Monday, June 3, 2013

Jimi Hendrix 12: Voodoo Soup

Because Jimi never finished his fourth studio album, anything purporting to be exactly that is subject to speculation. Therefore, the possibilities are endless. But because The Cry Of Love had been around for over twenty years, for good or bad it was something of an accepted standard. It took that long for something else to be presented as a possible alternative, and sparks flew.
Once again the culprit was Alan Douglas, who’d already “tampered” with the archives. Now he attempted to present another possible sequence for a fourth Hendrix album, with the wacky title of Voodoo Soup and anachronistic cover art to match. Seven songs from Cry Of Love join two each from Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes, plus three other “new” tracks.
Naturally, being the ‘90s, the songs had slightly different mixes from the originals, with two glaring exceptions. On “Stepping Stone” and “Room Full Of Mirrors”, Buddy Miles’ original drum tracks were replaced by a new accompaniment supplied personally by one of the album’s coordinators, whose previous claim to fame is that he also was the drummer for The Knack. Whether or not he was competent is moot, of course; once you know he’s there it’s tough to ignore the fact.
The album seems to want to turn Cry Of Love on its head, beginning with something of an overture in “The New Rising Sun”, a three-minute instrumental segment of a larger unfinished piece. It’s pretty dreamy, in the positive sense of the word, but fades into “Belly Button Window”, the song that previously closed Cry Of Love. The altered “Stepping Stone” comes next, adding another alternate to the pile of mixes Jimi discarded in his lifetime; the new, galloping drums threaten to run away with the track. “Freedom” is fairly similar, but “Angel” has a less processed vocal than before, and doesn’t fade, making for a nice variation. “Room Full Of Mirrors” already had a dizzying mix, and this new version (with 1995 drums) provides another trip through the fun house. While “Midnight” and “Peace In Mississippi” are great jams, being earlier Experience recordings puts them somewhat outside of that “fourth album” idea.
“Night Bird Flying”, “Drifting” and “Ezy Ryder” each tone down the congas that were so prominent on the earlier mixes; “Pali Gap” is slightly edited to sound less like the improv’d jam it was. “Message To Love” is a studio take of the song familiar from Band Of Gypsys, and somehow sounds out of sync mixwise with the rest of the era. “In From The Storm” was the penultimate track on Cry Of Love, and here it’s allowed to close the set.
Except that it’s a purely speculative compilation, there really isn’t anything “wrong” with Voodoo Soup, making it a fairly enjoyable mix tape, and a worthy candidate for whatever his next album might have been. Still, enough people couldn’t get past the whole Knack connection, and since several previously released contenders were excluded from the hour-long sequence, nobody was happy. Least of all the Estate, which deleted it as soon as they could, thus guaranteeing Voodoo Soup collector’s item status.

Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Soup (1995)—4
Current CD equivalent: none

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