Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Music Review: Jimi Hendrix - First Rays Of The New Rising Sun

The following is an excerpt from my most recent music review, which was posted at the site of Blogcritics Magazine on May 2, 2010

It’s been nearly 40 years since the most revolutionary guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix, passed away. With three landmark studio albums to his name, plus gems of unreleased material left behind, making a proper posthumous studio album with the latter has always been a tough and controversial task.

No one will ever know for sure how Hendrix himself would have sequenced, fine-tuned and what he would’ve named the follow-up to his third and final album in his lifetime, 1968’s seminal double LP Electric Ladyland. We do know however, it was meant to be a big project - a double or triple LP – that the guitarist had been working on for over two years before his death in September of 1970 at age 27.

The first few attempts at posthumous releases, The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge from 1971 and War Heroes from 1972 were revealing but felt incomplete. It wasn’t until 1997, when Hendrix’s trusted recording engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell used his last handwritten notes and remastered/resequenced his last tracks on the 17-track-long First Rays of the New Rising Sun that one got a true and mostly satisfying picture of the guitarist’s ever changing musical vision at the time, which struck a more serious tone lyrically and incorporated newer sounds to his repertoire.

13 years later, the newest versions of First Rays, an mp3/digital edition available via online stores such as ScatterTunes, plus a CD+DVD edition out this spring do not exactly enhance the actual sound – not that it’s needed with all the previous remastering over the years. But the former is more convenient for the current digital music age, while the latter contains a viewing experience that does enhance and make you appreciate the audio portion a little more via a new companion 20-minute DVD documentary of the making of this “concept compilation.”

Read more here.

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