Written by the legendary pen of Bob Dylan, the real showstopping version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ belongs to Jimi Hendrix and his utterly mesmeric solos. Here we put a focus on that famous fretwork as we isolate Hendrix’s guitar on ‘All Along The Watchtower’.
Written in 1967, the track has had a fair few renditions from famous faces including Pearl Jam, Bryan Ferry, Neil Young and U2, but none hold a candle to Jimi’s. The original song featured as part of Dylan’s LP John Wesley Harding, and it has been included on most of Dylan’s subsequent greatest hits compilations. In fact, snce the late seventies, he has performed it in concert more than any of his other songs.
Hendrix took on the song Jimi Hendrix for the album Electric Ladyland with the Jimi Hendrix Experience just a short while after Dylan’s original release. The Hendrix version we all know and love was actually released just six months after the original, but unlike the original, it became a Top 20 single in 1968.
The recording process was also the type of session you could only dream of. With Eddie Kramer, Hendrix’s regular engineer saying that throughout the recording session Hendrix was constantly changing the chord patterns and arrangements. It was a scene that displeased Noel Redding who was playing the bass on the track and he left before the session had finished. Kramer says that it was Hendrix who played the last bass parts on the track. There was another famous face in the studio as The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones was said to have played the percussion on the song: “That’s him playing the thwack you hear at the end of each bar in the intro, on an instrument called a vibraslap.”
The reason we’re here, however, talking about the magical transformation of a simple folk song, is Jimi Hendrix’s incredible guitar work on the track. An impresario in many ways, Hendrix was a maestro on the guitar but he was also a perfectionist. He was acclaimed to hear so many more differentiations on the notes that others simply couldn’t pick up. It was this pursuit of perfection that made him the greatest guitarist to have ever lived and to make this track something so special – it truly is like no other.
Dylan said of Hendrix’s version; “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”
Listen below to Jimi Hendrix’s isolated guitar on ‘All Along The Watchtower’ below.
Source: Society of Rock