It takes a few tracks before you begin to realize that this is a good idea. On The Jamie Neverts Story, legendary Rocket From the Tombs and Televison guitarist Richard Lloyd covers a bunch of Hendrix tunes, in tribute both to Jimi and to a late friend, Velvert Turner. Lloyd’s voice just can’t hang with either the stoned smoothness of “Purple Haze” nor the passionate “I Don’t Live Today.” But by the fifth track, “May This Be Love,” you start to believe. By the moving and powerful version of “Castles Made of Sand,” you feel like this might be one of his better moves in a decade. As usual, his poetic and slightly droning guitar is flawless, especially on “Bold As Love” and “Wait Until Tomorrow.” In his grief for a friend, Lloyd reveals hidden pockets of sadness in Hendrix songs where sadness was already a main ingredient.
Lloyd kept his gear simple, using no effects pedals, fuzz or feedback, just his Strat and his chops, which are considerable. The band is spare, too, a trio featuring Keith Hartel on bass and drummer Chris Purdy, though there is a brief appearance by former Television drummer Billy Ficca.
Richard Lloyd has talent to burn, was in two legendary, seminal punk bands, and was punched in the face by Jimi Hendrix after congratulating him between sets of Band of Gypsys test gigs. The Jamie Neverts Story may be a hit-or-miss affair vocally, but musically it is a stinging, melancholy tribute to a friend and a muse, both of whom were seriosly flawed but very much missed.