Hendrix Returns: From Valleys of Neptune to West Coast Seattle Boy

West Coast Seattle Boy – The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, featuring more than four hours of rare and previously unreleased Jimi Hendrix music on a 5 Disc (4 CD/1 DVD) is the first big box from the new Sony deal with Experience Hendrix. Previously Universal Music had a beautiful velvet 4 CD box in 2000 entitled simply The Jimi Hendrix Experience ( I’ll have to pull out my article on the making of that from Replication News back in the day and share it). The original Uni package was the first enormous project to take another look at Jimi’s commercial recordings…and while coupled with the Legacy/Sony November 16 box (though these two multi-disc packages are the true “official” look at Jimi in the same way that Eric Clapton’s Crossroads opened doors for the boxed set as a format)there were actually two compilations on Jimi prior to these landmark Experience Hendrix re-issues.

Alan Douglas released Lifelines: The Jimi Hendrix Story (Reprise), a 5 CD set in 1991 which featured the rare Buzzy Linhart/Al Kooper version of “Like A Rolling Stone” (though the narrator ends up placing the performance at the wrong New York club) and in 1996 Ed Chalpin released a 6 CD PPX Recordings – the Curtis Knight material. For we purists/historians all four of these sets are an invaluable look at the genius of Jimi and essential components of our respective Hendrix libraries.

Now when one also factors in the Purple Haze Records label out of the U.K. which was releasing the Yameta product (it gets very confusing, even with many of the CDs staring me in the face on my shelf), well, sifting through it all and giving a critique is one part of the job, the other is figuring out if these tracks actually surfaced on bootlegs or the “unofficial” labels that acted like they were official…it’s a huge task. But in the end, the fans do benefit as Experience Hendrix issues these wonderful releases which only add to the fun of exploring where we may have heard these tracks (if, indeed, we ever heard them) and how they fit into the context of Jimi’s recorded work.

Thus, I’ve had Disc 4 playing endlessly, just randomly pulling it from the envelope…and it is stunningly wonderful. Seventy three minutes and two seconds of newly remastered old tapes with a shimmering 14:46 minute version of “Stone Free” recorded live (keep in mind, TMRZoo reviewed Valleys of Neptune in March of 2010, the first Sony/Legacy release with a Traffic-styled rendition of “Stone Free”). “Sunshine Of Your Love” is tucked inside this long jam session, one of Jimi’s fave riffs it seems…and there’s yet another “Hey Baby” (New Rising Sun)” included which adds to that mesmerizing songs legacy …tons of great stuff on this jam packed disc. I could go track by track…but take my word for it…CD #4 is highly listenable and exciting. There are three more discs and a DVD to cover so let this article stand as Part 1. To be continued….

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.