Valley of Neptune – (2010) 12 tracks 62 minutes
Many people question how a dead artist can keep releasing CD’s. I can’t answer that; however I can tell you this is a great CD. On it, you’ll find studio recordings, which until now, were unavailable to the public. Among them are some old standbys. But you’ll also find a couple of new offerings from Jimi.
Recorded in early 1969, this compilation features the song “Valleys of Neptune,” which is one of the most sought after of all of Hendrix’s commercially unavailable tracks. There are also brand new studio versions of Hendrix’s unique spin on “Bleeding Heart” (Elmore James) and “Sunshine of Your Love” (Cream).
“Stone Free”: Though the tune and words are familiar, this version tends to be a little cleaner than previous that I have heard. Jimi’s voice is clear and crisp. As with most of his recordings there is the impromptu “yeah” or “know what I mean?” There is a wonderful guitar solo about 2 minutes into the tune that really jumps out on you. The ending of the song leaves you with a melodic run of guitar notes.
“Valleys of Neptune”: This much sought after tune, has finally been released to the public. Reminiscent of “Bold as Love,” this song has groovy lyrics mentioning the City of Atlantis and Neptune of course. The guitar play in this song is funky and fun.
“Bleeding Heart”: The opening riff on this tune is very attention-grabbing. It drives the song, and keeps your foot tapping through the whole piece. Lyrics include “Understanding is all I need. Misunderstanding and a no-good woman, they both have caused my heart to bleed.” The guitar solo on this track again proves that a guitar can express your emotions as you can hear Jimi scream and agonize through the instrument.
“Hear My Train A Comin’”: From the opening licks you know this is pure Jimi. It is unmistakable. A true blues tune, Jimi’s guitar has a direct connection to his soul on this cut. The pain and misery he portrays in this tune is undeniable. “I hear my train a comin’, and I’m gonna leave this town, and I’m gonna get my heart back together.” The guitar playing on this track is just so remarkable. It’s worth many listens.
“Mr. Bad Luck”: This foot tapping, finger snapping tune starts off quick and grabs you. “Look over yonder, he’s coming my way. When he’s around I never have a happy day. He gives me bad luck, by rubbing his wing. See that, I just broke a guitar string.” This upbeat, catchy tune will stay with you long after the song ends.
“Sunshine of Your Love”: This instrumental remake of Cream’s hit was a fan favorite in the late 60’s for Jimi on tour. The guitar on this is raw, in my opinion, compared to the Cream version, with much more distortion and feeling. Mr. Hendrix as usual, can take a song and put his stamp on it with his unique guitar feel as heard at the end of this song, where he takes the main (oh so familiar) guitar lick, repeats it, and gradually slows down until the end of the song.
“Lover Man”: “I think I see your man, I better get out of here as fast as I can.” Amazingly, Jimi uses the guitar to convey the theme’s he sings about in the song: flirtation, infidelity, and dishonesty. His tone cuts hard and clean contrasted against distorted vocals; picture yourself in a seedy blues bar somewhere in the delta. This is another great tune.
“Ships Passing Through the Night”: A fun tune. Again this tune is riddled and dripping with blues guitar. There is lots of grinding guitar play, and long sustained notes. Have Chad demonstrate the final guitar lick for you. LOL. If you listen close you can hear similarities to Eruption from Van Halen.
“Fire”: This is not much different than other recordings, with the addition of a different background singer. The guitar appears to be more prominent in this version. In guitar circles, you often hear of hot pickups, and they are in force on this tune, along with some hot playing by the master himself. Great meld of both playing and tonality.
“Red House”: Many people identify Jimi with certain songs (Fire, Little Wing, Purple Haze, etc.), but in my opinion this is his greatest tune. He has many versions of this song spread out over various CDs. I feel that this particular version may be his best. This eight minute plus song is overflowing with fast and slow guitar play. Blues at its best, it is a hypnotizing ride into the world of heartbreak.
“Lullaby for the Summer”: This three and a half minute instrumental is just Jimi being Jimi. Jamming on his axe and experimenting with his whammy bar. Of course, as usual he pulls it off, making this piece something special and worth listening to again and again.
”Crying Blue Rain”: The final track on this disc makes you want more. As the title suggests once again Jimi is in agony. Both his voice and corresponding guitar mesh well on this tune. The solo in the middle of this tune is great but short. Throughout, you can hear where Stevie Ray Vaughan got much of his influence.