CARON WHEELER / “The Wind Cries Mary”

I know that earth has had enough of the perpetual rape, environmental poisoning, violations of the universal law. When will this cease? When we humans return to our respect for the earth and each other. When we Afrikans are no longer afraid to bask in our own godly earthly glory and return to our way, our lips, our noses, our hair, our blakness! —Caron Wheeler
Well, there are covers and then there are covers!!! I mean versions so hip, regardless of the fame of the original, the cover achieves a glory all it’s own. As far as I am concerned, Caron Wheeler's cover of Jimi Hendrix' "The Wind Cries Mary"is near the tip of Caron’s artistic achievements. caron_wheeler.gif Caron deservedly came to fame as one of the lead voices of Soul II Soul. She’s made two solo albums; “The Wind Cries Mary” is from the second of the two and it’s both gorgeous and infuriating. I immediately wanted to know how it was mixed. It sounds like they sampled Jimi Hendrix talking and seamlessly mixed Hendrix himself playing his famous song into the cover version. It’s done so artfully that the Hendrix samples are part of the cover, but the cover also has a sound of it’s own, sounding unlike anything Jimi did. But, we’re constantly hearing Jimi, with Caron wailing atop the mélange. Talk about a ménage a trois! Caron has the pipes to pull it off, Jimi’s famous mumble offers a sly counterpoint, and then there is the modern production. Got to give the sister a shout out to be this audacious. I would love to see her do a whole album of covers, but it’s been over a decade since she has had a release. Heaven forbid she stops recording, but even if nothing else drops, she has made her impact. —Kalamu ya Salaam Click here to purchase Beach of the War Goddess             Incredible voice/spiritual vibes          I agree, this is a good remake. I've owned Beach of the War Goddess a couple of times — once when it first came out (I probably traded it in or something) then again a few months ago when Mama asked me to find it for her online. (I got it for three or four bucks, shipping included.) My second reaction was the same as my first: incredible voice and positive, spiritual vibes, but way overdone late '80s/early '90's-style production. I guess I was so caught up it hating the slickness of the production that I missed this song. JIMI-HENDRIX-1NYC-th.jpg One other thing — the way Caron & Co. mixed samples of Jimi with clips of him talking with their own new production reminded me of another record I like: "Happiness On The Wind" by an outfit calling themselves Beautiful People. "Happiness" is a mash-up of Jimi's vocals from "The Wind Cries Mary" with his vocals from "Belly Button Window" with Jimi speaking about his music all set to new production (a re-done rhythm track, primarily). Beautiful People did an entire album of Hendrix covers/samples/reworks called If 60s Were 90s. The album isn’t very good as a whole—if I had to sum it up in one word, I’d called it ‘gimmicky’—but the Hendrix fanatics out there might want to track it down. —Mtume ya Salaam

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8 Responses to “CARON WHEELER / “The Wind Cries Mary””

Stephanie Renee Says:
July 31st, 2005 at 11:24 am

Maybe we can all start sending our prayers to the heavens that instead of Meshell NdegeOcello using Caron as just a background vocalist, she’ll decided to produce a whole new full-length project with/for her. Now THAT would be hot!

Castro (Jason) Says:
August 1st, 2005 at 10:33 am

Here is what I love about Beach of the War Goddess- THE READING LIST IN THE LINER NOTES!!!!!! Homegirl was reading, or had access to some heavy books, like 2000 Seasons, Chancellor Williams, and some other stuff I can’t recall right now. That in and of itself was tight- it was like picking up a food package and finding that it doesn’t contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (finding this is rare these days). I have always felt she never received the acclaim that was her due, as she (and Omar) laid the way for the wave of (*cringe*) neo-soul artists that began to arrive in the 90’s. I think Caron’s first solo effort is far superior to this album, but I did like this track and the heavily played ‘I Adore You’. The rest of the album was pedestrian British R & B…stuff that Caron’s voice far outshined (and to me unfortunately seems to be the sum total of Mica Paris’s output).

I keep hearing that she actually finished two albums in Atlanta, but nothing has come of it. I don’t know what she is waiting for, because we could certainly benefit from hearing her voice and powerful lyrics over the airwaves today….

