There is a now annual series of shows in the USA under the name “Experience Hendrix” in which contemporary guitar heroes (and maybe heroes from a couple of generations back) play homage to a man who left a big imprint on rock guitar playing. A side benefit of this sort of show with lots of guest players is that guys who may be aware of each other, admire each other’s work but are too busy with their own gigs to pay each other serious attention may be put in touch with each other. So it was a few years back when Hidalgo, Dickinson and Nanji all ended up on the same stage together through their participation in an Experience Hendrix show. They decided to work together on their own collaborative project in the future, and the fruits of all of this is 3 Skulls And The Truth (and I’m not being lazy or sloppy, that’s what it says on the CD cover).
The ghost of Hendrix is still hanging around, but then Hendrix cast a long shadow and as time goes by the reach of his influence becomes ever more apparent. Sometimes this record sounds like Hendrix, other times it brings to mind. Robin Trower, Stevie Ray Vaughan or even Lenny Kravitz or Robin Trower – which is to say it sounds a lot like Hendrix. But not in an imitative way, but more like “inspired by” or “rubbed off on…”.
The guitar playing is very much the thing. The songs are guitar tunes, compositions that lend themselves to crunching riffs or an electric solo or two. Or three. And boy there is a lot of soloing on this record, and boy it is really, really good.
Hidalgo’s reputation has often sometimes outshone his performance, but here there’s no room for doubt as he plays with great fire and freedom. Dickinson has cut his own reputation as a guitarist in recent years – mostly with the Black Crowes or his own North Mississippi Allstars. Manji is the least widely known of this threesome, but fame and skills dont correlate much skills and he’s no less impressive.
The most obvious Hendrix borrowing is the inventivness and fluidity of the soloing. All three deliver repeatedly. If ZZ Top or Stevie Ray are your idea of a guitar good time then you’ll want to get this. If (like the blogger) you enjoy a high quality electric guitar racket as much at the next man but want to be a bit more elitist about things you can have just as much fun.
This in many ways NOT a groundbreaking record. It is short on innovation and artistic ambition, but is long on energy, rhythm and butt-kicking guitar playing.