Forgotten series: Mahogany Rush – Strange Universe (1975)

Guitarist Frank Marino flaunted his Jimi Hendrix fetish to extreme effects, going as far as saying the spirit of the great axeman entered his body shortly after his death in 1970, resulting in a transfer of talent and ideas.

Such a remark was later revealed to be strictly for publicity purposes, which popped my balloon as how cool it would have been if something of a paranormal nature truly did occur.

Not only does Frank’s amazing guitar playing sound uncannily like the wizardry wares of his mentor, but his sensually expressive vocals and esoteric essays also strongly emulate those of Master Hendrix in a most stunning manner.

Originally released in 1975 on the 20th Century label, and reissued in 1989 by Repertoire Records, Strange Universe marked Mahogany Rush’s third album, and according to these ears, is the best of the bundle. Teeming and streaming with dynamic shifts dripping with flash and class, not to mention plenty of lashing and crashing, the disc expertly assimilates an array of styles into one memorable memento.

Sparked by sweeping rhythms and zooming riffs, “Tales Of The Spanish Warrior” shimmers and soars with space age signals, “Dancing Lady” wiggles to a fierce and funky beat, and “Once Again” ripples and rolls with bubbly blues licks.

A hard and heavy code directs the course on “Dear Music,” where “Moonlight Lady” favors a softer touch, pronounced by graceful melody lines. Blowing wispy psychedelic smoke rings, the title track of the album closes the gig on a breathtaking note.

Powerful and trippy, Strange Universe is the finest record Jimi Hendrix never made. While there’s no argument the songs freely steal snippets of the king of the six-string’s work, Mahogany Rush’s enthusiasm, paired with their hot chops, allows forgiveness for being so blatantly imitative. Jimi would indeed be flattered a band so in tune with his vision carried on with love and respect.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.