Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2011, Volume 18, #7
Written by John Metzger
Thu October 27, 2011, 05:30 AM CDT
Over the years, numerous artists have paid homage to the legacy of Jimi Hendrix. Some have woven his material into the fabric of their own studio efforts, while others have leant their talents to full-length tribute sets. Not surprisingly, though, the results largely have been hit-and-miss. After all, Hendrix flew so close to the sun that he made it extremely challenging for anyone to follow in his footsteps. To do so undeniably is to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the gods.
Although it was issued only seven years ago, Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix recently re-emerged as part of the latest Hendrix-oriented marketing campaign. Assembled under the watchful eye of the family business, the collection features a balanced mixture of high-profile artists and lesser-known talents, all of whom tackle an array of Hendrix’s best-known songs. Designed as a successor to Stone Free, which was released in 1993, Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix cuts a broader swath through the late guitarist’s canon. In the process, it provides a better demonstration of the musical breadth of Hendrix’s output.
Even so, in spite of its eclectic textures, Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix has one big drawback. Because his family was so heavily involved in the project — his sister Janie and Sheldon Reynolds, who was her husband at the time, produced the affair — none of the artists who contributed material to the endeavor truly deviated from the templates that Hendrix provided. For the most part, they simply fulfill the roles that they were hired to play: Supported by George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars, Bootsy Collins outlines the hard-hitting, funk-driven contours of the title track; Sting and John McLaughlin unite for a soulful interpretation of The Wind Cries Mary; joined by Living Colour’s Corey Glover, Carlos Santana embraces the metallic clatter of Spanish Castle Magic.
Make no mistake — all of the selections on Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix are solidly delivered. Although he weirdly re-christened Red House as Purple House, there is no denying the charge that Prince puts into the performance. Later in the set, John Lee Hooker tackles the same tune, albeit in his own inimitably spooky style. Elsewhere, the improbable pairing of Chaka Khan and guitarist Kenny Olson produces a stirring rendition of Little Wing, while Robert Randolph laces Purple Haze with the slicing sound of his pedal steel guitar.
In the end, though, there really aren’t any surprises that arise during Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Although its 73-minute suite of performances is admirably assembled, the outing also fails to capture the imagination quite like Hendrix’s original recordings have always done. For certain, his material requires respect, but the reverence that the contributors to Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix pay to his work is so tremendous that they ultimately forget to highlight Hendrix’s seemingly never-ending ingenuity. Without this, Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix never amounts to anything more than a collection of cover tunes.
Of Further Interest...
Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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