It was in New York that Curtis was introduced to Jimi Hendrix. 

Their rapport was immediate and they started playing together the first day theymet. This meeting was in 1965, by which time Knight had also put in a stint with the latter-day Ink Spots, issued several solo 45s, formed a band in Harlem named The Squires, and signed a contract with the independent producer Ed Chalpin. Chalpin also signed up Hendrix, and made several recordings of the two performers, which became lucrative when Hendrix rose to stardom as of late 1966. 

The extent to which Knight influenced Hendrix has never been established, though by the time Down In The Village was made, Knight was clearly in thrall to his alleged former protege. After Hendrix’s September 1970 death, Knight moved to London and penned a biography of him, as well as making another album with a band named Zeus (including guitarist Eddie Clarke, later to join Motorhead). 

As well as being a musician, Knight was a highly-rated table-tennis player, described by one online source as 'a penholder with pretty good touch who liked to add a lot of spin to pushes and blocks’. By the 1990s he was running a limousine business, and moved to Holland in 1992, where he continued to record and play until his death on November 29th 1999. 
CD Liner-notes ….
Just got this 1970 LP reisue on Aurora CD and really pleasently surpirsed by it. One or two tracks are just tarted up 60s r'n'b that he would have been familiar with when Jimi Hendrix was his backing guitarist in 1965-6 but most of the 10 cuts are excellent freak-psych/rock with funky grooves and vocals. You can find 'Give You Plenty Lovin’ for instance on youtube which is a 11-12 minute dirge-come-psych guitar wig out. The shorter songs, especially the last three are tight, bendy funk-psych dancers. I really like 'Lena’ as well with its big up front drums. 

I don’t know if it’ been remastered, but it’s got plenty of oomph on the bottom end. A really enjoyable ride and something of an eye opener. You can find the entire 'Curtis Knight Zeus’ LP on youtube (from 74) as well which is not bad but 'Village’ is a real moment for him I think. He was a table tennis pro as well! There’s a two pageliner insert also. ……
Curtis Knight was one of those musicians whose own efforts would be overshadowed or ignored, who wound up as a footnote in the history of his friend Jimi Hendrix (as did Hendrix’s protege Velvert Turner). Born in Kansas in 1929 (later publicity materials shaved 16 years off his age, perhaps because it was thought his older age would turn off younger listeners), he moved to California after high school, where he broadened his musical scope, then a 3,000 mile bus ride found him in New York City, where he formed bands, got an agent, and played the club circuit (even putting in time with real old-schoolers The Ink Spots), releasing some singles along the way. 
   In 1965, Knight met a guitarist named Jimi Hendrix, they began playing together the first day they met, and Hendrix worked with Knight and his band The Squires (one result of their teamup was the single “How Would You Feel?” a brother record of sorts to Sonny Bono’s “Laugh At Me”, only much more deeper and serious). Hendrix signed a contract with Knight’s manager/producer Ed Chalpin that would dog Hendrix later after he became a star, but Jimi and Knight remained friends. After Hendrix’s death, Knight recorded sporadically, authored a 1974 biography of his friend, titled Jimi, and kept on keepin’ on, running a limousine business in the 1990s, and moving to Holland, where he continued making music before passing away at age 70 in 1999. One album, 1970’s Down In The Village, contains elements that show Hendrix had a major influence on Knight, who concocts a heavy Rock pulse, with deep bass grooves, and acidic guitars. When he softens up a little, on “Friedman Hill”, he loses momentum, and “Goin’ Up The Road” just comes off ordinary and flat. The rest of the tracks kick righteously, from “Lena"s hard, streamlined run to the 9 minute-plus "Give You Plenty Lovin”, which sustains its length. Maybe it’s high time the guy was given a large step up from being a footnote. Curtis Knight–Down In The Village (Paramount Records 1970). …
Curtis Knight (real name: Curtis McNear) has sunk into obscurity, despite cutting a handful of albums with Jimi Hendrix—none of which I’ve heard, sadly. The greatness of Down In The Village, though, makes that fate seem unjust. This Curtis cat could play guitar, sing, and write riveting songs that, while not on Hendrix’s lofty level, still hit with a bracing impact 46 years after their initial release. 

The title track is a helluva way to start an album; it features some of the most satisfying cowbell clonks ever, and boasts a filthy groove that rivals CCR’s in “Run Through The Jungle” for in-the-pocket righteousness. “Lena” is a heart-trembling love song with a menacing riff running and stunning through it, and Knight lets off some primo early-Bob Seger vocal screeches near the end of it. “See No Evil” swaggers like Deep Purple’s cover of Joe South’s “Hush.” “Hi-Low” begins with a wicked breakbeat and blooms into a strong, funky blues-rock grind. 

The ballads (“Friedman Hill,” for example) aren’t all that great and sometimes the rock and roll gets a bit corny (“Goin Up The Road,” for instance), but the hard rockers more than compensate for that—especially “Give You Plenty Lovin’.” At nearly 10 minutes, the song’s an incredibly adrenalized and obsessive psych rocker whose end-of-tether vocals and spectacular guitar conflagrations hint at Mudhoney’s attack—about 18 years before that Seattle band began releasing records. “Give You Plenty Lovin’” should’ve closed Down In The Village instead of opening side two, but that’s a quibble. This is a great, raucous rock record that’s been slept on for far too long…..

  *Curtis Knight - Vocals, Guitar 
Tracks
1. Down In The Village - 3:17
2. Lena - 3:51
3. Friedman Hill - 3:00
4. See No Evil - 3:38
5. Beautiful World, Beautiful People (John Mazzola, Curtis McNear) - 3:03
6. Goin Up The Road - 3:57
7. Give You Plenty Lovin’(Curtis McNear, Harvey Vinson) - 9:45
8. Eenee Meenee Minee Mo - 3:53
9. Hi-Low - 3:30
10.Goodbye Cruel Worlde (John Mazzola, Curtis McNear) - 2:16
All songs by Curtis McNear except where stated

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