Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Jimi Hendrix, Valleys of Neptune

There has been no end to the posthumous releases of Jimi Hendrix material since he died in 1970.  Some of it has been good; some of it has been nothing more than a blatant attempt to cash on on Hendrix’ s great fame and extraordinary talent with the release of crappy recordings of studio noodling.  Valleys of Neptune is something different.  The album is built around the last recordings Hendrix made with the original members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience Noel Redding (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums).  Much of the album was recorded in 1969 after the release of Electric Ladyland.  Hendrix was flying high and it looked like there was no end to what he could achieve.

With the exception of “Mr. Bad Luck” which was recorded in 1967  all of the tracks on Valleys of Neptune were recorded in 1969.  Hendrix, Redding and Mitchell play together on nine of the album’s twelve cuts.  Redding and Mitchell rerecorded their bass and drum parts in 1987 on 3 of the tracks, “Mr. Bad Luck”, “Lover Man”, and “Crying Blue Rain”.  Billy Cox, Hendrix’s old friend who replaced Redding when the tension between Hendrix and Redding reached the breaking point plays on three tracks, a hot rendition of “Stone Free”, “Bleeding Heart” and the title track.

Hendrix on a bad day is better than most other guitarists at their peak so it will come as no surprise that his playing throughout Valleys of Neptune is terrific.  The blues based numbers “Hear My Train A Comin'”, “Lover Man” and “Red House” are outstanding.  Redding and Mitchel’s overdubs laid down almost 20 years after the original recordings are nicely mixed with Hendrix vocals and guitar so that they don’t appear out of place or intrusive.  There’s not a bad cut on the CD and it is very nicely produced.

Ever since I had the great good fortune to see Jimi Hendrix and the original Experience live in what were almost perfect circumstances I’ve been at least quietly disappointed by his released recordings and Valleys of Neptune is no exception.  This is a foolish reaction as neither a studio nor a live recording could possibly capture what is was like to be in the room with Hendrix when he was in full flight.  If you are a Hendrix fan Valleys of Neptune is a must-buy and you probably already have it.  If you have any interest in Hendrix’s music and you don’t have Valleys of Neptune, check it out.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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03/23/2010 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , ,

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