Monday, January 11, 2010

Thoughts On New Jimi Hendrix Material

Although I'm not as impressed with him as I was when his music was new and fresh to me, I'm still a fan of guitar hero Jimi Hendrix.  Today's news that Jimi's estate will release an album of mostly previously-unreleased material was a surprise to me.  Pleasant or unpleasant?  That's what I'm here to explain.

Of course, we know these recordings will be interesting.  But will they be any good?  Hendrix only released three studio albums and one live album in his short career.  Everything else is either incomplete, a demo, or a not-intended-for-release live version.  This means that only the three studio albums and Band Of Gypsys consist of music that Jimi wanted people to hear.  All other releases can be considered works-in-progress.

Posthumous releases are always touchy.  On one hand, it's fascinating to hear new-to-you material.  On the other hand, you can only dig so deep in the vaults before you hit the bottom.  I think some of the Jeff Buckley releases are proving that point true. 

Will I buy this new compilation?  Perhaps, but perhaps not.  It will not be too high on my list.  There are a few Hendrix releases I still want to buy.  If I get this new one, I will buy it when I get around to it. 

As for the re-releases of the studio albums -- is this really necessary?  They were done quite well during the late 1990s.  The liner notes for most of them are very informative and beautiful.  I wasn't too impressed with the liners for Electric Ladyland and I'd be tempted to buy a new version of the album if those were done right.  I'd be even more likely to buy it if they got rid of the extreme panning and fading that I found really distracting.  Otherwise, I don't feel a need to buy new versions of these albums.  They were done right before.

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