Kalamu Says:
August 2nd, 2005 at 9:17 am


caron is not “waiting” on anything except, maybe, for the industry to give her a break. a lot of times people on the street assume that an artist doesn’t have a release because they don’t want to, well, unless they are a mega-selling artist, usually they want to but the record company doesn’t—either doesn’t want to release anything “new” by the artist because they don’t think it will sell or they don’t want to release anything “old” by the artist because they don’t think it will sell. in other words, the major question for the industry is: but, will it sell?

last info i had was that caron had a japanese produced dvd that was about to drop. we’ll see.

meanwhile, i agree with you about the reading list. when an artist starts paying more attention to what info she puts in her head rather than to what make up and hair stylings she puts on her head, said artist has usually traveled deep into the industry danger zone. they may just be punishing her for thinking while recording.

AumRa Frezel Says:
August 3rd, 2005 at 1:09 pm

Will Calhoun got straight beastified on the drums. Will put that shit down like it was hot. I remember him when he was rockin the house band on the Letterman show. Though I tend not to be a fan of keyboard bass it works here. I can’t tell if it’s because the moog bass is coupled with an actual electric bass or what but this is a hip arrangement. One of my pet peeves with most of the Hendrix recordings was the way the bass was low in the mix. This is right! I gotta give Derek Johnson dap on this; the production on this cut as well as the entire War Goddess recording is top notch. Caron Wheeler is definitely a voice I would love to hear more. This sister has chops out the yin yang. Even though she can take over whenever she wants, I love the way she sings with the band; her voice floats on top of the track like a butterfly over a field of wildflowers. Caron is like another instrument on this track. This is already a great song, hellafied lyrics and bad-assed arrangement, Caron played her part well. Great cover.

The Wind Cries Mary reminds me of the Miles Davis composition, Miles Runs the Voodoo Down. I often think about what could’ve been if the two ever hooked up like Miles wanted. Damn!


okyeame Says:
August 3rd, 2005 at 2:43 pm

I was introduced to this cd by a sister — revolutionary in her thinking for the post-civil rights, post-black power, post-black is beautiful, greed is good, suburb aspiring generation, that is, generation x or the so-called hip-hop generation, as defined, timewise at least, by bikari kitwana — named deniese beal, while i was a student at xavier university in louisiana. my younger brother, sundiata, and myself, listened to it constantly, and intently, being moved as much by some of the album’s danceable grooves as by caron wheeler’s spiritually centered, black praise-songs. we were predisposed to her lyrics and her delivery because of the soul II soul records. if i remember correctly, and i could be wrong since i haven’t done investigative research on this, caron wheeler’s album dropped around the time, within a few years or so, of the decline of political rap — public enemy, x clan, paris, and so forth — and the emergence of more hardcore, pimp influenced rap like nwa, ghetto boys, too short and so forth. so, caron wheeler’s album was, like meshelle ndegecello’s “plantation lullabies”, though in a different way, a breath of fresh air, or should i say a sound of fresh songs. recently, within the past few months, i re-bought this album. but i wasn’t moved the same. i think the brother mtume’s comments hit it on the head: you can get diverted by the 80’s early 90’s style production and miss the significance and joy of her vocals and her lyrics. Nonetheless, remembrances of when i first heard this album, and caron wheeler’s clarion call for a spiritual celebration of blackness, in its most profound, earth-loving, life-giving, culture sustaining, sense, brings back fond memories, and inspires optimism that so long as we can continue to keep the music alive and the dialogue fresh, as kalamu and his brood are doing, there is the possibility of reclaiming the moral fruit and historical consciousness of africa’s earlier periods of spiritual and technical englightment, as cogently articulated in cheikh anta diop’s “the african orgin of civilization.” thanks. power to the peaceful. okyeame

Nandi Says:
August 25th, 2005 at 11:29 pm

I have searched for years, a website that is dedicated to the sista with the warm voice and soulful tones. I am overjoyed! Caron is probably the most underrated artist in the States. I live in Indiana and I have ‘adored’ Caron since high school. Caron was the inspiration for my written songs and Beach of the War Goddess is a timeless album. I admire her and hope to hear more from her in the future. 

1luv, Nandi

Ryan McNutly Says:
April 11th, 2006 at 4:44 pm


DJ Karen Adams Says:
August 11th, 2010 at 4:00 am

I loved Wheeler singing lead on “Back To Life” and “Keep On Movin'” for Soul II Soul but her solo releases touches me most.

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