Like most tribute albums, Power of Soul is more compelling on paper than in practice. As an attempt to showcase the R&B side of Jimi Hendrix's considerable legacy, it's certainly laudable; the fact that the work of this musical titan, like that of so many blues legends, appeals almost exclusively to white audiences these days is a disgrace. And there's no denying the great moments, like hearing Hendrix's rightful heir, Prince, take an audacious rip through "Red House" (retitled, of course, "Purple House") or even second-tier descendant Lenny Kravitz faithfully essaying "Electric Ladyland."
The disappointment is that most of the actual R&B acts involved are veterans (Chaka Khan; George Clinton; Earth, Wind & Fire), themselves fighting to avoid the lily-white, golden-oldies ghetto. Purists may be horrified at Cee-Lo's gospeldelic reworking of "Foxey Lady," or even by urban smoothie Musiq tackling the anthem "Are You Experienced," but contributions from the hip-hop generation -- rather than predictable bet-hedgers from Sting and Eric Clapton -- are what will keep Jimi's spirit alive. Given the aim of this collection (which also benefits the United Negro College Fund), it might have been nice to get more of the Hendrix experience from the less experienced.