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.
Well here we have another Jimi Hendrix album of unreleased material from later in his career. This is literally what?The fifth,sixth time this has happened following his death? Yet at the same time there's a big difference between discussing the music on this album and merely having an opinion on it. This album comes from a very awkward period in Jimi's sadly short musical career. Most of these songs feature Noel Redding but here you also see the transition to Billy Cox (the liner notes explain what happened during that time) and interestingly enough,as the bassists change you also notice a difference in in the way Hendrix's rhythmic patterns work. By the way the versions of "Stone Free" and "Fire" here are not the heavily psychedelic versions as presented previously but rather very different,more concetrated versions of the song that have a more live in the studio type of flavor to them. In speaking of Hendrix's music Miles Davis often referred to what he called "hillbilly/country music" influences in the sound Jimi had when he was with the Experience and on the album closer you can definately here that country-blues style of playing in the bridge. Now if this album had come out in it's day it would've been the Experience's follow up to Electric Ladyland and therefore followed a somewhat harder groove centered sound on "Bleeding Heart","Mr.Bad Luck" and a great and largely instrumental take on "Sunshine Of Your Love" and these also make another point for the album. Aside from the very radio friendly title song none of the songs on this album really focus as much on songwriting as the development of Hendrix's guitar work and his rhythm section. So there's more musically said here than in the composition necessarily. So if you like Jimi's music as I do and want to hear some things you never heard from him before,this is a good place to go to get it. If you are just getting into him this would'nt be the place to start either. It is,as with any pothumous Hendrix volume designed for the fan and serious collector and that should be taken duely into note before you buy this.
on March 19, 2010
This is pressed on beautiful thick high quality audiophile vinyl. The sound quality is excellent. This is the way Hendrix should be heard. There's nothing like listening to a musician as good as Jimi Hendrix through a 100 watt amp and floor standing speakers. If all you do is listen to music on an Ipod or on your computer than your missing out on a world of quality audio. The only shortcoming here is that there's two excellent bonus tracks on the digital version that aren't included on the vinyl. I downloaded the digital version for my Ipod and listen to the vinyl at home. This is a welcome addition to the Hendrix catalog. Whatever version you choose this release is not to be missed.
on March 29, 2010
The other day I stood in a record store and listened as they played the new Hendrix release.
I paid special attention to the title track. There are two main impressions I got from it.
The first is that it is unfinished. If Hendrix lived long enough to release it, and chose to do so,the song would not sound like it does. Consider the period it was done: 1969. The influence of "Axis: Bold as Love" was still strong in his music. "Axis" was an important work in that Hendrix mastered the art of using the recording studio itself as a musical instrument. With "Valleys" he'd laid down a foundation; like a background in a painting. What was needed was the subject. The lyrics / singing formed only a part of this. What was needed were the melodic ornaments, the sonic arabesques Hendrix was so brilliant at. A good example would be "Castles Made of Sand" from "Axis". We have the rhythmic foundation (listen to the bass drum part: pure hip hop!), the lyrics / poetry, and then the guitar parts weaving in and around the other elements of the song. This later is what's missing from "Valleys" - and as it stands now, nobody can finish it. The only man capable of doing so is gone forever.
The second is the lyric. The first two verses are pure psychedelia. It may be interesting to dissect whatever symbolism can be cross referenced with arcane systems of knowledge. But as the song progresses, Hendrix starts speaking about what may be described as near-prophetic visions. Massive changes in the earth and in human society that are troublesome. What is really fascinating is that now, almost 40 years after Hendrix' death, these things are starting to happen in the world. It's rather like in another track from "Axis": "Up From the Skies." In that song, he spoke of being here "before the days of ice" - the ice age? - and returning to "find the stars misplaced and the smell of a world that had burned. Well maybe it's just a change of climate." And of course, now this is happening in the world. Could it be Hendrix was "tuned in" to something?
