There aren’t that many musicians that can describe das utterly unique. Jimi Hendrix is one though. His amazing body of music, and the astonishing way in which he played his guitar, simply rewrote the rule book in the late 60s. Many bands, often featuring accomplished musicians like Cream, followed in his wake, but none could get near the magic of Jimi and his band.
So on one level covering a Jimi song is a bit of dumb move. How you can hope to compete with something that was so distinctive? Yet many foolhardy musicians have tried to plunder the Hendrix songbook, often with unintentionally hilarious results,
We have pulled together ten of them here. Each is in its own way slightly bizarre but also rather memorable too. Spotify play list at the bottom of the page
The Gil Evans Orchestra – Crosstown Traffic – Jazz bloke Gil Evans loved Hendrix so much that he made an entire album of his songs and gave them a very funky jazzy vibe. When it works, like on Crosstown Traffic, it works brilliantly. We have also included his mellow version of Angel – which wouldn’t sound out of place at some schmoozy wine bar – not very Jimi.
The Cure – Purple Haze – In which Jimi goes goth-lite. Robert Smith was always a big fan of Hendrix – there’s a bit of Hendrix on his early 80s psychedelic collaboration Blue Sunshine. This takes the original and slows it down and adds some modern sounding drums and odd vocals. Kind of fun though.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Hey Joe – Ok so Hey Joe isn’t actually a Hendrix original, and yep I prefer The Leaves version, but it is probably more associated with Jimi than anyone else. Here the Aussie goth balladeer turns the drama up to eleven and delivers a stunning, yet very eery version. It is from the covers album Kicking Against the Pricks.
Soft Cell – Hendrix Medley - Yep you read it right. In the early 80s Marc and Dave had a bash at three Hendrix classics as part of the Art Of Falling Apart debut album sessions. It is all tortured vocals, synths and drum machines. Voodoo Chile is the oddest of the three. Borderline unlistenable. Marc Almond recorded some more great 60s covers later as Marc and The Mambas.
Jamie Cullum -The Wind Cries Mary - Piano lead easy cheesy version from the jazz vocalist. Actually rather good IMO.
Booker T and The MGs – Foxy Lady – One of of several great funky versions of the track. This instrumental take from the Green Onions fellas is easy soul crossver gold.
Dion – Purple Haze – This might just be my favourite, Dion made a couple of great folk pop albums in the late 60s and this slowed down acoustic version of Purple Haze is genius. Nothing like the original, but it maintains its fragile beauty.
XTC – All Along The Watchtower – Swindon’s finest post punk psychsters used to do a blistering version of this when they played live (so I am told). This takes the Hendrix version of the Dylan song and adds squeaky vocals and dub bass before descending into a bizarre reggae-ish finale.
Spongehead – Love or Confusion – 80s Brooklynites with a bonkers version of the tune.
More Jimi – buy his guitar here.