Thursday, February 14, 2013

Album Review: "First Rays of the New Rising Sun" by Jimi Hendrix

Let's take another foray into the world of Jimi Hendrix. (There will be two others on the horizon as well, including the new release in March.)

It has been said thousands of millions of times that Jimi was the greatest, and that has not changed a single bit. There are many kinds of artists that play music, but it is felt by this blogger that Jimi was far more than just a musician. He was a poet, but he was not just any poet with a pen.

Part of the poetry that Jimi recited night in and night out took place through his hands and because of the kind of artist Jimi was, it is very important that when outside hands, even Janie Hendrix's, are touching his works that the utmost care be taken. It would be like making some changes to Shakespeare's plays now. Of course they do that, but that's neither here nor there... Right?

From the Isle of Wight Festival
This album was being worked on in the last few months of Jimi's life. Experience Hendrix has done their best to recreate the album that Jimi himself had titled as such.

First and foremost, it must be said that this is not a Jimi Hendrix Experience album, per se. Noel Redding is nowhere to be found, and Band of Gypsies drummer, Buddy Miles, makes a few appearances as well.

This record was originally intended to be another double LP release in late 1970 or early 1971. As his life went on, Jimi seemed to be becoming far more ambitious in his work, which is another reason his untimely death was all too tragic.

The standard Jimi psychedelia is all over this album as are Jimi's "trademark" vocals. There are spots where they sound unfinished. Jimi was never the best vocalist and it would seem that he only sang in order to ensure he was no longer a sideman, but there was always a certain quality to his vocals. In some spots it seems that the vocals used were not the ones that would have made it onto the tracks. They sound more akin to Jimi's live sound where he could not go back and overdub till they felt they were right.

There are some nice surprises in the middle of the record, or side 3 as it should have been. Jimi breaks into a 12 bar blues song that will melt your heart. It's very stripped down and has sound effects of the song being played in a bar with people drinking, the door opening and closing, and cheers. It's truly a wonderful blues song.

There are some issues with this disc. Electric Ladyland was a sonic and musical masterpiece and this LP was intended to be the follow up, and it would have been a very worthy one, had the man himself been there to put his fingerprints on it. That is the major flaw in this record. It just feels unfinished because of the amazing things Jimi did with its predecessor. Is this a far comparison? Probably not, but it's mine.

My other complaint, if it could be called one, is the familiarity I had with the music on this CD to begin with. My Jimi Hendrix collection has been comprised, so far, of a scant this, the abridged Woodstock, Are You Experienced, The Ultimate Experience, and Electric Ladyland. (Sad, I know, but there is another in they mail as we speak.) Even with those few albums, it felt like many of the tracks were very familiar upon hearing the record for the first time. At least three of the songs were on the abridged Woodstock release.

All in all, Jimi Hendrix released three albums in his life, and there will have been three posthumous albums. I cannot imagine a fan not purchasing all six. This is a great album, as is anything Jimi Hendrix has done.

Genre: Rock
Year: 1997
Run time: 69:25

Track listing:

1) Freedom
2) Izabella
3) Night Bird Flying
4) Angel
5) Room Full of Mirrors
6) Dolly Dagger
7) Ezy Rider
8) Drifter
9) Beginnings
10) Stepping Stone
11) My Friend
12) Straight Ahead
13) Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
14) Earth Blues
15) Astro Man
16) In From The Storm
17) Belly Button Window

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