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Music Review: Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune

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Jimi Hendrix released his third and what would turn out to be his final studio album, Electric Ladyland, nearly two full years before his untimely death on September 18, 1970. It's worth noting, though, that his remaining time on the mortal plane wasn't downtime by any means.

While maintaining a fractured relationship with the Experience, he formed the Band of Gypsies with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, toured the world over (issuing a live LP in the process), played at both Woodstock ('69) and the Isle of Wight ('70) and, perhaps most impressive of all, recorded a staggering accumulation of music.

Bits and chunks of that stockpile have surfaced over the years, circulating in assorted variations with inconsistent, often substandard quality. On the material culled for the recent release of Valleys of Neptune, however, the result suits the caliber of its creator. That's not to say its production is flawless, though, as audio flubs sometimes crop up, but the performances in this case overwhelmingly transcend any incidental glitch or static buzz.

Still it's hard to quibble over such technicalities once that familiar and blissfully distorted, erogenous guitar surges out of the past with the immediacy of here and now. Loaded with heavy riffs and rhythms, be it on the wanton, swaggering groove of "Ships Passing Through The Night" or in the urgent electric blues that barnstorm through "Hear My Train A Comin'" and a devastating cover of Elmore James' "Bleeding Heart," Hendrix coaxes these songs to his indulgent desire.

These are but a few examples, but they are indicative of the album as a whole. Valleys of Neptune is a potent concoction, and although it likely won't redefine the context of his talent nor his creative potential had he lived longer, it presents Jimi Hendrix in a way that respects his artistic integrity and serves his legend remarkably well.

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About Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson is the publisher of www.writeonmusic.com and a freelance music journalist whose byline has appeared in such publications as No Depression, Spinner, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Cinema Sentries, Blinded by Sound, and Blogcritics, where he was the Senior Music Editor (2011-2012) and Assistant Music Editor (2008-2011). He has interviewed and profiled such artists as Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Marr, Charli XCX, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Susanna Hoffs, Bruce Hornsby, Delbert McClinton, Jonny Lang, Alan Parsons, Bill Frisell, Rickie Lee Jones, Christina Perri, Don Felder (The Eagles), Jimmy Webb, Katie Melua, and Buddy Guy, among many others.
  • you know, i wasn’t going to get this…and then i listened to some stuff on youtube and hmmm…think i’ve gotta flip-flop.

  • Gunnar Wiskoff

    “Ships Passing Through The Night” sounds a lot like “Night Bird Flying” from “First Rays Of The New Morning Sun”. Still, it’s a great tune and a most excellent CD.