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3.5 out of 5 stars
Valleys of Neptune
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 March 2010
This album fills a gap between the studio out-takes In the Studio Vol.1-10 and Astro Man (6 x CD Box Set) (with those they're good to have, but you know what you are getting) and the albums released during his lifetime, in the sense that it is better finished material and easier to listen to for reasons other than historical interest.

But is any good? It certainly doesn't damage his reputation but it's not essential listening.

There's some good guitar playing (duh..), and tight performances but there is no doubt in my mind that for many of the tracks I am still listening to ideas in development rather than material ever intended for release. The whole definitely doesn't exceed the sum of its parts.

Valleys is nothing amazing, to my ears slightly lacklustre, but definitely listenable. The definitive version of Hear My Train remains the live version on Rainbow Bridge, but the studio version here is a good rehearsal. Stone Free and Fire are easily comparable to the released versions (I think I prefer this version of Fire to the original) Sunshine is a jam, it's a good jam but it lacks focus and goes straight into Lover Man which is good but nothing to cause your heart to miss a beat. There's yet another good version of Red House - reminds me very much of the version from "In The West" but it has been faded, presumably because something happened to the tape or there was a studio catastrophe, or something.

Lullaby is definitely a precursor for material that appeared on Cry of Love, but its a workthough of ideas rather than a song in its own right. with an abrupt stop (again it feels like an editorial decision, see above) Crying Blue Rain is a blues with roots in both Red House and Hear My Train. It's got a nice feel but loses focus as it breaks into a jam and is faded out.

On balance a nice to have but not a priority. The package includes a measured essay by John McDermott. I haven't yet strayed into the bonus material included for your computer.

Update: Eddie Kramer was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 "Front row" (8 Mar) and we learn that the vocals for Valley were "surgically removed" from an earlier analogue version and spliced digitally to the music we hear here. Kramer said that despite the two versions being over a year apart, the vocals "fitted perfectly" (is that the power of digital technology or the skill of JH?) - makes the album seem even more of a collage than I thought.

While this doesn't make the album another "Crash Landing" it does seem to be heading that way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 9 July 2011
I have been a Hendrix fan for yonks now, and will very probably remain one all my life. At the height of his considerable powers, I suppose basically at the end of the 60's, he was an unstoppable force, an amazing talent and virtuoso guitarist the likes of which the world hadn't seen before. He shook up the music world, and has left a legacy of great music and great musicianship that still enthrals the world to this day. His playing and music is copied and emulated all over the world now, with huge numbers of people trying to play like him, and of course trying to understand him and his motivations for playing the way he did. He was a musical genius, who not only could play utterly magnificently but could also compose wonderful pieces too. He was technically gifted as a guitarist, but was also a brilliant improviser too, not always qualities that come together in musicians; its often one or the other; I know, I'm a guitarist too!

I bought this album 'Valleys of Neptune' a while back, as I wanted to savour it and really enjoy it when I was in the mood. My first impression was that, at least, I had not heard of any of the tracks before, in the sense that, although I have heard 'Stone Free' and 'Bleeding Heart' and others before, they were different versions. That helps a lot; they are at least original new recordings. And as I played the cd the other day, to be quite frank, I did enjoy listening to it, but I will always enjoy listening to Hendrix to be honest. I've reviewed another Hendrix cd, which was chronic, but this isn't; it's a reasonable cd for a new release.

To sum up, I enjoyed listening to this cd and will listen to it again, but its only got three stars because it isn't brilliant to my mind, just pretty good. I really enjoyed listening to the 'Jimi Hendrix: Blues' cd however! If you like Blues and Jimi Hendrix, I can recommend this cd a whole lot! I may even write a review of it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2010
So what to make of this latest release, coming as it does 40 years after Jimi departed. Experience Hendrix are promoting this as an all new, unreleased studio album. Its far from that. Many of the tracks have been released before, either officially or bootlegged, but are just currently unavailable. As an album it is listenable (especially with the volume full on in the car), but the truth is this is a mixed bag - some magic moments, but a few not so memorable. Some tracks are nothing more than jams or try outs, and Jimi's vocals on some takes seem pushed (or shouted) and not the mellow tones we are used to on his classic recordings. Many tracks lack an effective end passage.

The opening track - Stone Free - is a bloody marvel and a significant step up from the original B side cut. It just flies. The title track is of interest, but it is clearly a work in progress and it would have been significantly improved had Jimi lived. Also a great lump of really special guitar solo has been editted out. Check out the bootlegs for the full story. Bleeding Heart is taken at an unsympathetic pace for a blues, but if you can shut that out of your mind then it does contain truly wonderful playing. The version of Hear My Train A-Coming is as good as any studio take of that song and comes close to the excitement of the live renditions. The same is true of Red House, although I'm not sure we needed another version of that song. Mr Bad Luck (aka Look Over Yonder) is another worthy track, albeit released before on Rainbow bridge in a very simiar form.