The saddest part of all this, the new releases, contemplation of Hendrix' biography, and the world we live in, is that few realize Hendrix' true historical significance. I often wonder who is / will pick up the gauntlet that Hendrix threw down when he died. Who will continue where he left off. Now, I don't mean the usual assortment of "Jimi Clones." I mean that all inclusive, transcendental approach to music. Hendrix showed us what could be done - and like the Buddhist admonishment, the finger pointed toward the moon; most people stare at the finger, and all that heavenly glory was missed.
The posthumous release "First Rays of the New Rising Sun" was probably among the best that came out. It was produced and engineered by Eddie Kramer; who was there with Hendrix when he recorded the tracks. And much of it was music Hendrix himself had approved. There were some others: Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge were marvelous. War Heros had a few moments. But most of it is just us picking through the scraps, trying to find hidden gems.
Of course, since Hendrix is now an historical figure, analysis of his music is useful. And he should be remembered. But sometimes I wonder if a better way to honor Hendrix would be to cultivate those musicians and artists (and whoever else may have been influenced by him: his impact cannot be confined to music alone) who will pick up where he left off, and take their work to the realms Hendrix pointed us toward. Once that is done, Hendrix may rest peacefully, knowing his life's work made a useful impact on humanity - even more so than we already enjoy.
on March 17, 2010
There are so many posthumous Hendrix recordings out there it borderlines on blasphemy. The novice Hendrix listener might not "experience" Jimi Hendrix for what he really was...one, if not the greatest, rock guitarists of all time. For those who are just getting into what Hendrix was about, this album is NOT for you. Grab "Are You Experienced", "Axis Bold As Love" and
Electric Ladyland". Trust me, those albums will BLOW YOUR MIND! "Valleys Of Neptune" however, is an album for the truly devoted Hendrix fan. What I like most about this album is it's rawness. It's like being in the studio with Hendrix while he's just having fun and jamming. And who wouldn't want to buy THAT ticket? The sound quality is superb, and the basic tracks haven't been ruined like some other posthumous releases, like on "Crash Landing" and "Midnight Lightning", where random studio musicians actually OVERDUBBED over the original tracks. (Alan Douglas...you should be ashamed of yourself.) On this album however, I'm glad this has been released, and I do not feel like it's a rip-off to make money. There is quality stuff here.
Track By Track:
1.) Stone Free - Basicly an alternate version of the original. I prefer the original, but this is a fun and interesting listen.
2.) Valleys Of Neptune - I'm not a fan of this song, and I doubt it would ever have been released on an actual Hendrix approved album. If so, it would have been MUCH more orchestrated, perhaps like 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) from Electric Ladyland. Still, it's great hearing Hendrix' in his writing process.
3.) Bleeding Heart - I LOVE THIS VERSION. It's the best studio version I've heard. The version from "War Heroes" just didn't have the bite and rawness that this classic blues tune deserves. Hendrix kicks into this version hard and heavy from the start. Fantastic guitar work here, and a great variation on the original vocal approach.
4.) Hear My Train A Comin' - Most Hendrix fans will tell you Hendrix' 12 string acoustic version is the best, and they would be correct...but this electric version is really nice also. I have a version from a live LP called "The Jimi Hendrix Concerts" that I feel is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but this is a great listen as well, and once again the guitar playing is other-worldly.
5.) Mr. Bad Luck - There was another version of this song called "Look Over Yonder". I'm not a fan of this song or either version. This is not Hendrix' best song writing by a long shot, but still...it's Jimi Hendrix on guitar.
6.) Sunshine Of Your Love - Hendrix was a major Clapton fan and he did this song instrumentally with The Experience many times live, and it was a staple of his live shows. It's finally nice to hear a studio jam of this song. It has become my favorite version, and the guitar playing is VERY NICE!
7.) Lover Man - Again, a song Hendrix performed live many times. This studio take is nothing short of amazing, and is a fresh approach to the song. Again, it has become my favorite version.
8.) Ships Passing In The Night - This is actually a slowed down bluesy version of "Night Bird Flying", but only a true Hendrix head would hear that. Again...this has become my favorite version of "Night Bird Flying". Why it's called "Ships Passing In The Night" on the album is beyond me. I'm hoping they didn't change the name to make it seem like a new song. It isn't, but it IS a totally different approach to the way "Night Bird Flying" was eventually released.
