Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Music of the Week – May 28, 2006

Jimi Hendrix: First Rays of the New Rising Sun

A couple of years ago something or other sparked me to listen to Jimi Hendrix for the first time in quite a few years, and I realized why guitar players still hold him in something close to awe. Looking a bit further afield than the few studio albums he released during his lifetime, I decided to spring for this posthumous collection, which AMG rates with his completed work. It’s not bad at all, but I have to say it’s something of a disappointment.

There’s plenty of good guitar playing here (how could there not be?), but it seems to me to lack the fire and intensity of his best work. This may be a result of the production, which seems a bit slicker than really suits Hendrix—possibly an unfair criticism, since these tracks were never meant to be released as they are. The bigger problem is that for all his genius as a guitarist Hendrix just wasn’t that great a songwriter, and it really shows here. Too many of these songs consist of a more or less tuneless vocal line over riffs which may be interesting but aren’t as powerful and memorable as his great ones, such as “Purple Haze.” If you ask me, the real treasure chest of posthumous Hendrix is the 1994 release Blues. I wrote something about it here.

Grade: C+

Labels: ,