Eddie Kramer has been discussing his recent remixing and restoration work on the lost tapes and recordings of Jimi Hendrix, and has hinted that there may be more to come – and if that means using digital tools, such as AI, to retrieve the late electric guitar icon’s vocals out of a mix then he will do it.
Appearing on The Vinyl Guide Podcast, the legendary producer/engineer was asked by host Nate Goyer about his caseload, and whether the AI technologies that made recent headlines thanks to the Beatles’ Now And Then could be applied to Hendrix recordings. Kramer said why not?
Though he was circumspect about using the word ‘AI’ with regards sound separation tools, he said that digital technology was presenting him will all kinds of possibilities, and that there was no shortage of tapes in the archive – or perhaps in the wild – that he would be itching to get to work on for Experience Hendrix. “There are tapes that I would love to get my hands on with John [McDermott] and Janie [Hendrix] and say, ‘Hey, maybe we can do X, or Y!’” he said.
Doing X or Y might involve some kind of separation, as Kramer explained how many of those original analogue recordings were tracked to tracked to a four-track recorded, then mixed onto a second four-track, and back again. Separating this information will be key to to restoring it.
“When one uses the phrase ‘AI’ it is really advanced digital manipulation, and now the technology has become so evolved that here is a cassette tape of John [Lennon], playing piano, and now they are able to isolate the voice,” he said. “We have always had something similar – maybe not as good – but now as the technology has expanded we are really able to become quite clever about the quality that remains thereafter, and if it requires some king of AI manipulation, okay, that’s fine.
“But it’s a digital piece of information and now we can go, ‘Wow! John’s voice.’ Same thing with Hendrix. I mean, I’m sure if we found another tape where Jimi’s voice is buried, I know I could use something similar – which I have used before but now it’s going to be on a much higher-level.”
Goyer said that Kramer’s tone gave him hope that there was something “around the corner” but Kramer said it might be some time yet before we hear news of any forthcoming release.
“I would hesitate to use ‘around the corner’ because that corner could be quite lengthy,” he said. “Hopefully, yes.”
Kramer’s latest work with Experience Hendrix brought us the the previously unheard and Hollywood Bowl set of 18 August 1967. That was one that he immediately knew he could work with. There could be more out there, including a rumoured recording from a New York club featuring Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.
“That’s possible,” said Kramer. “Was it the nightclub that eventually became Electric Lady Studios? Originally it was called the Village Barn and then it became The Generation nightclub, that Jimi used to go down and jam a lot in, then it became the Electric Lady. But who knows!? Somebody has got a cassette somewhere! Tell them to contact me and we’ll fix it.”
By Kramer’s reckoning, there is more chance of tapes out there in the wild of Hendrix’s live recordings. Hendrix’s front-of-house engineer, Abe Jacob, would often record the set. Some of the tapes Kramer has got ahold of were in excellent condition, and just needed some TLC to convert from analogue to digital to apply a spit and shine on the mix.
“This was the case with Hollywood Bowl,” he said. “Some guy had a tape machine and was running it off the console and whoever was doing the front-of-house put it together and the stereo out of the board fed into the machine.”
You can hear the full conversation on The Vinyl Guide podcast and follow the show on Patreon. Kramer also has a wicked story about the legendary Bob Ludwig ‘Hot Mix’ of Led Zeppelin II, and shares some wonderful memories of Hendrix.