Album Review

Hendrix, Jimi – “Valleys of Neptune” – [Legacy]

ArtCrimes   3/16/2010   B Library, CD

The Jimi Hendrix catalog has moved again, this time to Sony’s reissue label, Legacy. The first batch of reissues have no audio additions over and beyond the previous remasterings from several years ago (although they do have documentary DVDs added), but the one truly brand new title, “Valleys of Neptune,” is all unreleased takes and remakes from various sessions (mostly in 1969) with performances by the original Hendrix Experience, the “new” Experience with Billy Cox replacing Noel Redding, and members of the short-lived Gypsy Sun & Rainbows group that rehearsed in Woodstock with Mitchell, Cox, and others. This is not a “lost” album, but rather a collection of orphaned tracks recorded during a period when Hendrix was broadening his palette, trying different songwriting and studio approaches with different sidemen. Several tracks here were new versions of older songs, some of which had been first recorded and performed years before with the original Experience group (“Stone Free,” “Red House,” “Fire”). A few tracks make their official debut here, studio efforts that weren’t actually finished during Jimi’s lifetime, such as “Valleys of Neptune” and “Ships Passing Through the Night.” Some of the tracks sound a little modern for ears used to the noisier, rougher sound of Jimi’s original recordings from the 1960s, and there are a few overdubs done in the 1980s by Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, thus “reuniting” the original Experience many years after Jimi’s passing. A lot of this music was never intended for the public (rehearsals, demos, rough mixes), and this won’t widen Jimi’s audience much, but it does offer insights into how he viewed the studio as an instrument, one just as important as his guitar. (( crimes ))

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