For years, Hendrix collectors have argued about which version of the UK Electric Ladyland came first–the one with the white type or the blue type.
In 2014, I posted what I hoped would be the final word on what I called ‘The Blue Type Hype’, about the mistaken notion that the blue type version was the earliest pressing. (If you’re one of the 98% of collectors who couldn’t care less about this, I invite you to move on to something more interesting.“) If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can read my earlier posts on this topic here and here.
Here’s the short version: The white type version came first. In the earlier posts, I cite numerous reasons why, including testimony from UK collector Edwin Pouncey, who bought the white type version on the day of release; and my discussions with David King, who designed the cover, and told me the white version was the original, and the blue version came about because Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding were upset about the small size of their photos inside the gatefold. The blue type version was an attempt to mollify them, done by the printer, and though it featured larger photos of Mitchell and Redding, it had flawed blue type, so eventually Track Records reverted back to the original version with the white type and smaller pictures of Mitch and Noel.
Despite this, people still argued, prompted by misguided (and worse) Ebay sellers insisting that the blue came first. And then…a few weeks ago, wandering the internet, I found a post by the esteemed UK music writer and archivist Richard Morton Jack, with a clipping from the November 16, 1968 issue of UK music paper Top Pops, which features an Electric Ladyland display in the window of the London boutique I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, just as the album was released. As I stared at the photo, I realized this clipping provided definitive proof the white version came first.
How? If you double click on the scan above, in the lower left corner of the photo you’ll see the inner gatefold of some copies of Electric Ladyland in the display, and they are clearly the white type version, with the smaller photos of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. When I wrote Richard about this, he graciously sent me another photo of the window, where it’s even easier to see the inner gatefolds (with white type/smaller photos) of three albums.
So there you have it. Definitive photographic evidence from an Electric Ladyland display in London, published just a few weeks after the album’s release. While this confirms what the album’s designer told me, and Edwin Pouncey’s first person account, I have no doubt I’ll get emails from people with some twisted rationale for how it can’t be true. But it is true. As Public Enemy said, “Don’t believe the hype.”
July 6, 2018