Album: Jimi Hendrix, Valleys Of Neptune (Sony/Experience Hendrix)

Valleys Of Neptune is the opening salvo of what we're promised is a "monumental" 2010 Hendrix Catalogue Project, involving various CD/DVD reissues of the original studio albums and, doubtless, several more ransackings of the tape vaults like this.

Heralded as representing the foundations for the follow-up to Electric Ladyland, all that Valleys Of Neptune confirms is that by this late stage of his career, Jimi was effectively a spent force creatively. Why else would he bother to re-record studio takes of "Fire" and "Red House" again, two years after their appearance on his debut album? Or record a blues jam such as "Hear My Train Comin'" which borrowed so much from "Voodoo Chile" to such inferior ends? These are surely just warm-ups, just as the likes of "Stone Free" and Elmore James's "Bleeding Heart" are rehearsals to help "bed in" Band Of Gypsys bassist Billy Cox. As for the new material such as "Crying Blue Rain", "Ships Passing Through The Night", "Lullaby For The Summer" and "Valleys Of Neptune" itself, they sound like structural sketches, nondescript half-ideas that werenever developed. The early Experience try-out "Mr Bad Luck" is of little musical interest, while "Fire" and "Red House" offer the most compelling performances.

Download this Fire; Red House; Stone Free