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CD Review: Jimi Hendrix's Valleys of Neptune



The Deal: Another posthumous release from the guitar legend includes 12 previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1969 with the original Hendrix Experience lineup – Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.

The Good: While you may think, judging by the song titles, you've heard most of these songs before, that's simply not the case. The album kicks off with one of Hendrix's signature tunes, "Stone Free," but the arrangement here is quite different. Between the harmonized chorus, the different rhythm and cadence to the lyrics and the shredding guitar solo, it's not the song you're familiar with. Next up is the hotly anticipated title track – such ease in the riffs and strumming with Hendrix's smooth blues-rock vocals over the top. It's difficult to listen to the playing of Hendrix and not be impressed by his talents. Hendrix himself admitted that he wasn't the best singer, but he had so much personality in his vocals that sound like the perfect tone against the lightning-in-a-bottle guitar playing. When he unleashes the wah pedal right before the solo of the six-and-a-half-minute "Bleeding Heart," it's jaw-dropping as it transforms into a psychedelic journey. There's an extended, bluesy intro for "Red House," and he tackles "Sunshine of Your Love" with ease, putting emotion behind every note on the instrumental version.

The Bad: Though most of these tracks were being worked on for his planned fourth studio album, we'll never know if he viewed these as complete or not. How many versions of "Fire" are there? New albums should keep to the new stuff, but it's not easy when someone with so much music only actually released three albums before his death.

The Verdict: See "The Bad" above, but note that most fans will take anything "new" anytime they can get their hands on it. It's more music from a genius who died too soon. Sit back, and listen intently to his playful work.

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