Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Soup (1995)


I bought “Voodoo Soup” in 1995 when it came out, and not being aware of all the controversy of its production, was blown away. I was familiar with the vinyl albums released in the 70’s after Hendrix’s death, but they just felt clunky and odd.

I remember listening to those records in the late 80s and staring at the album covers like they were strange impostors that everyone was too polite to call out. They have great songs and sound well produced but there’s none of the theatrical presentation that had been evolving on his three original official releases. Those early posthumous albums sounded more like a random collection of songs.

“Voodoo Soup” actually has an extremely dramatic quality, a wonderful progression of tones and textures. There’s something of an arc to the changes across the track lineup. Some people find fault with having “Belly Button Window” as the first song that follows the intro, claiming “Freedom” is the logical choice here. If there’s one thing Jimi loved to do is shock and awe his audience, and I can’t think of anything more shocking and awesome than a pro-abortion song opening the show. I was simpatico when I first heard it in ’95 and I still am.

“Voodoo Soup” isn’t perfect, of course. I was disappointed that “Izabela” and “Dolly Dagger” were left off. I knew them from the 70’s records and expected them to be featured, but thanks to digital technology I can put ’em in there now and give myself a producing credit, like that Alan Douglas creep.

I didn’t know at the time that the instrumental numbers “Midnight” and “Peace In Mississippi” were from ’68, so I accepted them happily. In fact, I was unaware of all the remixing and overdubbing that criminal Douglas did, so I wasn’t predisposed to hate the whole project. I just grooved to its transcendental sounds and drifted with its ethereal flow, as happy as any idiot could be.

A few years later I listened to “First Rays of the New Rising Sun” and actually had a touch of that old feeling that something wasn’t quite right, that I was being conned just a little bit. “Voodoo Soup” had the luxury of being the first to make my acquaintance, and like a baby duckling seeing its mother for the first time, it left a deep imprint on my psyche.

“First Rays” would have to be pretty damn cosmically remarkable to replace “Voodoo Soup” as my sonic mommy. It didn’t. Something was off. Three song towards the end that are not on “Voodoo Soup” – “Straight Ahead”, “Earth Blues”, and “Astro Man” – are all actually a little weak, probably early roughs. And its mix of “In From the Storm” is cruder and clunky. “Rays” might be engorging the strident purists, but it left me somewhat limp.

It just kinda peters out. But “Voodoo Soup” builds to a crashing, apocalyptic three song finale. Very satisfying. Just no accounting for taste.

April 29, 2013 - Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Soup |

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