Merrell Fankhauser – Rainbow Bridge Revisited (2013)

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Less than two months before he left his earthly body for greener pastures on September 18, 1970, guitar god Jimi Hendrix played a free concert on the slopes of Haleakala, a volcano located in Maui, Hawaii, that was forever immortalized in film and on record.

Merrell Fankhauser, an amazingly brilliant fretman in his own right, not only salutes his dearly departed peer in an impressively credible manner here, but he also contributes a stash of spectacular self-composed tracks to the collection. The package further contains a DVD featuring interviews with folks who appeared in the Rainbow Bridge movie.

A shimmering instrumental version of “All Along The Watchtower” opens the ceremonies on Rainbow Bridge Revisited (Gonzo Multimedia), while a cover of “Waterfall” remains loyal to the initial recording, which floats and glides with beauty and grace. Original numbers like “Calling From A Star,” that expertly fuses a bobbing Bo Diddley styled beat with washes of spacy psychedelic effects, and “The Wall,” a blues rooted groover riffing on lip-smacking licks and potent harmonica work, dial in as the ultimate definition of cool, and then there’s instrumentals such as the jazzy hard rocking lounge pop of “Hookipa,” the gorgeously textured “Mother Sea,” the catchy and crushing grip of “Last Wave At Hanalei” and the driving vintage surf sounds of “Monster Swell” and “Surfin’ 101” that sit tight as additional top-drawer dandies.

Flickering and flourishing with creative melodies, compact arrangements and expressive guitar exercises by the score, Rainbow Bridge Revisited exposes Merrell’s talent for bringing a variety of moods and shades together in a single light. Jimi Hendrix tributes may be a dime a dozen, but this baby offers something off the beaten path. And what’s even better is that it is brought to you by a fellow, who for five decades, has been producing some of the most awesome music imaginable.

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