The John Mayer Trio: “Axis: Bold as Love” (Jimi Hendrix)

I am a bit of two minds about this video. I’ve had a positive impression of John Mayer ever since I happened across his Room for Squares CD (Sony CK 85293), which I wrote about in Stereophile in 2003, thusly:

Rock singer-songwriter-guitarist Mayer is often compared to Dave Matthews, but for me
his combination of bedevilment over the fair sex, wry wordplay, smooth arrangements,
and low-key vocal delivery strongly calls to mind Michael Franks’ early work.

So, I start out predisposed to whatever John Mayer feels like doing at any time–even though I have not been wowed by all of it. Therefore, to hear him in the “Rock Power Trio” format with totally committed bass player and drummer is good, and to hear them cover one of Jimi Hendrix’ strongest self-penned numbers is even better.

For those who think of John Mayer only as a modern Arrow Collar Man who uses his chiseled good looks to fill arenas with fetching young lasses, his guitar chops here might prompt a reconsideration.

That said, from where I sit, for a young man Mayer’s age to give a little sermonette in the middle of a song about how he’s done it all and how most of his life appears to be behind him but, there’s “something I need to check out, before I check out,” is laugh-out-loud funny. Oh, please. (So you might want to fast-forward from 3:30 to 5:20—but don’t miss Mayer’s concluding solo and outro!)

So, sermonette and all, here’s the John Mayer Trio (John Mayer, Pino Palladino, and Steve Jordan) covering with complete self-confidence Jimi Hendrix’ extravagantly enigmatic title track to the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s second studio album, Axis: Bold as Love. (From the DVD John Mayer: Where The Light Is, Live in Los Angeles 2008.)

BTW, I just love the matching suits!

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