9.) Fire - Nice alternate version, and GREAT drumming, but the original is much better.
10.) Red House - I have a plethora of "Red House" live versions, and they all bring something unique to the table. This alternate studio version is very nice also, with some great blues licks of course, but with no real new surprises. The major problem with this version is that the final verse is faded out, without any "I know her sister will!" lyric at all. Highly anti-climatic to say the least.
11.) Lullaby For Summer - Once again I am baffled why this song is named "Lullaby For Summer" on this album. It's basicly a jam based off the opening riff to "Ezy Rider", with some very cool hook riffs thrown in the middle section. The thing is...IT ABSOLUTELY ROCKS! "Ezy Rider" was never one of my favorite Hendrix songs, but I am BLOWN AWAY by this instrumental jam version! I can't praise it enough.
12.) Crying Blue Rain - A VERY nice bluesy jam. I love the guitar tone. The only drawback with this track is that I believe it loses it's "blues mood" when the band speeds it up towards the end. But still...just wonderful guitar playing.
13.) Trash Man - This is actually the instrumental "Midnight" sped up just a bit. Great licks and a nice version...but the original has much more feel in my opinion.
14.) Slower Version - A nice instrumental jam. However, the sound quality doesn't seem to match the rest of the album, and the guitar tone seems very overdriven. Still, Hendrix' guitar playing shines brightly on this track.
There will probably be more posthumous releases to follow, but who knows if there will EVER be another Jimi Hendrix CD release of unreleased material as strong as this one. So to me, it's like Christmas came early. I hope this review helps in your decision to purchase this CD. If you already own the Hendrix classics, and you are like me and CRAVE to hear more, then I HIGHLY recommend you buy this album TODAY!
on March 9, 2010
The sound quality on these newly mixed 40 year old tapes is great. And Jimi absolutely RIPS on some of the tracks, which is one thing I never get tired of hearing. "Mr. Bad Luck" sounds very out of place on this CD and should've been given a miss. Also on other tracks some heavy editing has taken place, including dropping in background vocals and guitar solos from other Hendrix recordings (Stone Free). However this was probably largely unavoidable in order to bring us this much 'new' Hendrix which overall sounds fantastic both in terms of the band's performances and the audio fidelity. It's not hard to second-guess some of the choices made on this release but it's still an exciting and enjoyable release...
on April 6, 2010
An excellent compilation from the legendary Jimi Hendrix, and a compilation it is, containing mostly unreleased unfinished demos and tracks. The recording does include interesting and different versions of "Fire" and "Stone Free". Hendrix then rips the intro on "Bleeding Heart" like his hero, the extraordinaire slide guitarist Elmore James. The surprise track on here is Cream's, "Sunshine Of Your Love", the tune escapes into a whirlwind, done so in the traditional Hendrix fashion. Jimi Hendrix played the guitar so hard and ferocious, almost like a rapid fire machine gun, using his instrument like a technician or a potent weapon. Let's not forget the singing power of Jimi, probably underrated, Hendrix sang with intense clarity. One reviewer said of Hendrix, musicians nowadays have long surpassed his talents, there's one thing seriously wrong with that statement, Jimi Hendrix played from the heart and soul, and comparing to nowadays music mainstream that's known as a dying breed. "Valleys Of Neptune" supposedly the most rare sought out after Jimi Hendrix song is finally released, an excellent song, made perfectly for the legend. I've read a few negative reviews on this release, the one and only negative reason for me was the recording is advertised as a never before released brand new Hendrix album, these twelve recordings, 1969, are supposedly the intended sequel to "Electric Ladyland", and if they are, these songs are unfinished demos made into a compilation, actually this is one of the better Jimi Hendrix compilations I've heard, the reason I have to rate this four stars, minus one for the questionable advertising, anything for a buck. Remember, this is Jimi Hendrix, any opportunity to hear the man is golden, the Sony audio is superior.
on April 26, 2014
These tracks I dont think should have, and were not released, as JIMI new, they were not at the top, but, being that we are not with him, anymore, anything JIMI is a welcome insight into his world, I liked this album, for what it is, unheard tracks of a legend. Go buy it.
on March 23, 2010
When an innovative artist dies before he or she has worn out their welcome, material that could only be released over their dead body is issued by their record company or estate (or both). And yes, it's about commerce.
