Last month Jimi Hendrix’s Valley Of Neptune emerged from the surface, giving fans hope that authentic rock is not dead, even among the height of the “pop Hip-Hop” wave. The musically gifted guitar icon wrote and recorded songs during his short time on earth, but his music is just now being released by the Experience Hendrix L.L.C. Like many 1970s rock stars, Jimi lived in the moment. During his moment, he collaborated with many greats like Elmore James.
Valleys Of Neptune captures the essence of Hendrix’s voice and his band’s sound. The new digitally recorded album erased any previous production disturbance that may have gotten in the way of Hendrix’s distinct notes. One can hear the different bass styles between bassist Billy Cox and Noel Redding when collaborating with Hendrix. The drummer Mitch Mitchell rocks easily to both of the bassist sounds.
Fans are given a variety of sounds from quick tempo jam sessions to fast paced beats like those in “Fire,” and “Sunshine Of Your Love.” Pure instrumental performances are also demonstrated, including that of “Lullaby For The Summer.”
Hendrix writes and composes music from all elements of life: love, blues, bad luck, escape and refuge. The song “Stone Free” is one such element. It is reprised on this album but first introduced on Are You Experienced? deluxe album. This song is a reflection of Hendrix’s life in which Hendrix belches out being “stone free,” which symbolizes his escapes into his music. The second song,Valley of Neptune, portrays Hendrix’s search for refuge in a place where “the valley of Neptune is rising.” Hendrix even hops on a train in the seven minute piece “Hear My Train A Comin’.”
With all the singing about leaving, one has to think where was Hendrix going to and running away from. According to the album’s booklet, Hendrix often left unfinished songs and came back to them over time. “Ships Passing Through The Night” retraces back to the slow rhythm of blues but carrying with it Hendrix’s rock guitar. One of Hendrix’s favorite guitar artists Elmore James’ wrote “Bleeding Heart,” but Hendrix altered the arrangement of James’ song giving it a longer break to allow Hendrix to play a more upbeat and heavy tempo.
Hendrix’s love of blues rings out on all of his songs, especially on “Red House” and “Cryin’ Blue Rain.” He keeps the traditional trademark of the blues, where the solo guitarist takes the lead and the guitarist’s voice follows with a tale of love as express in “Red House.” “Mr. Bad Luck” personifies Hendrix’s sense of humor,which was often demonstrated in the midst of bad situations.
It has been four decades since any of Jimi Hendrix new material has been seen or heard. Valleys of Neptune is a real treat; it’s like discovering an old record you haven’t heard in a long time. It is clear through his music that Hendrix wants to be remembered, not forgotten.