Thirty years after the death of Jimi Hendrix, RUF records have assembled a range of artists to pay their own tribute by re-recording some of the Hendrix repertoire. Most of the artists will be familiar to blues fans, but there a few interlopers, and a few new names too.
Hendrix has inspired a lot of people over the years, and many of the songs he recorded cannot be bettered. This is reflected in several places here, with a number of artists going for a pretty straight cover version of the Hendrix version. Walter Trout, for example, does a good take of "Hey Joe" with The Free Radicals, and of "Who Knows" in tandem with Popa Chubby and Jimmy Thackery.
The most poignant track is "The Wind Cries Mary." Although pretty similar to the original, it pairs together Buddy Miles (drummer with the Band of Gypsies) with SRV's band (Double Trouble). The best tracks, though, are those where the spirit of the songs have been used to create a new version without straying outside of the blues genre. In this respect the slightly funky version of "All Along The Watchtower" (Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues Band), the excellent revamp of "Remember" (Alvin Youngblood Hart), and the basic--piano and vocals --interpretation of "Angel" (Eric Bibb) all elevate things to a higher plane.
The interloper is Michelle Shocked, who serves up a decent version of "House Burning Down", whilst the new names include Friend 'n' Fellow who cover "Purple Haze" using a programmed drum beat, which never quite works. The oldest name here is probably Eric Burdon, who chips in
with three tracks: an overlong rendition of "I Don't Live Today," and the closing segue of "Third Stone From The Sun/The Story of Life" which rounds things off quite nicely.
Like many tribute albums, "Blue Haze" is something of a mixed bag. The best bits are very good, and the straight reworkings are mostly fine, but as an introduction to Hendrix's music you are probably better off looking elsewhere. If you want to hear the likes of Walter Trout paying their
dues, however, then this on will be for you, so check out the details at www.rufrecords.de.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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