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"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" is the last track on Electric Ladyland, the third and final album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The song is known for its wah-wah-heavy guitar work. It is #101 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs of all time.[1]

The song was recorded in 1968, and was re-released as a single after Hendrix's death in 1970. It was the A side on a three-track record, and reached Number 1 in the UK. It was catalogued as "'Voodoo Chiled" (Slight Return), and that is the title which appears on the single and is the title referred to officially. The term "slight return" refers to the song's initial role as a reprise of the 15-minute track "Voodoo Chile" featured earlier on the album Electric Ladyland.

Origins and recording[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The genesis of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" was essentially in "Voodoo Chile", a long blues jam featuring guest Steve Winwood.[2] On May 3, 1968 (the day after "Voodoo Chile"'s recording), a crew from ABC filmed the Jimi Hendrix Experience while they played. As Hendrix explained it:

[S]omeone was filming when we started doing [Voodoo Child]. We did that about three times because they wanted to film us in the studio, to make us—"Make it look like you're recording, boys"—one of them scenes, you know, so, "OK, let's play this in E, a-one, a-two, a-three", and then we went into "Voodoo Child".[3]

The song became one of Hendrix's staples in live performances and would vary in length from 7 to 18 minutes. Notable live performances were at Woodstock and during his 1969 show at theRoyal Albert Hall, originally released on the posthumous Hendrix in the West album, later re-released on the Experienced Box Set. On the Band of Gypsys live album Live at the Fillmore East, Hendrix refers to the song as the Black Panthers' national anthem.

Personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Jimi Hendrix Experience
Production

Composition and analysis[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song is written (and played) in E, although because the instruments are tuned down a half-step, the pitches referenced below are heard a half-step lower than written.

The song is based around improvisation, as blues is renowned for being. The piece begins with Hendrix using a wah effect whilst strumming palm-muted strings, giving a percussive effect. He then brings in the intro riff still using his wah effect. The drum comes in with syncopated bass kicks in time to some of the guitar notes accenting them. The main riff then comes in with a drum fill. The guitar uses the blues’ flat 5 with a few note bends, hammer-ons and pull off are also used to add some legato. Jimi then takes off with a short solo which then moves to the first verse in which the guitar follows the vocal melody with the bass playing a steady, rhythmic E pedal note. The song then moves to a short pre-chorus which shies away from the E pedal point with Cm7 and Bm7 chords (both with no 5th) and after moving back to E the song hits the chorus. The chorus is repeated twice throughout the song, both times followed by a solo. After the first time, another verse is played. Another guitar solo then follows a chorus. This solo lasts just less than two minutes which is almost a third of the entire song duration. The guitar techniques used in this solo include: hammer-ons and pull-offs, pitch bends, use of wah pedal, tremolo picking, use of the tone selector on the guitar and many more. The song then fades out just as Jimi ends his solo leaving the song just over five minutes long.

Legacy[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Hendrix's solo was named the 11th greatest solo of all-time in Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar SolosGuitar Legends Issue #46. Hendrix was listed 6 times, more than any other artist on the list.

In the same issue Joe Satriani listed this as his favorite guitar solo:

"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."[this quote needs a citation]

Kenny Wayne Shepherd:

"This is pretty much the guitar anthem of all time. From that amazing opening riff to the way he breaks it down in the middle and gets funky, the whole thing is incredible. There are things Jimi did on the guitar that humans just can't do. You can try all day, even if you're playing the right notes, it's not the same. It definitely seems as if he was coming from a higher place when he played."[this quote needs a citation]

Cover versions[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • The song featured as a jam between Joe SatrianiSteve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, who also did the vocals, at G3: Live in Denver in 2003.
  • The intro of the song was sometimes covered by Slash before Guns N' Roses went into "Civil War" during their Use Your Illusion Tour.[4]
  • The song was also covered by the Kerekes Band hu:Kerekes Band for the 2011 album What The Folk and is a staple in the live setlist of the Kerekes Band (Hungary).[5]
  • The song has also been covered numerous times by Ben Harper during live performances[6]
  • The song was also covered by Angélique Kidjo for her 1998 album Oremi.
  • Another cover was recorded by Yngwie Malmsteen on the album The Genesis.
  • Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe used parts of the song during his guitar solo during the Carnival of Sins tour in 2006 and during Crüe Fest in 2008.
  • The song was covered by Zakk Wylde's band Pride and Glory also featuring Slash of Guns N' Roses at Gibson Guitar Corporation's 100th Anniversary.
  • Gabriel Ríos and Jef Neve made an acoustic cover of the song for Rios' album Angelhead/Morehead.
  • The song was covered by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and released as a bonus track on his "Blue on Black" single released in 1997 and is a staple in his live setlist.[citation needed]
  • It was also covered by Rob Thomas and pedal steel maestro Robert Randolph.
  • The track was covered by avid Hendrix fan[7] Stevie Ray Vaughan for his 1984 album Couldn't Stand the Weather in a slightly extended version. Stevie played this song all throughout his career, and it was included on his 1986 concert album Live Alive, as well as on several of his live video releases and the 2000 SRV retrospective box set.
  • Top of the Poppers covered the song in 1970, with their version later appearing on their album The Best of Top of the Pops '70 (Hallmark HALMCD 1037).
  • The song has also been covered numerous times by the Naughty Thoughts.
  • John Mayer performed this song live at his show at SPAC in Saratoga Springs, New York on August 8, 2010, at First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Illinois on August 14, 2010, at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City, UT, on August 31, 2010, and again at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO on September 1, 2010.
  • The song was covered and released by the Argentine band Divididos in their record "Acariciando lo Áspero".[8] The song is usually performed in their concerts. The guitar player, Ricardo Mollo, usually does the main riffs of the song with different objects such as trainers, tennis balls, drumsticks, carrots, and his own teeth.[9]
  • Gary Moore covered the song in 2007 during a Jimi Hendrix tribute show which was recorded and later released as "Blues For Jimi" in 2012, a year after Gary's death.

Other usage[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Samples of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" feature on the KMFDM song "We Must Awaken" from the Money album.The song has been featured in the films PaybackIn the Name of the FatherUnder SiegeAlmost FamousLords of DogtownBlack Hawk DownFlashback and Withnail and IStevie Ray Vaughan's cover of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" was also featured in the 2002 film Black Hawk Down. The song has also been featured in a Nissan Xterracommercial. In addition, pro wrestler Hulk Hogan has frequently used this song as his theme music, most notably as a member of the New World Order in WCW, his return to WWE as well as his current tenure in TNA.

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