Jul 232011

That’s what Jimi Hendrix was, a voodoo child. What made me think about him: I just got back from being away from home for two weeks because of my fucking day job. A couple nights ago, I was standing on a sidewalk having a cancer stick outside a restaurant where some co-workers and I had just finished dinner. It’s one of those places where the music they play inside was playing on a speaker outside, too. As I stood there puffing away, lost in thought and wishing I were home, “Voodoo Child” began playing.

I hadn’t listened to that song in at least 10 years. I’d forgotten how amazing it is. It also hit me that the song is metal. Of course, it’s not really a “metal song”, but the crunchy, distorted tone of Hendrix’ phenomenal riffs and the shrieking solos on the song sure hit me that way. “Voodoo Child”  continues to play in my head, so I thought I might as well just exorcise the demon by writing this post.

Some people who read this blog will know the song immediately. For others, it will be something new. For some readers, maybe even Hendrix will be new. Whether new or old, the song is worth hearing. Guitar wizard Joe Satriani said this about it: “It’s just the greatest piece of electric guitar work ever recorded. In fact, the whole song could be considered the holy grail of guitar expression and technique. It is a beacon of humanity.” Fuck yeah, I can’t disagree with that.

So, after the jump, a few more factoids about the song, and then 3 different streams: The album version of “Voodoo Child” from Electric Ladyland, a live version as performed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1969, and then a live version of the song as performed by another guitar wizard we lost too soon, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Electric Ladyland is the third and final album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” is the last track. After Jimi died in 1970, the song was released as a single and it hit #1 in the UK — the band’s only song to climb that high on a music chart. As a metalhead, I don’t read Rolling Stone magazine, but the song is #101 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The solo on “Voodoo Child” was also named the 11th greatest solo of all-time in Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

There are many live recordings of the song by Hendrix, but the best known are probably the ones at Woodstock and at that 1969 show at the Royal Albert Hall, which was recorded and released on a now-out-of-print-but-soon-to-be-reissued album called Hendrix In the West.

The late Stevie Ray Vaughan was also a phenomenal guitarist, and I heard him play this song live when I still lived in Texas. He was a Hendrix admirer, of course, and included a cover of the song on his 1984 album, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, which is where the track below comes from. He puts his own amazing spin on it, as you’ll hear.

So, enough with the factoids. Here’s the music. I would love to hear all of these with a modern metal drummer on the drum-track, but the guitars? Priceless.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”

[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/15-Voodoo-Child-Slight-Return.mp3|titles=The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)]

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Child” Live at Royal Albert Hall

[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Disc-3-09-Voodoo-Child-Slight-Return-Royal-Albert-Hall-London-UK-February-24-1969-Live-At-Royal-Albert-Hall-London.mp3|titles=The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Child (Live at Royal Albert Hall)]

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: “Voodoo Child”

[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/16-Voodoo-Child-Slight-Return-Live.mp3|titles=Stevie Ray Vaughan – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (Live)]

  7 Responses to “VOODOO CHILD”

  1. Someone make Mastodon cover this

    • I’ve been thinking for two days now that this song should be covered by a metal band, but having trouble figuring out who could do it justice. The song definitely has a sludgy, stoner vibe mixed in with the psychedelia and the blues, and yeah, I think Mastodon would do nicely.

      Just a guess, but I think maybe the reason metal bands don’t attempt to cover this famous song (at least none that I know of) is because of the challenges of dealing with the guitar parts. Who wants to be held up to comparison with Hendrix?

  2. Even on his worst days, Hendrix had few peers.

    Just imagine if he and SRV had gotten the chance to jam together… guitargasmic! I wish (and hope it does exist) that SRV would’ve tried to do Hendrix’s version of “All Along The Watchtower”, although that’s a tall order – a cover of a cover has to be damn perfect to work and to do one that’s actually better than the original (I think so, and Bob Dylan thinks very highly of Jimi’s take on his song)… well, I’d still like to hear Stevie play Jimi’s way.

    Odd that you post this now, seeing as the 27 Club (that Jimi’s a member of) got a new addition yesterday in Amy Winehouse.

    • Total coincidence — I didn’t know about Amy WInehouse’s OD. As for SRV and “Watchtower”, I don’t think he ever recorded a cover of it — at least not that I’ve found. I would love to hear it though. I assume you’ve heard his cover of “Little Wing”, which is stupendous. But, if not:


    • And speaking of the 27 Club, it really is a freaky coincidence that Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and Cobain all died at that age. I’m afraid I wouldn’t personally include Amy Winehouse in that company. 🙂

  3. More than them, but Winehouse (who I will include, even if not part of the members condiered the “main” group) and Robert Johnson are among the better known members of the club. I’m sure there are many, many more than I’m not aware of (and that aren’t listed in the wiki entry for it). There is a spike in musician deaths at the age of 27, though. Unfunny how things work out that way.

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