It’s not everyday you get a “new” album from late rock icon Jimi Hendrix. But Valleys of Neptune is as close as you’re going to get. This is the first in an ambitious schedule of releases by the new partnership between the Hendrix estate and Sony/Legacy. It’s billed as “a newly curated album of 12 fully realized studio recordings,” and though many of the tracks have been often bootlegged before, none have been previously issued commercially. Some may question whether they’re “fully realized”; the album kicks off with a 1969 version of “Stone Free,” with bassist Billy Cox replacing original Experience member Noel Redding, that sounds incomplete—more like a studio demo than a fleshed-out track. The title track, recorded shortly before Hendrix’s death in 1970, features Cox, drummer Mitch Mitchell, and percussionist Juma Sultan. A 1969 recording of “Hear My Train a Comin’,” which has appeared on several live Hendrix albums, uses the original Experience lineup. Other original Experience studio outtakes include “Red House,” 1967’s bluesy “Mr. Bad Luck,” and 1969 recordings of “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Lover Man,” “Ships Passing Through the Night” (the blueprint for “Night Bird Flying”), and the intriguing slow blues instrumental “Crying Blue Rain.”
Nothing revelatory here, but still a strong set of remastered Hendrix outtakes in first-rate sound.