Elvis Presley's concerts, outtakes, rehearsals and just plain noodlings have provided grist for multiple box sets. All of Charlie Parker's recorded solos -- often snippets only a few seconds long -- have been given the deluxe treatment. In the cases of Hank Williams and Buddy Holly, voice-and-guitar demos were overdubbed in an attempt to create a viable commercial product. Some listeners loved these ersatz versions, while other clamored for the unadulterated source material, which was eventually released with great fanfare.
Jimi Hendrix was no exception. In the years immediately following his death, there was a glut of Hendrix albums in the racks: unreleased studio tracks, concerts, jams, soundtracks, demos, sessions he played on as a sideman, compilations, and -- ultimately -- overdubbed versions of unfinished songs. Much of it was considered to be crap. "Hendrix never intended to release this!" has been a common assessment of his posthumous releases for decades. True enough, but he probably didn't intend to die young, either, and death redefines everything. Had he lived, his set at Woodstock wouldn't be any more relevant today than that of the Grateful Dead, and the contents of "Valleys of Neptune" would have never seen the light of day -- not in this form and not in their 1970s incarnation, either.
But Hendrix isn't here to finish these tracks, and nobody is qualified to do it for him. Experience Hendrix deserves some credit for trying to make some semblance of sense out of Jimi's catalogue, and for issuing this material pretty much the way he left it -- with good sound and at an affordable price. No, it's not a great album. It's not an album at all. It's 80 minutes of jams, backing tracks, and different versions of familiar songs. Taking it to a party won't make you popular. Its target demographic is those of us who hang on to every note Hendrix played and who care about bass runs and drum rolls. From that perspective, it's pretty interesting. Call it a nicely done official bootleg of odds and ends, if you will. It's all we're going to get. Jimi has left the building.
If you approach this as a new Hendrix album, you will likely find yourself pretty disappointed. "Valleys of Neptune" is a fine track that hasn't seen much of a release in the past (it did show up in different form on the "Lifelines" box 20 years ago), but everything else here is either a remake ("Stone Free," "Fire"), a studio recording of a live staple (the extended "Red House," "Hear My Train A Comin'"), or an instrumental take that probably needed some more work for an album release. With the right expectations, though, this is a fine release. I listen to this as if someone handed me a really great rehearsal/jam session tape of the Experience shortly before they broke up, which is when these recordings date from. There are few overdubs, and several guest musicians (including Hendrix's fine later day bass player Billy Cox) to fit that framework. The track sequencing even helps to support that idea. We start with Hendrix excitingly trying out his new arrangement of "Stone Free." After another new song and a few blues jams, the band kicks into a fired-up, instrumental take of "Sunshine of Your Love" for what seems like no other reason other than it's fun. Later they sort of flub an embryonic take of "Night Bird Flying" ("Ships Passing Through the Night"), and as bands are ought to do while rehearsing, redeem their self-esteem by ripping through an older song that they've played incessantly live and know by heart ("Fire"). The rest of the album sort of drifts into an aimless jamming vibe (especially if you have the Target CD with two extra, instrumental tracks) before calling it a day. Fortunately for the listener, Hendrix jamming, even aimlessly, is pretty dang impressive. Mitch Mitchell comes across quite well here too. He seems to be trying everything on the drums, and 95% of it works out great.
No, this doesn't work as a proper album, but it is one of the best "official" bootlegs that you're likely to find. While this is not on the scale of Hendrix's proper three Experience albums, it is a very intimate, human collection of recordings, and is far better than the doctored posthumous albums clogging up Hendrix's discography (I'm looking at you "War Heroes," "Crash Landing" and "Voodoo Soup," although "First Rays of the New Rising Sun" is welcome to hang out with the Experience albums) and flows better than past outtake compilations like "South Saturn Delta."