After that the quality rather runs out. Lover Man is just a noodling jam albeit at a different pace than we have heard it before. Sunshine Of Your Love is a nice tribute piece, but it isnt worthy of our man. What it does do is expose just how limp a bass player Noel Redding was. He totally wastes the solo opportunity given him here. Just imagine what Jack Bruce would have produced. Noel should have been more grateful for the opportunity to play with a genius. Ships Passing In The Night is nothing more than an early work out of what became the superb Night Bird Flying. Interesting to hear once, but ridiculous to release it under the banner of being some sort of polished masterpiece. Fire adds nothing to what we know of it already from earlier releases. Lullaby For Summer is just a jam around the Ezy Ryder riffs. And I don't know who makes up these song titles, this couldn't be less of a lullaby if it tried. Crying Blue Rain is a compilation of many oft heard riffs that Jimi was playing with, with a coda section loosely based on A Room Full Of Mirrors. It has the potential to develop into ethnic american indian piece, but again it is nowhere near finished. The two bonus tracks contained on some releases: Slow Version and Trashman, are both fairly pointless jams, and of course Experience Hendrix left off one track (Peace In Mississippi) saving for the B side of the derivative CD single, making sure that we buy two products rather than one.

Overall it is a listenable album, though nowhere near Jimi's best stuff. We all have to accept that after 40 years there aint gonna be some incredible find, perfectly formed in every way. If that existed it would have been out there in Ladyland 20 or 30 years ago. Tenpasteight
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Can't believe it but CD arrived today! OK, so I'm biased, let's get that out the way from the start. Hendrix was and I consider will be for many, many years to come the most influential rock guitarist the world has produced. For those who rate later guys, all I say is where would they be if he hadn't come along? Right, now that's out the way, the music.

Well for a start you know that you are going to get the highest quality possible from the Hendrix Family - the same cannot be said for many other releases, (especially those from his old manager's estate, even though historically important). These tracks come from '69 with the exception being "Bad Luck" from '67. Whilst the songs on here will (in the main) be familiar to most Hendrix fans, the versions might not be with "Ships Passing Through The Night" being a new one for me. I consider the playing and the sound superb on this CD, and definitely well worth purchasing.It comes with a 24 page book containing plenty of info and photos.

The packaging is digipack style with a plastic tray insert. Why they didn't go the whole hog and make it 100% cardboard beats me - sorry, I have a "thing" about plastic.

So to answer my question in the heading "Can Hendrix ever be a waste of money/time?" - not as long as releases such as this come along. This is (obviously) not the place to start with Hendrix, but to anyone with any real interest in the man, I would say an essential purchase.Only 4 stars as familiar songs, but musically, for rock over 40 years old - unbelievable!
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2010
As a complete Hendrix nut i have bought everything with Jimi's name on over the years. This album has Hendrix working over ideas that didn't quite work out and roughs of later retitled tunes being scratched over in the studio. There are obvious familiar tunes but sadly not the best versions of those either :-(

If anyone comes to Hendrix's music starting with this rehash they might be put off buying the essential Jimi recordings such as Are You Experienced/Electric Lady Land/Axis Bold as Love and also the great Hendrix Concerts!

Electric Ladyland
Axis: Bold As Love
Are You Experienced
The Concerts

I'm sure Jimi wouldn't have released these versions himself! Sadly those responsible for these releases have only one motive and that's profit :-(

There are many live concerts that could be remastered judging by the number of dodgy bootlegs that have surfaced over the last four decades, why not officially release them ??

Stick to the great albums and ignore the tweaked/remixed (80's backing tracks added to 60's mix)versions. If Hendrix wanted them released they would already be out there :-)

