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ALTRUISTIC RELEASE OR MONEY MAKING VENTURE? STILL SOME GOOD HENDRIX
on March 9, 2010
61 minutes (unless you purchased the edition with extra tracks) in length approximately. The sound is good,especially considering these tracks were recorded with,possibly,no immediate thought of release. The disc snaps in inside the fold-out cardboard holder. The additional info (who plays what and when recorded) and color and b&w photos in the enclosed 22 page booklet are well done and nice to have,especially for the price. The entire background story of all the tracks (except the 2 "bonus" tracks) is laid out pretty well. Speaking of that,there is an edition out there with 2 extra tracks-"Slow Version",and "Trash Man",both instrumentals (more likely unfinished backing tracks) from 1969 available through Target. The tracks are similar to the regular set available everywhere,but for the same money listeners get 12 or so extra minutes of Hendrix,but if you've already purchased the regular edition-don't fret,you're not missing a whole lot. There's information on these two tracks in the "snap-in" portion (behind the CD) of the cardboard holder.
Well,here it is,the "new" Jimi Hendrix album. It consists of tracks,mostly recorded in 1969,put together by the Hendrix family. In that respect it's much like "First Rays of the New Rising Sun",or "South Saturn Delta". And while the tracks are previously unreleased,a number of titles will be familiar to Hendrix listeners. And,while having another look into the musical world of Jimi Hendrix can still be an exciting thing,somehow this release (along with several other re-releases of original period albums-now with a DVD included,and all at a new low price) feels much like a purely money-making venture. Maybe it's to advertise the partnership with Sony Music. Maybe it's to introduce some of his finest albums to a younger generation. Maybe it's both. And I say this from the perspective of someone who's lucky (and old) enough to have first heard Hendrix on vinyl. Who witnessed Hendrix live,both at the Fillmore,and in my home town (parts of "Hendrix In The West" supposedly),and came away astounded. So Hendrix listeners will have to decide whats worth purchasing-again.
This album does contain some good music,even familiar tracks ("Stone Free","Sunshine of Your Love","Red House"-even though the fadeout is irritating) have something to offer the long time (like me) Hendrix listener. And to finally have an officially released version of "Valleys of Neptune" is indeed nice. As for "Mr. Bad Luck", "Lullaby For The Summer",and "Crying Blue Rain",listeners will have to make up their own minds if these tracks (among others) should have been released. And (again like me) long time listeners will have a list of tracks that could have been released in place of some of these tracks. Maybe in the future-we can only hope. But overall,the genius of Hendrix is woven throughout this set,and like most long time listeners,the more Hendrix (up to a point) the better-because we have only a few chances,here and there,to listen to any musical genius at work. And the price (again,low to entice buyers) does make this set attractive.
So,is this album worth purchasing? Absolutely. The "finished"/unfinished tracks all have their strengths and weaknesses. In that respect it's similar to other posthumously released studio tracks-an aural insight into the music of Jimi Hendrix. It's a working snapshot of songs,over a period of time,that Hendrix might have released sometime in the future. But it's not the album to reach for when you want to hear the real-deal musical statements of a genius. For the real Jimi Hendrix "experience",the albums he released in his lifetime are still the best.