Billy Cox and Buddy Miles

The Band of Gypsys Return | Experience Hendrix  
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  July 5, 2006
3.5 3.5 Stars

HEAVY: Jimi's stuff holds up, and Cox is an underrated talent
The Jimi Hendrix Experience cut the pop hits, like “Manic Depression” and “Foxey Lady,” but the heaviest music Jimi made was with his Band of Gypsys — first with his former Air Force pal Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums, then with former Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell replacing Miles in the rhythm section. This new album pairs Cox and Miles with a crew of guitar slingers who air their jones for Jimi. They cut classic tunes by the Gypsys and the Experience as well as a couple of new numbers by Cox that echo his chitlin-circuit days with Jimmy before he became Jimi.

The best of the Cox compositions is “Let Your Word Be Your Bond,” a straight shot of contemporary Southern soul in the Z.Z. Hill/Denise LaSalle mode. The most expressive number is the Vietnam/civil-rights-era protest “Machine Gun,” where Miles re-creates his warbling vocal while Cox makes the bottom fat and guest Andy Aledort, who’s played with Dickie Betts and Johnny Winter, rips though beautiful sonic explorations that cling to the bones of Hendrix’s guitar playing on the Band of Gypsys live-album version. Eric Gales also offers distinguished licksmanship on two live tracks: the funky “Who Knows” and “Foxey Lady.” This album is a testimonial to the expressive durability of Hendrix’s material and the sheer big-boned authority of Cox, one of the great underrated musicians of rock’s golden era.

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