Big Noise: Mississippi Queen
“Mississippi Queen” was recorded by Leslie West and Mountain in the 1960s. I always loved the original, and when amp modelers came along to give me all the grunt I could want, I made sure to develop an arrangement for it.
This version is played and sung live with looper accompaniment, recorded live in stereo. It’s a good example of the rock-oriented material I’m working on now, and of how the Digitech RPs make the big sounds that make it work. The looper is running drums, bass, and a harmonica part played on one of my patches for the Digitech RP350, a Matchless amp model with a Digitech FX25 envelope filter model. I love the FX25 model on harp–it’s easier to control than the original, and it gives the harp a totally different character, like a wah wah guitar. Since there’s only one live and one recorded harp part, this music could be played live with only two harp players, which is something I’d like to try sometime.
The live harmonica parts include the same FX25 patch running on the RP355, side by side with an RP350 running the Dark Blue Champ patch. I really like the way an autowah exaggerates every expressive move on the harp, and the Dark Blue Champ beefs it up. At the end of the chain, a Whammy patch on the RP255 shifts everything a whole step down under footpedal control. That’s how I get the slide guitar effect on the chords. I’m singing through an RP250 running one of my new vocal patches with a slapback delay. So that’s four RPs on the floor, three dedicated to harp, one to vocals. All of these sounds, of course, are found in my patch sets for the Digitech RP 250/255/350/355.
Everything is amped through Peavey KB2 and Peavey KB/A100 keyboard amps. The latter has a lot more bass than the former, and the stereo amps make the modulation FX in particular come alive. I recorded live through a Zoom H4 positioned to point a mic at each of the keyboard amps from less than a foot away. I compressed and EQed the live recording to make it louder and clearer. Otherwise, there’s no editing.
Just for extra fun, here’s a live video recording of Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, and Corky Laing (a/k/a Mountain) playing this tune at Randall’s Island in 1970. The music starts at about 1:30. Rock n’ roll!