There is a local musician here in Columbus named Willie Phoenix that I swear is the second coming of Jimi Hendrix.  I’m sure that statement is blasphemy to true Hendrix fans, but Hendrix died six years before I was born and Willie is the best I have ever seen.  That’s right: the absolute best guitar player I have ever seen.  Willie is somewhat of a local legend.  Apparently he had a shot on a major label at one point, but despite his amazing talent, it didn’t work out for him.  Like Hendrix, he plays a right handed guitar upside down and backwards, and every time I have seen him live, he has killed it.  And he also helped my favorite local band, Watershed, by producing their demo back when they were a struggling college band in the early nineties.

I don’t mean for this entire blog to be about Willie Phoenix and not Jimi Hendrix…I guess I’m just lucky to have a musician in my city that can even come close to evoking the greatness that was Jimi Hendrix in the late sixties.  You see, I am actually not that “experienced” when it comes to the music of Jimi Hendrix.  I’m sure other people from my generation can relate to the fact that my first conscious memory of a Hendrix song was watching Garth schwing across a diner to “Foxey Lady” in Wayne’s World.  A couple years after that infamous scene, I was in Record Den (Record Den is a store in Mentor.  It used to be in the Great Lakes Mall and now it is on Mentor Avenue.  It was our hub for Pearl Jam and Nirvana bootlegs back in the day. I stopped in there two weeks ago, and it is still an awesome store. There also used to be one in the Millcreek Mall in Erie, PA, but I don’t know if it still there.), and Lightning 101 convinced me to buy a bootleg called “The Jimi Hendrix Anthology”.  I still have it…the song selection is pretty good, but like most bootlegs, the sound quality is pretty lacking.  Other than “May This Be Love” appearing somewhat randomly alongside several early 90’s Seattle bands on the Singles soundtrack (best. soundtrack. ever.), that pretty much sums up my Jimi Hendrix “experience” until now.

So listening to this album, I was struck by how expressively Hendrix played guitar.  Hearing other people talk about Hendrix, I had always just assumed he was simply regarded as a guitar virtuoso.  And while his playing certainly shows signs of virtuosity, it was the expressive qualities of his playing that really drew me into the songs.  The eternal debate in music circles has always been over which is more important: virtuosity or expressiveness, and I have always leaned heavily towards the side of expression.  In fact, many of the great guitar “gods” like Yngwie Malmsteen or Eddie Van Halen have never really done much for me, and I have always perferred guitarists like Slash or Eric Clapton that play very lyrically.  But Hendrix manages to mix both experimental technique with some very moving lyrical passages, which I guess is probably one of the reasons that so many people consider him to be the greatest of all time.

I picked this album up for $8.95 on Amazon.  The seller emailed me to tell me that the CD was meticulously cared for and was from his personal collection.  So if you are out there reading this Newpromo, be assured your CD found a safe home 🙂

Other lists: “Purple Haze” is #17, “Foxey Lady” is “153, “Hey Joe” is #201, and “The Wind Cries Mary” is #379 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Hendrix is listed as #6 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists, and oh yeah, he is #1 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.

My favorite track: “May This Be Love”

Honorable mention: “The Wind Cries Mary” (although the bonus tracks are pretty great too, especially “Red House”)

Quote: “Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?”

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