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VALLEYS OF NEPTUNE

Jimi Hendrix

Proto-Prog


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4 stars As a life long fan of the great guitarist, this highly anticipated release was very much looked forward to by these "experienced" ears. Jimi's step-sister, Janie, who now heads Experience Hendrix has marketed and exploited Jimi's legacy in a less than honorable way with this release, in my opinion. Touted as over 60 minutes of complete and unreleased studio recordings is far from the truth. Yes, these are all studio recordings, but only a few are actually complete, such as the unreleased track from Axis: Bold As Love, Mr. Bad Luck, which isn't a new song at all, just an earlier version of Look Over Yonder. Most of the tracks are raw studio re-workings of early songs, and/or studio versions of jams or tunes that were played in concert, such as Sunshine Of Your Love. It's obvious that these studio sessions are mostly live in the studio jams, and many are edited and fade out at the end, which usually indicates that the whole jam fell apart before the end. Don't get me wrong though, as these tracks will still give you an exciting listen, especially when Jimi kicks in with his always powerful, stellar, and otherworldly lead guitar. It seems that Experience Hendrix is now deperate to find and make more money from Jimi's legacy, and are now digging at the bottom of the barrel to find more Jimi gems. Really there's nothing new here. All of the tracks are songs and tunes that you've heard in one form or another on either official releases or bootleg recordings. If Jimi was around, this release would have never happened. Jimi was, besides being the God gifted guitarist that he was, a master arranger too, and ALL of the tracks would have been perfected with overdubs, and the end result would have certainly been a much more sophisticted product. than we have here. Plus, I doubt if Jimi would have released these particular tracks together on one album. But of course, getting any unreleased Jimi is better than nothing. The only real problem I have is in the way Experience Hendrix is marketing this release. My expectaions were a bit bruised, but I should have know better. But for any fan of the master guitarist, this release is certainly worth getting. My rating: 4 stars.

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Send comments to Dennis (BETA) | Report this review (#271190)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have been a Jimi Hendrix fan for a while. I am only 14, but I still love everything he did. This being said, this album is great. Many people complain at how most of these songs have already been released, but they ave been released over many CDs that I don't want to bother buying. This album to me is one of the best Hendrix compilations since Experience Hendrix. I only own three of these songs (don't blame me for not having money to buy more than Experience and Band of Gypsys), so this is great for me.

Still, it would have been nice to have more unreleased songs, so I give it a 4 1/2 stars.

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Send comments to Crimson Animals (BETA) | Report this review (#271564)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
jammun
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, a new Hendrix album. Twelve new songs, six of which I've heard in at least one previous incarnation. Here are my first impressions. For the sake of brevity (and because I am incapable of describing the magic), this assumes familiarity with Hendrix's early albums.

Stone Free lacks the nuances of the version we're all familiar with, but not a bad take on it. I'd still vote for the original over this one.

Valleys of Neptune is very much Cry of Love material. It's got the funkier sound of his later work, to the point one would wonder why it was not on that album. Seriously reminiscent of Straight Ahead, for example. But realistically, nothing to get too excited about.

Bleeding Heart has been around in a few incarnations. Of the ones I've heard, this is probably definitive, with excellent wah guitar (and otherwise) throughout.

I'd previously only heard the live version of Hear My Train A Comin' . This is pure blues, in the Voodoo Chile Slight Return mold. In fact ol' Jimi sez Gonna be a Voodoo Chile" at one point. And yes he is. Wave after wave of guitar magic.

Mr. Bad Luck. Yes, look over yonder...nice groove. Realistically, other than the referential lyrics, this one's more or less a throwaway.

Sunshine of Your Love. Hendrix plays Clapton. Holy Shite! There's a sort of waka-waka funkfest in the middle, which detracts in general, but it eventually evolves to the Outside Woman Blues riff so all's forgiven. But if you're wondering about the mythical Hendrix, step right up...it's all here.

Lover Man is simply just raining sheets of blues. Ironic, that this is a pretty average blues workout for Hendrix. For anyone else, it's their masterpiece.

