"Hendrix" – Valleys of Neptune – Jimi Hendrix, guitar; Noel Redding, bass; Billy Cox, bass; Mitch Mitchell, drums;Rocky Isaac, drums – Sony Legacy

by | Mar 13, 2010 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

"Hendrix" – Valleys of Neptune – Jimi Hendrix, guitar; Noel Redding, bass; Billy Cox, bass; Mitch Mitchell, drums; Rocky Isaac, drums – Sony Legacy, 62 minutes ****1/2:

The new Jimi Hendrix album—I’ve never written those words before—is probably the best of his posthumous releases. It contains twelve tracks of never-before-released tunes and alternate takes on previously-released material. The music has the feel of completion, far more so than his other posthumous albums like Cry of Love, War Heroes, and Loose Ends.

I heard one cut live in November of 1968 and later wondered why it had never made it onto an album: Sunshine of Your Love. It’s an instrumental version of Cream’s best-selling song. The first thing you notice is the faster tempo; the second of course is Hendrix’s phenomenal guitar work. How he handles the piece differently from Eric Clapton is best summarized by Franz Joseph Haydn’s quote on W.A. Mozart: “People say I have genius, but Mozart stood miles above me.” After a minute, the piece slips into a rhythm guitar riff that charms with its subtly variations, then erupts into untethered virtuosity. Hendrix’s jaw-dropping musicianship reminds me of his guitar work in All Along the Watchtower.

Ships Passing Through the Night has also never been released before. The lyrics are nothing extraordinary, but the solo guitar riffs may send you back to the days of Electric Ladyland. Clocking at 5:52 it’s one of the longer cuts on the album and features wild perambulations. The title piece, Valleys of Neptune, melodic and furiously inventive yet still ragged, has never appeared in this full band version. Bleeding Heart differs from the version on War Heroes and contains solo guitar work and tight playing that should amaze anyone. Contained wildness. The longest track, Hear my Train A Comin, is the only full-band version of this 12-string acoustic song (from Jimi Hendrix:Blues). Blues is right. He even scats while playing. Listen close to the last minute, when the tempo mysteriously slows, the volume drops to a whisper, then bang! There’s a final shout and a stinging guitar coda. Another blues tune, Red House, contains expanded arrangements and shows that Hendrix had not only been listening to B.B. King, but had actually surpassed him. Like the recently released At Carnegie Hall (Thelonious Monk quartet) and My Dusty Road (Woody Guthrie), Valleys of Neptune is a welcome visit from beyond the grave. Who knows how many more are out there lurking in dusky catacombs?


  1. Stone Free
  2. Valleys of Neptune
  3. Bleeding Heart
  4. Hear My Train A Comin’
  5. Mr. Bad Luck
  6. Sunshine Of Your Love
  7. Lover Man
  8. Ships Passing Through The Night
  9. Fire
10. Red House
11. Lullaby For The Summer
12. Crying Blue Rain

— Peter Bates

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