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BBC – Music – Review of Jimi Hendrix

Written by on October 17, 2020

The battle for the soul and spirit of Jimi Hendrix continues undiminished.

The problem with Jimi is that he never stopped making music – he left behind an estimated 1,500 hours of material when he died in September 1970.

The irony is, of course, that Hendrix died so young – he didn’t even make it to 30 – that his legacy was built upon just four albums that he released in his lifetime.

This is the 12th official studio set released since Hendrix’s death. The last, 2010’s Valleys of Neptune, proved his appeal hadn’t waned: it charted top 30 in the UK, and reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 stateside.

The very nature of Hendrix’s approach to recording was due in large part to the fact that, having his own studio, he was not at the mercy of a record label. This freedom produced his amazing archive.

Inevitably, much of the material that has subsequently surfaced is made up of studio jams – but when you are dealing with a guitarist of such stature, even jams can be a revelation.

Hendrix’s music was rooted in the blues, as demonstrated here by Hear My Train a Coming’ and Bleeding Heart. On Somewhere, a previously unreleased cut from 1968 with long-time Jimi fan Stephen Stills on bass, the sheer fluency of Hendrix’s playing is breathtaking.

A jam with saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood is also enjoyable, and equally welcome is the inclusion of original versions of songs that are more familiar in posthumous versions with overdubs and editing.

While the debate still rages about where his muse might have taken him next, few would question Hendrix’s place in the pantheon of rock greats – after all, Miles Davis didn’t offer to play with just anyone.

No one knows for certain, but this latest collection offers a tantalising glimpse of how Hendrix’s genius might have progressed.

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