Saturday, 20 March 2010

Jimi Hendrix : Valleys of Neptune

Another posthumous Hendrix album Valleys of Neptune is out now. You can hear clips and so forth and a podcast at the Experience Hendrix website.
This is an album of hitherto unreleased studio recordings mostly featuring the original Experience line-up dating from 1967 and early 1969. If you are already a Hendrix fan, you'll love it. If you are new to Hendrix, start with 'Are You Experienced', 'Axis Bold as Love', and 'Electric Ladyland' in that order. Then buy this one. It kind of indicates where Jimi was going and leads up to First Rays of The New Rising Sun which was posthumously assembled from tracks previously released (i.e Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge which are no longer available). So, for newbies, those are the five albums to get.
There are twelve tracks all previously unreleased; six are alternative versions of previous stuff and six are 'new' songs, although fans will notice bits of the new stuff also surface in other songs elsewhere in Jimi's output. The point being that these were essentially demos which Hendrix intended to do a lot more work on. But then many of Jimi's demos are better than take 74 by other people.
Two things hit you straight away - the guitar playing is full of energy, vitality, creativity and originality and Mitch Mitchell was the perfect drummer for Hendrix. Some of the alternative versions are very different e.g. 'Bleeding Heart' and 'Stone Free' and the 'new' songs show signs of how much more there was to come from Hendrix had he and others not allowed himself to die (but that's another story). The introductory riff from 'Ships passing Through the Night' is terrific; he used the melody line later on 'Night Bird Flying'. 'Lullaby for the Summer' foreshadows 'Izabella'. 'Crying Blue Rain' is an an unfinished backing track. 'Valleys of Neptune' is just about complete although I guess Hendrix would have added further lead guitar fills and some backing vocals. 'Mr Bad Luck' was re-worked as 'Look Over Yonder'.
Full marks to the Hendrix estate for putting this together and to Eddie Kramer for engineering and mixing so well.

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