20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Jimi Hendrix’s Valleys of Neptune by gjfitton

Jimi Hendrix's 11th posthumous release maintains his legendary status

PREVIEW: Jimi Hendrix’s Website
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

There is not much to say about Jimi Hendrix that has not already been stressed for decades. Best guitarist of all time? Possibly. Ground-breaking innovator in the rock genre? Absolutely. And in 2010, that legacy is far from forgotten with his eleventh posthumous release, Valleys of Neptune.

All of the songs on Valleys of Neptune were recorded at the tail end of the 1960’s (right before his death) and clearly illustrate the transition of rock ‘n’ roll from a more psychedelic sound to the harder, funkier one employed throughout the 1970s. The studio precision and sound quality are tremendous. This twelve-song release contains a collection of tracks that mostly qualify as funky. The southpaw’s guitar on an instrumental cover of Cream’s “Sunshine on Your Love” definitely does Eric Clapton justice, and the minute and a half intro on “Lover Man” is a bit astounding. “Lullaby for Summer” contains the usual excellent guitar work with truly lively drum rhythms. “Ships Passing Through the Night” is quintessentially Hendrix, as it is the style that most of his mainstream fans know and love. The album’s strongest track is “Valleys of Neptune,” with Hendrix’s emotional voice luring the listener into his introspective lyrics.

Additionally, this album has six songs that are from previously recorded releases, providing no less value nonetheless. “Fire” is a Hendrix staple, and an American rock and roll classic, while “Red House” offers a much more bluesy side of Hendrix, with a down-south Muddy Waters feel. “Stone Free” (1966) is a track that sounds five years ahead of its time, showing the true impact that Hendrix had on trends in rock and roll music.

Perhaps the downside to this album, however, is a lack of much new material and a lack of fluidity between songs. Of course, this is almost inevitable given that this album was further produced forty years later after the man’s death. This album is being promoted and pushed of an album of all new material, but only fifty percent is. The false advertising is misleading, therefore making this not a complete album, but rather a few new songs accompanied with a compilation of hits. Regardless, this album gives us classic Hendrix tracks with additional gems for our collection. Song after song, Hendrix shows why he’s one of the best, and why in 2010, he is still as relevant to pop culture as he ever was.

– Gregory Fitton

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