Morcheeba founder member and multi-instrumentalist Ross Godfrey reveals how Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Electric Ladyland’ helped shape his career
My dad had a great record collection and by the time I was 12 years old I was already working my way through it. On weekend visits, I ‘liberated’ the records I really wanted to take home… I was a bit slow getting to the Jimi Hendrix albums as I had traumatic memories of my dad, who, one night, scared the life out of me by blasting a terribly recorded live tune called Woke Up This Morning and Found Myself Dead at crazy volumes and drunkenly yelled “You’ll get it one day!”
He was right, but it wasn’t until I started playing the guitar myself that I began to appreciate what the hell that noise was all about. Plus the cover art made Jimi look like a demented drug-addled weirdo, which I found a bit intimidating at that age.
I had started to play basic rock ‘n’ roll stuff on the guitar and I was really getting into Chuck Berry when I stumbled across a recording of Hendrix playing Johnny B. Goode live at Berkley. It was like discovering alien life on another planet; it freaked me out! As soon as I could, I permanently ‘borrowed’ Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland from my dad. I rushed home and listened to them in the order they were recorded. From the first creeping feedback intro of Foxy Lady, I knew my world had changed.
By the time I got to the self-produced Electric Ladyland I was floored. It was less constrained and much deeper and heavier. The cover, featuring a bunch of naked ladies, was interesting for me at that age too… There was so much going on in the music: delta blues, free jazz, The Impressions-type soul, rock, pop and spaced-out freeform psychedelia. The album stayed as my favourite throughout my teens and the first time I listened to it on acid was when I truly understood the power of it.
Quite simply, 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) is the best piece of recorded music ever. It pretty much fills up a whole side of the vinyl and takes you on a journey under the sea and through Jimi’s imagination. I love the shorter pop hits too: Crosstown Traffic and its funny, fuzzy breakbeat funk; All Along The Watchtower, which is probably the best cover version ever; and of course Voodoo Child (Slight Return), which is Jimi doing his thing – being the best electric guitar player there ever was.
Electric Ladyland has had the biggest influence on me as a guitar player, producer and songwriter, and will stay with me as my companion through life until the day I die. It still sounds fresh and I don’t think anybody will ever make a better record.
Skye & Ross will be playing Love Supreme on July 2 2016. Their new album, ‘Skye & Ross’, will be released September 2nd 2016.