By Bo Fisher
In a time when the radio is dominated by pop divas and aspiring rock talent continues to disappear, it is always pleasant to see Jimi Hendrix’s name grace Rolling Stone’s top 10 albums chart at number seven. Fourty years after his death, Jimi Hendrix is still producing songs with five-minute-long solos that gyrate the bodies and minds of his listeners. After listening to the posthumously produced album Valleys of Neptune, which was released March 9, you will be reminded why Hendrix has been in a league of his own when it comes to electrifying people with his music for much of the past 50 years.
The album consists mainly of studio recordings produced in 1969 at London’s Olympic Studios. The studio recordings had been set aside for many years until they were recently brought to the public’s attention by Janie Hendrix and Eddie Kramer, who were Hendrix’s stepsister and personal audio engineer, respectively.
Aside from the brand new tracks, the album is sprinkled with a few previously-released hits including CREAM’s original “Sunshine of Your Love.” Hendrix’s polished remake of the classic stands out among all other tracks on the album, not only in the fiery guitar jams, but also its rhythm and organization. Instead of following CREAM’s path, Hendrix tosses the lyrics aside and embarks on a seven-minute guitar solo joy ride, speeding up the beat and then easing it down in the middle. Hendrix takes on the song with energy and electricity, making it his own. In the end, it rises above the original version.
“Red House,” another familiar tune, gives off a bluesy, soul tone with vibrating guitar riffs from beginning to end. Hendrix’s guitar drones along throughout the track with his band members, carelessly, playing just to play. Feeling more like a demo being played solely for the fun of it, Hendrix toys with his guitar and puts on yet another show that is just enough to satisfy his listeners.
Aside from the five previously released tracks appearing on the album, listeners will remember few songs after hearing them for the first time. Unfortunately, many new tracks on the album fail to give off the genius from Hendrix’s guitar that is expected from him.
If not for the famous tracks such as “Sunshine of your Love” and “Red House,” which showcase Hendrix’s talent, the album would have difficulty standing out among other Hendrix albums. Though the album as a whole lacks the color and flash that Hendrix usually projects, the sheer excitement of long lost Hendrix tracks is worth any praise it receives.