Ships Passing... See comments for Valleys of Neptune. More Cry of Love era material. He's reaching for something beyond what he's been doing, but not quite figuring out how to get there. Make no mistake...the guitar is already there. The songwriting, not quite.

Fire -- not like I've heard this before. Decent alternate take, but without "move over rover, let Jimi take over" it just ain't happening for me.

Red House -- a bit too slow for my taste, but if you want to hear impeccable blues guitar, look no further. What did i say a few songs back? Wave after wave of guitar magic, really an onslaught. The amazing thing: he knows none of the 'modern era' tricks and still outshines his successors.

Lullaby... see comments for Ships Passing...I hear a bit of Izabella lurking within here.

Crying Blue Rain -- Voodoo Chile Slight Return, take three. Low wattage blues, for the most part, though it gets to a bit of standard rock towards the end.

The sound quality is clean throughout. New album, but you'll not hear much new here...just song after song of that prototypical Hendrix sound.

Really, I do not intend to demean the album. It's a good one. Given the offal that's borne the Hendrix name in the past, this one shines. If you've got your Hendrix house in order, it will fit right in. But I'd say a newcomer to Hendrix would be better served by one or more of the original three albums.

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Send comments to jammun (BETA) | Report this review (#271642)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
debrewguy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars In this day & age, the marvels of modern business enterprise give the dedicated fan a treasure trove of heretofore unknown recordings from our musical idols. DVDs, concerts, box sets, many provide a music fan like me with new music from my idols who no longer record or tour, or exist for that matter.

Unfortunately, that also means releases like Valley of Neptune. Alternate versions, out-takes, incomplete recordings finished up & filled out with overdubs many years later .

Even the recent series of "new" Jimi releases give pause to the many of his fans. First the titles all seem to play on the man's "psychedelic shaman mystic" image - Voodoo Soup, First Rays of the New Rising Sun, South Saturn Delta - they seem creations of a marketing dept rather than an inspired artistic phrase.<>

But, these concerns are irrelevant to the music. Except that the music itself comes across just as tired, and it's not hard to see why Hendrix didn't put out much of this stuff while he was alive. Yes, the unfinished songs are interesting, but the finished product can not be said to fulfill the guitarist's vision. Because he ain't here to say or do so.

Soooo ... if you're among the hard core of Jimi's fans, this will interest you. And you can rest assured that there's still more to come. But if you're like me, you didn't need to hear very inferior versions of songs like Stone Free or Fire that add nothing to the original , not musically or historically. And you don't need to hear the unreleased stuff that makes you think a great artist like Hendrix wrote and sang more crappy music than good or great. As a comparison, The Beatles anthologies did so. This album, Valley of Neptune does not.<>

And in the end, I play this music, and I'm left thinking that if you look at Jimi's whole output, the quality has been tilting wildly to the bad . Please , to those who run his estate, a higher level of quality control, and less artistic license (re-recordings, adding parts by other musicians) is what you have to look at if you say you're looking after the Hendrix legacy and reputation. And this release is not something that elevates Jimi's standing as a great musician. <>

Stay away unless you can't get enough of him. For the rest of us, the old albums are worthy of our time. <>

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Send comments to debrewguy (BETA) | Report this review (#272358)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars So, new (?) Jimi Hendrix album. How good it is? I think, it is generally good.

You can really enjoy it if you never owned original Hendrix studio album, or his great live album, or good compilation (one from hundred possible). If you have his name, but just missed his legacy ( all generation is growing, so it's no joke). It is not a best entry album, but could be used for that as well.

You can enjoy this album as well if your only Hendrix is "Blues" compilation (really great one). So, you will hear more different sides of his music. For sure you must have it, if you're collector ( I believe this category is main market target of this release).

In all other cases this album is still not bad. For your money you will get 12 songs ( four of them are really unreleased), good sound quality and feeling that you own fresh Hendrix album. Possibly, you wouldn't be too much happy, when after listening you will realize, that almost half of all songs you heard many times before (ok, there are formally slightly different versions). And possibly you will be a bit disappointed because some compositions sound more as demo versions or studio outtakes ( they really are). But what could you expect from new album of great guitarist some decades after his death?

