It was fitting that the headliner for the Black Rock Coalition's 6th Annual Jimi Hendrix Birthday Love-In at the Club Lingerie Wednesday was Arthur Lee & Love. L.A's leading psychedelic black rocker of the late '60s, Lee's star has been rising again through a tribute album and cover versions that span the spectrum from moodmeisters Mazzy Star to proto-punks the Ramones.
But Lee's hourlong headlining set before a half-filled house only caught fire sporadically, in large part due to his decision to pay homage to his friend Hendrix. Fueled by the twin guitars of Michael Randle and Melvin Whittington, the early part of the set rocked hard, but it fell apart during a ragged, under-rehearsed segment of Hendrix tunes that started promisingly enough with "Ezy Rider" blended with Lee's "Tripping and Slipping."
Pacing was a problem, though--Lee seemed lost onstage during the gaps between each song--but, once the music started, he came alive with the natural charisma that first hooked fans 30 years ago. "Seven and Seven Is" remains one of the great power surge rock songs, and some new material (Lee has an album on a German label and is actively looking for a deal here) indicated he's lost little of his songwriting ability.
Second-billed Civil Rite's knack for haunting melodic hooks and vocal blends on their opening song was largely swamped under expertly delivered speed/crunch metal in the rest of the set. Also appearing was Randy Wilde & Gypse with a brief set of Hendrix songs and Jason Luckett.