This cover of Day Tripper was recorded in a BBC radio studio by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in December 1967. Even a Hendrix-Head would be unlikely to single it out as a classic cover. Jimi does a messy, boisterous, version of The Beatles’ riffiest song. It’s cheeky and cheerful, but it’s not Jimi in all his psychedelic glory. (Why not All Along the Watchtower? I’ll leave it to others to deal with the ‘Bob Cover Problem’.)
The main selling point – stay with me now – is the finest uses of feedback ever committed to record. Guitar break one commences with a demented, alien, arpeggio of feedback. It sounds like a radio being tuned in. This is not an accident; it’s repeated at the start of the second guitar break. The second break is to all intents and purposes standard-issue Hendrix; sound and fury signifying libidinal liberation if you like it, flash wankery if you don’t. But how to top it off without the Beatles’ sweet suspended harmony? Thus. Hendrix sings ‘you out of your mind!’ (not a reproach to the Day Tripper but the highest possible psychedelic complement) and unleashes a feedback scream (2:39). The scream continues to poison the air even during the reprise of the riff. There’s a final hurrah at the very end, when a chord, soured by feedback, is whammied into submission. But the scream’s the thing: it’s noise, and it’s perfect. You out of your mind.
Stephen Philip Riley