"When I die just keep playing the records" but maybe not this one :-(
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2013
This gets 2 stars from me, one because it's Jimi, and one for the nice clear audio quality.
The Hendrix estate people have managed to create one more collection of barrel-scrapings. This has gone on for too long - job's done, guys and girls, you have released some interesting material in the past, but now it's time to go home / get a new job. This album just goes to show, there's nothing more worth releasing. Here is a generous dollop of the aforesaid nothing.
The long run has shown, that Polydor had it more-or-less right in the early seventies - "Cry of Love" plus "Rainbow Bridge" plus "In The West" for live material (plus the DVD of Monterey) is really all we needed.
I write this, as a lifelong Hendrix fan - I'm 60 now, and had his albums when I was at school - but MCA aren't getting any more of my money, as they (to quote Jomi Mitchell) "carve the last few dollars off" the Hendrix tape vaults.
However great a musical genius he was, he only had 3 years of recording, and there's only going to be a finite amount of worthwhile material. I look at the pile of Hendrix albums that I have, and am awed by the great things he wrote and played. I don't need a seventh version of Red House, or tracks I know, released under a different title - I'm not even going to thank you for trying to wring-out another album - we don't need this.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 March 2010
This is not bad at all. What a wonderful feeling - a new Jimi Hendrix Experience album after 40 years. Talk about nostalgia! OK, so Mr. Bad Luck is a forerunner of Look Over Yonder and Ships Passing in the Night is a prototype of Night Bird Flying and Lullaby For The Summer is the riff to Ezy Rider. However they are indicative of a highly creative guitarist/musician creating and sculpting his songs. They are still very interesting versions. On this CD you will hear some sublime chordal work as on Bleeding Heart and beautiful songwriting as on Valleys of Neptune and some soaring lead guitar work on Hear My Train and Red House. Plenty of soul on Crying Blue Rain. If this is scraping the barrel then the barrel is made of gold. Not Jimi at his best but loads better than most of the posthumous releases. Wow! the Jimi Hendrix Experience are back.
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on 22 February 2015
Jimi plays some great tunes and sings a bit too. There is only excellent music on this album. Whether you enjoy this album will depend very much on how you view the release of out takes and rarities. If you see it as a cash in where lesser and unfinished works or inferior discarded takes are polished up and served up to the foolish then grumble away. If however you are interested in how songs develop and change, how a performer varies the delivery of his material or you just want to hear that blistering bit of guitar that happens on a song that wasn't quite fully put together (by Hendrix's standards) You'll find a whole album to love here. Other lost souls may spend too much time lamenting that an alternate take only released as a bootleg fexidisc in Luxembourg in a limited edition of 10 was far superior, or suggest nothing but the original albums on 180gram vinyl will do. I however would humbly suggest you bang it on turn it up and listen to it. Its great. my ears found the version of "Stone Free" to be total class. "Valleys of Neptune" is a new favourite and the whole thing fits together nicely with even the slightly less polished cuts like the instrumental version of "Sunshine of your love" complimenting the album experience as a whole.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2010
Any new official Hendrix album is worthwhile, of course, and Valleys of Neptune is no exception. While it's true that almost all of these tracks are available on various bootlegs and `semi-legal' CDs such as the Astro Man and I Don't Live Today sets, the sound quality on this CD is far superior to anything previously released.

Valleys of Neptune, in this form with combined takes, would probably not have been heard before. It's a tune with a lot of promise which lyrically builds on the sea/ocean themes on Electric Ladyland. Stone Free was originally released on the 1975 'Alan Douglas' Crash Landing release but sounds much better here. Mr Bad Luck has been officially released before.

However, despite the Estate's statements, these are not `fully realised' songs. Rather, they are demos, sketches and experiments which are interesting at worst and add something new to the Hendrix legacy. The rehearsal tracks for the Albert Hall shows are terrific.

Packaging is very good, with informative liner notes and some nice photos. Recommended for Hendrix fans but not newbies.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2012
Judging by the many negative and ungrateful reviews found here as opposed to the mainly positive reviews of the previous two albums released by the estate I can only assume that an awful lot of Hendrix fans can't tell good from run-of-the mill, boring and bad. Or perhaps the bad reviews here are really just based on the assumption that this one was inevitably going to be worse - just 'barrel-scraping' as one of them put it. But not a bit of it: this is the real Hendrix again - in fact the one we haven't heard much of since 'Are You Experienced', or the BBC recordings, and the one that we wanted to hear more of in the concerts but often didn't.
It's actually better than so many of the often sloppy performances in the concerts. He sounds so at ease here in the studio and this allows him to jam freely and unselfconsciously with his mind properly on the job. And it sounds as if he's clean. It's superior in every way to the casual studio sessions to be found on 'South Saturn Delta' which appeared in 1999. The disappointment that resulted from hearing that album, which was indeed something more like 'barrel-scraping', may well have led some people to expect any later releases originating in the same way to be even less rewarding, but this is far from the case.
It is inconceivable to me that anyone who really appreciates Hendrix could listen to this late bonus without being grateful that it has been made available, even if it has taken so long to arrive.
But don't expect any brilliant new compositions as such. Just enjoy the natural Hendrix, without that (occasionally) strained sounding effort of hard work in the studio to produce something that sounds as if it's meant to be impressive and significant while in reality behind the 'sound' there is not much inspiration and nothing of great musical value - which is how I could describe at least some of the tracks on 'First Rays Of The New Rising Sun', 'Electric Ladyland' and 'Axis Bold As Love'. But even those tracks do for the most part avoid the rhythmic monotony which disqualifies most rock music from serious consideration, and of course Hendrix's parlando style of singing is always uniquely impressive and fascinating. In the end I think there is so little good rock music we are be able to listen to, even after 50 years or so of rock history, and we need to make the best of what we have, albeit with the proper critical discrimination. Sometimes I just feel desperate for some decent rock music as a break from my regular diet of Opera, chamber music, symphonies and concertos etc.

Mitchell is on superb form here and the results make the point that for Hendrix's music to work fully the input from the drummer is crucial. On the 'Rising Sun' he is much less to the fore and although credited for most of the tracks I sometimes had my doubts. For me the Band of Gypsies failed because of his absence.
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