html> Various Artists "Voodoo Crossing: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix"

Various Artists "Voodoo Crossing: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix - Vol. 1"

Various Artists
"Voodoo Crossing: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix - Vol. 1"
Comet Records

CD review by Roger-Z (2/19/05)

I lusted after this CD from the very first time I glimpsed its gorgeous cover lying on the floor of a friend's house. This tribute to Jimi Hendrix orchestrated by a small, Italian label, Comet Records, features an assortment of medium to lesser known artists.

Unfortunately, looks can deceive. Growing up in the 60's, my earliest experiences with live rock came from the bountiful school, church, and temple dances. We mixed it up to Traffic, The Doors, Cream, The Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, James Gang, The Blues Project as well as Jimi Hendrix. A band played songs that fell into two categories -- fast and slow.

Despite the enticing come on, this CD lacks soul. Sure these guys wail on guitar, but you can't move your feet to most of it. Jimi's genius encompassed so much more than just great guitar playing. Despite the hard rock label, Jimi's grooves always featured an airy, bouncy touch. The bass anchored the middle while the drums rocked underneath and the guitar floated above. In contrast, most of these tunes feature thick, Les Paul sounding guitars mired in rhythms of sludge. Simple put, "Where's the groove?"

Two guys on this record get it -- the 70's fusion guitarist Larry Coryell and newcomer, Mike Onesco. On "House Burning Down," Mr. Coryell rips through scales and modes utterly beyond my comprehension, goaded on by an electronic house beat that I can't even count! No rhythm guitar clutters up the middle. On first listen to "Hey Joe," I thought I heard the distinctive touch of Robin Trower. Oops, wrong guy!. Mike Onesko and group manage to blow new life into this classic. And once again, the beat drives the song. Picture, if you will, a giant, hovering, cloud of tremelo.

To be fair, a few other artists aim for the sky and almost hit their mark. "Villanova Junction Blues" features Telecaster master Arlen Roth working out over this slow blues that closes the movie "Woodstock." Despite his masterful bag of tricks including octaves and violin sounds, the groove never quite gels. "Red House," covered by relative unknown Joe Colombo, starts with a great concept (one I've since "borrowed"). Turn it into a slide song. And it kills until the drummer becomes possessed by the spirit of Keith Moon.

The big names on this CD include Steve Lukather of Toto ("Third Stone From The Sun"), Robben Ford ("Message To Love"), Hiram Bullock of the David Letterman show ("Voodoo Chile"), and Pat Travers ("I Don't Live Today"). But none manage to conjure up the magic that illuminates the original version. Too much guitar, not enough beat or vision.

Wouldn't it be great to hear Sly Stone or Earth, Wind and Fire cover "Message To Love?" How about Pat Metheny doing "Third Stone From The Stone?" What about Snoop Dogg doing "Up From The Skies?" Take a stand. Put some beats on these tunes, please!

2005 Roger-Z