Billy Cox

REVIEW: Jimi Hendrix – “Valleys of Neptune” (2010 7″ single)

Welcome back to the WEEK OF SINGLES 2!  Yesterday we took a look at Dream Theater’s “Lie” — click here if you missed it.

 

JIMI HENDRIX – “Valleys of Neptune” (2010 Experience Hendrix, Record Store Day release)

I’m just a casual fan, certainly not an expert on the labyrinthine Hendrix back catalog of songs. There are so many takes both released and “previously unreleased” of so many songs. Anyway, bottom line, here is “Valleys of Neptune”, a previously unreleased 40-year old take of a Hendrix song, the title track to the 2010 album it comes from. This is via the official Hendrix-family-approved reissue program. It’s a pretty cool looking single, with suitably 60’s cover art suiting the title, and painted by Jimi himself. The tune itself is a catchy toe-tapping Hendrix rocker performed with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox.  It’s pieced together from recording sessions in 1969 and 1970.

The B-side is a previously unreleased version of “Cat Talking To Me”.  This one was not made available on Valleys of Neptune, not even as a digital download bonus track.  You can only get it on this single.  Jimi cut this one with the Experience in 1967, but Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding returned to the studio in 1987 to add the bass and drums.  Why it wasn’t released in ’87, I don’t know.  I like this one better than the A-side.  It has a good little groove going, at times anticipating where Aerosmith would take American rock and roll in the 1970’s.  The lead vocal is by Mitchell.

For something cool to add to your collection, you can’t go wrong with “Valleys of Neptune”. It looks neat, it sounds great, and the cover art and rare track are sure to make this a collectible.

4/5 stars

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REVIEW: Jimi Hendrix – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (2010)

MERRY CHRISTMAS_0001JIMI HENDRIX – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (2010 Sony EP)

I couldn’t resist picking this single up on CD when I found it at my local Sunrise, although I wish I had also picked up vinyl. It wasn’t a huge expense, and if you’re an old-school music fan like me, you won’t mind paying to have an actual physical format with full colour cover art and liner notes.   A quick browse on Discogs reveals average prices today for all formats:  About $5 for CD, $7-10 for two-track 7″, and about $14 for the 10″ single.

The Band of Gypsys’ 1969 instrumental take of “Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne” sounds largely improvised and spontaneous.  It is, in my humble opinion, a brilliant interpretation and serves to remind us that no matter what he did, nobody sounds like Jimi Hendrix. It’s incredible to me that today, 40 years after his death, there is still nobody that sounds like Jimi Hendrix.

“Three Little Bears” is the same version as on War Heroes so you may have this version already. Then the third track is an extended version of the first, which actually is pretty cool since it’s still over way too soon.

Inside the package are the aformentioned liner notes, as well as an alternate shot from a 1967 “Jimi dressed as Santa” photo shoot, holding copies of Axis: Bold as Love. Liner notes are detailed for a single, revealing the whens and wherefores of the recording sessions.

Recommended for all Hendrix fans, perfect for downing some ‘nog by the fire this winter.

4/5 stars