Thursday, March 11, 2010


"Hear My Train a Coming" on a 12-string acoustic guitar

Jimi Hendrix has a new record. You heard right. Valley of Neptune was released March 9th, 2010--some forty years after the artist's death. This isn't the first time old recordings have surfaced--some hastily packaged jobs were terrible, filled with unfinished studio jams and overdubs, but some unreleased recordings were truly revelatory, such as the 1997 set, First Rays of the New Rising Sun. The Hendrix fan has a right to be wary of "new" material, but from what we've heard, the new music is well worth hearing. Hendrix lives.

Valleys of Neptune is drawn from two recording sessions in 1969, immediately following the recording of Electric Ladyland (a double album that included such masterpieces as "Voodoo Chile" and "All Along the Watchtower"). Hendrix plays brilliantly, passing through funk and jazz and of course the blues. There is a studio version of "Hear My Train a-Coming," a favorite blues song we present here in two versions: a beautiful acoustic rendition on a 12-string guitar, and a killer live version from a concert on Maui in 1970 (released in the concert film "Rainbow Bridge").

Some people may wonder why Hendrix is still revered so long after his death--people born too late may think of him more as a T-shirt image, a psychedelic space gypsy flying his freak flag, a 60s icon long past taking seriously--but listening to his music sets the record straight. Always exploring, always seeking, a spiritual man in the sense of John Coltrane, he believed in his music and pushed it to the limit. If he'd lived, who knows where he'd be? Forty years after his death, this slight troubadour from Seattle left a trail of recordings that serve as a journal of his long, strange trip from Garfield High to the planet Neptune. Somehow, Jimi's still ahead of his time.

"Hear My Train a Coming," electric, Jimi Hendrix on Maui, 1970

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