Much has been mentioned about Jimi Hendrix as being not merely a rock guitarist but also a composer, whose songs were so well thought out that even now he is often regarded as the greatest instrumentalist of his day, the Mount Everest of the electric guitar. People such as Gil Evans and Miles Davis were enamoured with him, to the extent that both would honour his memory and genius in the 1970’s, albeit in their own way. Featuring the London Metropolitan Orchestra, In From The Storm is in another class entirely, where the likes of Sting, Santana, John McLaughlin, Stanley Clarke, Taj Mahal, Paul Rogers, Tony Williams, Brian May, Billy Cox, Corey Glover, Toots Thielemans, Noel Redding, Steve Vai, Buddy Miles, and what could have been half the cast of the Wizard of Oz, all join forces in what has to be one of most ambitious Hendrix tribute albums ever.
The LP begins appropriately with “…And The Gods Made Love”, a composition well suited to orchestration, although we soon get into chocolate box territory on “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)”, throughout which the orchestra quickly outstays its welcome, detracting from the main instrumentalists. Far better is “Rainy Day, Dream Away”, a down to earth New York jazz piece that was originally improvised in the studio by Jimi. John McLaughlin and Sting lend their considerable talents to “The Wind Cries Mary”, giving the tune a jazz-fusion injection, while “Spanish Castle Magic” is allowed a Hollywood makeover, sounding more like something from Aladdin than Axis: Bold As Love.
On “Little Wing” Toots offers an almost impressionist interpretation of one of Hendrix’s finest songs, while “In From The Storm” is given the full orchestration overload it perhaps never really deserved, as is “Drifting”, a beautiful ballad here transformed into something straight out of Walt Disney. Likewise “Bold As Love” and “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”, both transformed into little more than parodies of their former selves.
The semi-Rococo adaptation of “Purple Haze” lacks the danger of the original. In other words, pointless, however “One Rainy Wish” is rather good. Whatever your views are on Queen, Brian May is an outstanding guitarist, so it’s not surprising that he would record what has to be the best track of the album, with some inspired lead breaks along with intelligent phrasing throughout.
What Hendrix might have made of In From The Storm one can only surmise. That his tastes stretched from Bach to Bo Diddley, meant that he was highly evolved in his own musical concepts, we know for sure. But whether this album reaches those heights, is a matter of opinion. Hendrix was an amazing guitarist, that much is true, a sonic explorer, someone who pushed the outer limits like no other. And so for all his delta-cosmic blues, one gets the feeling that he may have been impressed yet at the same time puzzled by the attention and consideration given to his compositions. Which in themselves, were something out of this world.