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Jimi Hendrix - First Rays of the New Rising Sun CD (album) cover


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars According to the Hendrix exploitation estate, this is the album Jimi intended to release after Gypsies, but it's probably only another exploitation scheme. If the material of this album is indeed from the three "true" posthumous releases of Cry Of Love, Rainbow Bridges and War Heroes, I am definitely not aware that Jimi was planning yet another album, as the length of this release would have you believe. Most likely Jimi's next release would've been a pick of material from either Rainbow Bridges or Cry of Love because the tracks on War Heroes are simply too raw for release.

So despite Jimi's family's wish, this proposition of track and their succession is only a figment of their imagination, as they avoid Rainbow Bridges' best tracks (unlikely) and add all of CoL (very likely) and almost all of War Heroes (highly unlikely), although I think some of the tracks from the latter album are in a different version. Soooooo, we'll let Jimi's sister (she administers the legacy) fantasize about her brother's next move and we should really avoid such exploitation products.

Report this review (#211093)
Posted Sunday, April 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is nothing that another release of ''The Cry Of Love'' which saw the light in 1971. The start of a neverending and useless (as far as I'm concerned) story. The end of the story being to cash in anyway...

In 1995, the Hendrix family took charge of the heritage of the master and decided was what genuine and what was not. IMO, this album is one out of many that is only good for the cash machine.

''The Cry Of Love'' was the first posthumous (or fourth) studio album from the man. It was well perceived at the time of release and even reached the top ten in the US charts.

Several tracks were practically finalized, while some others needed some editing for the project. Globally, I would say that this album was as close as one could get after his death. Mitch Mitchell participated extensively to the production of this work, which is a sign of quality IMO.

So, the Hendrix family thought it was wise to re-release this album, and they plugged some seven additional tracks (alternate versions of existing numbers) to the genuine ones from '''The Cry Of Love''. I wouldn't say that the effort is gorgeous, but at least it brings the early recordings back to life and it also makes it cheaper to the fan to buy this record than the original ''The Cry Of Love''.

There were some excellent tracks on the original recordings of which ''Night Bird Flying'' as well as a concert classic ''Ezy Rider'' that shows a powerful Hendrix all the way through. One of the highlights. There are even two rock ballads to temper the harder sounds (''Angel'' and ''Drifting''). Both of them being rather appealing and catchy. ''My Friend'' on the other end, is just a simple, straight and avoidable blues tune. A filler IMHHO.

One of my favourite, is ''Beginnings'' even if it might sound loose and somewhat incoherent between distinctive parts. It is a complex song (instrumental) that frequently changes from topic. A wild track for sure and another highlight. Maybe the best ''new'' song of the whole (re) work even if some might find it a bit too ''jammy''.

About the added tracks for this version of ''First Rays Of The New Rising Sun'', the funky ''Dolly Dagger'' can be considered as a filler. The version of ''Izabella'' featured here is not that great either. This song was already rehearsed in August '69 and belonged to the live sets regularly. Do listen to these ones instead.

My fave out the non- ''Cry Of Love'' ones is the fantastic ''Stepping Stone''. Another huge Hendrix tracks. Just as ''Hey Baby'' which is probably the easiest song for non-Hendrix lovers: sweet vocals (as he was singing most of the times), a fantastic and catchy melody and a smooth guitar play all the way through. Great ingredients for a great Hendrix track. But I'm biased. Still, A HUGE TRACK AGAIN.

The last three numbers are just average IMVHHO (in my very humble and honest opinion in this very special Hendrix review). ''Astro Man'' is particularly weak globally. And when I listen to these stupid backing vocals during '' In From The Storm'' I really believe that the master wouldn't have digested them either. The very average blues '' Belly Button Window'' is not a great moment of music either. As I have said, ''The Cry Of Love'' was a very good attempt to release the fourth Hendrix studio album. Bearing in mind that it is very rare (which means very expensive), this ''First Rays Of The New Rising Sun'' is the only, and good, and cheap option nowadays.

Three stars.

Report this review (#211571)
Posted Friday, April 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well here it is the last review in the set of reissues from the Hendrix catalog. I am sure there will be more opportunities in the future with the wealth of music that is continually getting uncovered from the Hendrix estate.

