Friday, October 9, 2015

Hippies vs. Punks: Jimi Hendrix's Valleys of Neptune

Without much feeling I listened all week (well, let's say, most of the week) to Jimi Hendrix's Valleys of Neptune (2010). A coworker loaned it to me with the forewarning that there wasn't much there.

My first reaction was that Eddie Kramer decided to remix with an "adult contemporary" sheen some of the old tapes. Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding are present, but there is little of the gigantic propulsive sound that was the hallmark of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

My parents owned a copy of Smash Hits (1969). They purchased it on its initial release. It was the only record that could turn me, a small boy, into a violent maniac. By the time the album had spun around to track 9, "Manic Depression," I was blissfully punching and kicking my older sisters. I loved it. It was a powerful drug for a little kid.

What we have, really, in The Jimi Hendrix Experience is the first Punk band. Yes, The Yardbirds and The Who and Velvet Underground should be mentioned, as well as The Rolling Stones, I suppose, but none had the sonic full spectrum dominance of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Sadly, that sound is not to be encountered in Valleys of Neptune. There is some wonderful blues guitar noodling, for instance on "Red House," but nothing that is going to make you want to hop up and down and start kicking and punching.

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