Ten more songs that Jimi Hendrix once played grace the second volume of Lion Music's The Spirit Lives On: The Music of Jimi Hendrix series, to go along with the 13 cuts on volume one. Where Regi Hendrix wrote the liners to the first collection, it is metal guitarist Lars Eric Mattson who does the honors here, and who opens the disc with an exciting "Room Full of Mirrors" aided by Megadeth's Chris Poland and vocalist Alf Wemmenlind of the band Mister Kite. It's hard and driving -- as is Winterlong's look at "Purple Haze." This is a far cry from Buddy Miles semi-orchestrated dance version on the In From the Storm tribute, and at some point do we stop rating this music in terms of how much it adds to the Hendrix legacy and start comparing it to all the covers finding their way to the marketplace? This allows the instrumental of Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" by Tommy Denander to emerge as one of the album's shining moments -- a terrific reinvention of Miles' songwriting contribution to the Band of Gypsys album. It is followed by another non-vocal gem, Condition Red's lovely and moody instrumental reading of "Villanova Junction" -- an interesting track Hendrix performed on Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock -- covered by Arlen Roth on the 2003 Horizon compilation Voodoo Crossing: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix -- proving that even the master's obscure titles are starting to get extra play.
Condition Red at least put a new breath into this lilting approach, though it is the Hendrix delivery at Woodstock which carries something special. Torben Enevoldsen takes on "Who Knows?," another slice from the Band of Gypsys outing, and in this context it works very well, though Jeff Richman does a jazzy rendition on Horizon's second volume of covers released in 2005 -- Gypsy Blood: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix Volume 2 -- with Robert Trout and Popa Chubby also covering the tune on the Blue Haze: Songs of Jimi Hendrix title issued in 2000. You need a scorecard to keep track of Hendrix's own versions as well as the amazing amount of covers that just keep proliferating. So perhaps it comes down to personal taste -- in which case one may find Dave Martone's transcendent instrumental of "Angel" on this compilation to truly be in "the spirit" of Jimi Hendrix -- spacey, other-worldly, and a delight for the ears. The song drifts away from Hendrix's original concept and takes on a life of its own, evolving with stunning moments despite the fact that everyone from Rod Stewart to Jeff Healey and Gil Evans have walked down this path. Heck, the song shows up on If 69 Was 96 by Pinguin Moschner and on Roy Mette's A New Experience: An Acoustic Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, two more nods to Hendrix's seemingly endless influence. And perhaps because so many have jumped on the bandwagon these releases tend to become a blur. That's a pity because The Spirit Lives On: The Music of Jimi Hendrix Vol. 2 is a fun listening experience with some innovation and substance that gives it the thumbs up.