First Rays Of The New Rising Sun is making its debut fully re-mastered from the master tapes for the very first time. The end result is a staggering array of music and guitar techniques displayed by the legendary Hendrix. Previously this music came out piece meal via the albums The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge in 1971 and finally in another incarnation in 1972 as War Heroes. These issues only grazed the surface and where incomplete collections. Finally we have the last recording sessions at Electric Ladyland re- mastered beautifully all on one CD. I remember picking up Cry of Love on vinyl in the early 70's, I wish I would have held on to that LP, it is now very rare and was selling for hundreds of dollars at one point but I am not sure with the advent of this collection that still applies.

Besides the 17 awesome tracks on this set we again get to enjoy the documentary "An Inside Look" with Eddie Kramer. Kramer takes you through some of the recording processes and breaks it all down just as he did on the previous releases with "Dolly Dagger", "Angel", "Night Bird Flying" and "Freedom". The added bonus is you get some great live footage snippets of Hendrix performing songs live like the funky "Dolly Dagger", which was always one of my favorites.

The re-mastering of these tracks brings a new life to the sound of Hendrix and his band. I found listening to this set was even more jaw dropping than the other three sets. Although the others were equally outstanding musically, this set of tracks sounds more vibrant and today than any I have ever heard before. I think the main reason is because Hendrix changed the configuration of his band bringing in Billy Cox on bass to replace Noel Redding, thereby changing the entire chemistry of the group and pushing Jimi to create more expansively. Jimi was obviously more in a groove with Cox as his anchor man and even Mitch Mitchell (drums) felt this was the best band he played in to date. This is also noted by Kramer on the DVD commenting how Jimi laid down tracks for four different guitar parts and made it all come together somehow on "Night Bird Flying", the first cut Kramer and Hendrix created from scratch at Electric Ladyland. Kramer also said this was the reason he never played it live, because it was such a complex piece of music.

Nobody knew where the man was coming from or where he was going, they all just followed and it fell together. I am sure everyone that was involved with the evolution of Hendrix in the studio is grateful to have witnessed a genius at work and watched in amazement as each track came together. From the moment you give this CD its first spin and "Freedom" kicks in, I guarantee you will be spellbound just as you were the first time you heard it. This time it will all sound refreshing and new even though it was all recorded between 1968 and 1970. I suggest getting this entire set and anything else you can get your hands on that you have not heard before from Hendrix.

Key Tracks: Freedom, Night Bird Flying, Angel

Report this review (#352401)
Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars EDIT: Whoops, mispublished my Electric Ladyland review here. He's the New Rising Sun review.

First Rays of the New Rising sun is a tricky one - but then again, all of Jimi's posthumous releases are. Few artists from the 1960s had a posthumous career as rich as Jimi's - though if you look forward to the 1990s Tupac Shakur's career after death puts Jimi's in the shade. There is absolutely no question that this needed to be curtailed because by the mid-1970s those who owned the rights to the songs had taken to overdubbing sparse, unfinished demos with music played by session musicians who had never even *met* Jimi for the sake of squeezing a little more product out of the poor guy. Although questions might be raised about the Hendrix family's own management of the material after they regained the rights, I have absolutely no doubt that they made the right call in discontinuing the various posthumous albums that had come out.

That said, the material on here is superb, though possibly of mildly less interest to fans only interested in Jimi's progressive side. It's clear that at the time of his death Jimi was working on reconciling the psych-prog approach of his work with the Experience with the raw blues power of the Band of Gypsys. On more or less all the tracks he succeeds - Freedom, Izabella, Dolly Dagger, Ezy Rider, Room Full of Mirrors, all pack one hell of a punch. The album also includes Angel, without a question one of Jimi's most poignant songs, as well as the placid Drifting, which shows that he hadn't completely turned his back on progressive material. But not all of the work is top-tier: My Friend goes on a little too long, Astro Man is a bit of silliness which could have done with a bit more work, and the ditty Belly Button Window - one of the last songs Jimi ever worked on - seems to be more of a gift to a pregnant friend than a track seriously considered for album inclusion.

Although the Hendrix estate claims that they've tried to reconstruct as closely as possible the album Jimi was working on when he died, there's no doubt that they haven't succeeded, and couldn't possibly have succeeded - that album is only on sale in heaven. But until we get there, First Rays of the New Rising Sun is a more than welcome substitute. Even so, as good as a lot of the material is, it can only ever be a substitute. Some things just can't be replaced.

Report this review (#449915)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2011 | Review Permalink

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