So - no way sensation. Listenable and pleasant in many moments, but hardly "new" album, and money wasn't the last reason of this release for sure. But -what a terrible time we are living in? Listening new Hendrix album I am speaking about money....

Just listen and enjoy - once again, he is one of greatest guitarist in rock history.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#272360)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Valleys Of Neptune' - Jimi Hendrix (6/10)

When Jimi Hendrix was alive, he released three studio albums. Post-humously, another ten popped out. Most of these haven't been much more than shameless cash-ins by those still living, trying to make an extra buck off of the music of the dearly departed. 'Valleys Of Neptune' is the most recent of these, and also arguably the best, although it is not a studio album in the conventional sense. Instead, this is a collection of previously unreleased studio material, and while the music here still sounds a little more familiar to a Hendrix listener than would have desired, this is a nice dose of material from a guitarist we lost all too soon.

In their efforts to create a follow-up to the highly acclaimed 'Electric Ladyland', the Jimi Hendrix Experience laboured on these tracks shortly before Hendrix met his untimely demise. As a result, a lot of the music heard on 'Valleys Of Neptune' was left unfinished, and this is evident through inconsistent production and a more raw feeling than usually heard on a Hendrix release. As far as the style and songs themselves go, this is standard Hendrix fare, with many of his classics poking up here in the forms of alternate takes. There are a handful of songs here that weren't heard on the original albums, but much of the work here are either covers of other artists, or fresh renditions of Hendrix's material. As Hendrix was prone to do with his covers, he does not merely play another artist's material, but rather puts his own convincing and unique spin on them. 'Sunshine Of Your Love' for example is made into an instrumental psych rock jam. As for the 'new' versions of his existing music, they are not much special- they are made different from the originals, but usually this only amounts to a difference in mixing and dynamics in the performance, rather than legitimately new ideas coming through.

The title track 'Valleys Of Neptune' is arguably the most relevant track here, being one of the most sought-after recordings of Hendrix's before this album came out. It is a bluesy track with some great guitar ideas; he shows his skill with the instrument within the context of the songwriting, rather than relying on a solo to strut his stuff. For lovers of Hendrix's guitar solos, there are plenty to choose from here, and from a historical context, it is pretty amazing what the man was doing. There is aggression in his playing that was not usually heard in popular music of the time. All the same, there is no getting past the fact that this is a work that is defined by its incompletion; Hendrix himself would not have been satisfied with the way most of these recordings have ended up, and perhaps he would not have even wanted them heard to begin with. The charm of his music is here though, and while this ultimately adds little to the legend of Jimi Hendrix, it's nice to hear some ever-so-slightly fresh material from him.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#557577)
Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Certainly not the place to begin with Hendrix - and it seems unlikely that many people would start here - I do believe that Valleys of Neptune really is for fans only. Despite the rush of excitement that came with this album's release, even for a collection of rarities, it's not all that fascinating. First Rays... and South Saturn Delta are compiled in a similar vein and are far superior.

'Previously unreleased' to some extent, many of the tracks here are alternate or early versions of well-known songs. For the bootleg collector, it is nice to hear the tracks, especially those extremely rare, presented in a higher quality - Eddie Kramer was on board for this project at least.

Mostly recorded around the Electric Ladyland sessions, there are a few highlights in the compilation. 'Hear My Train A Coming' is pretty good stuff and the version of 'Fire' is rough and ready, and of course, the title track is nice enough but probably the real show stealer for me is the closer, 'Crying Blue Rain' which is a loose jam that demonstrates what comes off as the casual genius of Hendrix.

Otherwise the songs don't all offer a lot on their preexisting counterparts. Admittedly, this collection makes for a fine inclusion to the completionist's catalogue, or someone interested in seeing early versions of some of his songs, but if you don't feel like you fall into either category or are looking to start things off, go for the studio albums released during his lifetime or the 90s compilation Ultimate Experience.

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Send comments to dreadpirateroberts (BETA) | Report this review (#778202)
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | Review Permalink

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