Australian talent Jay Howie shredded up “All Along the Watchtower” like Jimi Hendrix, adding his own flavour by rocking it out on acoustic. Now before Dylan fans eat me alive, of course the song was originally written by the one and only Bob Dylan. But it’s hard to deny that Howie’s hard-edge blues take on the song was much more inspired by Hendrix’s version than the original Dylan recording.
Howie also takes up the mic on the cover, adding his gritty and distinctive voice to the performance. The only other accompaniment is a bass drum loop and an acoustic backing, while the Aussie bluesman shreds the lead parts to perfection, adding plenty of his own style to it. You can hear the cover below, which has attracted almost 5.7 million views on YouTube.
As Howie explains, his channel mostly features old blues songs and the Aussie performer is largely influenced by “old delta blues players, the Chicago blues scene and British blues of the late ’60s and ’70s.” Howie’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” is his most popular release so far, but his covers of Hendrix, Prince and The Allman Brothers Band have also reached hundreds of thousands of views each.
Howie’s version of Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece “Little Wing” is one of the most popular videos. The song is known for its famously intricate guitar part which blends lead and rhythm playing seamlessly. The Australian guitarist changes gears for this cover, as you can hear below, and shows off a more delicate side to his playing and singing.
Howie has uploaded two full-length albums and an EP as well as extensively performing on tour and at festivals throughout Australia, most frequently in Victorian town Bendigo. The Aussie guitarist also has impeccable taste in blues music, as seen by his choice of “All Along the Watchtower”. The song was originally featured on Bob Dylan’s 1967 album John Wesley Harding and is frequently included in collections of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits. It’s also Dylan’s most frequently performed song in concert.
“All Along the Watchtower” has been covered by various artists, but the Jimi Hendrix version is arguably better known than even the original Dylan recording. The Jimi Hendrix Experience featured the song on their third studio album Electric Ladyland in 1968. It subsequently became Hendrix’s best known song, and currently has 625 million streams on Spotify – more than double the figure for his second most streamed song, “Purple Haze”, at 306 million streams.
Dylan’s original folk rock arrangement is led by acoustic guitar and the songwriter’s harmonica solos. The Jimi Hendrix Experience really kicks the song up a notch though, with bombastic drumming by legendary fusion drummer Mitch Mitchell and fiery guitar leads from Hendrix. The late guitarist was also a tremendous singer and his dynamic vocal performance really lends a lot of weight and power to the song. If you would like to see more from Jay Howie, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Facebook.