Hendrix Heresy

Cosmic
Heyyyy baby

Allow me to indulge in a bit of heresy. I’m all about the sacred album format. I don’t like tinkering with track-listings, running orders and I don’t shuffle. If I’m in a social situation I’ll pick out favourite tracks to play but that’s about it. But here we have Jimi Hendrix’ First Rays of the New Rising Sun. It’s one of many posthumous collections of Hendrix’s final recordings but it’s an important one. Assembled by Hendrix associate/producer/engineer Eddie Kramer, it purports to be as close to the double album Hendrix was planning as is possible, based on Eddie’s insider knowledge, Jimi’s notes and the like.

But it’s a frustrating album.

Heresy No. 1: there are quite a few songs on this that are guff. Sleepy workouts like Izabella and goofy twaddle like Astro Man. It was a fun album when I first picked it up in the late 90s but over time the gulf between the great tracks and the ropey ones has only grown and it’s hard for me to listen to this front to back. I usually end up giving up. Which means killer tracks from the album’s latter half (like In From the Storm) have not reached my ears for too many years.

Heresy No. 2: this album works much better with a bit of pruning. And on Friday I did just that. Kramer and Hendrix… move over and let HMO take over! My reimagined First Rays of the New Rising Sun now goes:

Freedom/Night Bird Flying/Angel/Room Full of Mirrors/Ezy Ryder/Drifting/Stepping Stone/Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/In From the Storm

Nine tracks. Thirty-six minutes. Sounds like a full album to me. And… it’s divine. I loved every second of it and it made me feel like I was listening to Jimi for the first time. No mean feat considering I’ve felt some very real Hendrix-fatigue in recent years. As Little Richard would say, it made my big toe shoot up in my boot! And the best of it is, I just wanted to go right back to the start and play it all again.

Ultimately, this is a bunch of my very favourite Hendrix tunes, finally liberated from the shackles of dull and sleepy filler tracks.

It’s been an interesting, enjoyable departure from my usual worship of the album form. What do you think? Ever had any albums you’ve needed to prune like this or is the very idea unthinkable?

[Jimi Hendrix – In From the Storm]

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96 thoughts on “Hendrix Heresy”

  1. Yes! Man, I remember buying this album and being distraught over how rotten it was. Especially after the claims that it was the last album, rather than a collection of songs.

    Sadly, I moved this on a long time ago … don’t so much as have a digital copy anymore, so I can’t go listen. If I can pick it up cheap I’ll set up the HMO version!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Marvellous! Is there a vinyl edition? 😉

        Seriously though, I remember after a few tracks I was looking at the speakers, the CD box, then the speakers, back at the CD, and thinking “hold up! What’s going on here!?”

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It wasn’t long after it was released … was that 97, aye? There were two of them. This was the better of the two from what I can remember!

        I don’t listen to Hendrix an awfy lot anymore, but I still dig Axis and Electric Ladyland a whole lot.

        In fact, you’ve made me want to listen to some Hendrix!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup that’s about the same time I got it. I think there was another one… South Saturn Delta maybe? I only got this one though.

        I’ve not been listening to him much either. I got a box set last year thinking it might have given me some fresh ears but it didn’t work. This did though! Most I’ve enjoyed him for ages.

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      3. That’s the other one – he’s on a Harley or something on the front? Terrible.

        Is that box just the ‘original’ albums? I mind seeing a bunch of deluxe editions were released a few years back …

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah probably. It’s quite well thought out, got key live tracks on it and stuff. If I’d bought it back when it first came out (about ’00 I think) I’d have probably loved it. But I don’t think I’m in enough of a Hendrix mood these days to appreciate it properly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No heresy here. Hendrix isn’t untouchable, no matter what those who would say such an opinion is blasphemous might say. That he recorded so much greatness blinds people to the truth that he also recorded a bit of twaddle now and again, it was inevitable.

    I’ve never owned this album, but I love how you broke it down to a single record of the best stuff. Lots of double albums could do with a pruning like that. Remove the bloat and hone it in to the best stuff.

    Well-played!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks! I’m with you, I’ve never felt he was untouchable. I reckon my feeling of heresy was more about fiddling with the album. It’s not something I usually do! It feels… naughty! But there’s so much twaddle and bloat here it had to be done.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved this! Well done Scott. There have been too many posthumous Hendrix albums that purport to be as close as possible to the “way Jimi would have wanted it.” I think I’d prefer collecting the old original posthumous albums like War Stories etc!

    Move over rover indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think as the posthumous ones go this is pretty useful. There were a few before this that had parts rerecorded which I don’t like either… I like this one for authenticity. Just not all the songs.

      Cry of Love is an older one I quite liked but it’s missing some great songs and has a few crap ones. At least this one has all the tracks I like!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh man, there’s been tons hasn’t there? I’ve stayed clear. This was one of the first releases on the “Experience Hendrix” label I think. When his family won back the rights. Releasing live stuff is cool but all these outtakes etc… it starts to get a bit desperate. I think this is maybe as good as they get. But it’s still patchy… he hadn’t even finished most of this stuff. There’s a bit in Hey Baby where he says “Is the microphone on?”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rich mentioned Voodoo Soup…another one from this period. At one point have we reached the album that is closest to Jimi’s vision? I don’t know. Nobody does but I’d put Eddie Kramer close.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed this Scott.
    How about this: if it is an existing album, issued by the artist during their creative lifespan, then selecting tracks is a valid listener choice but doesn’t change the meaning of the artist’s original choices. For posthumous material, do whatever you like that brings musical pleasure and appreciation; your choice is as valid as anyone else’s.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s a good way of looking at it. Difficult to do with vinyl though eh? I was recently tempted by Cry of Love on vinyl but the thought of having to endure Belly Button Window again put me right off!

      Next up: Led Zep Heresy! Now, where to begin…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I had a friend who used to reorder the tracks when listening to certain albums and it always caught me out. Whenever I asked why he’d simply say “I prefer it”. How he could claim to know, or enjoy, any of those albums is another conversation.

      Posthumous collections or ‘hits’ compilations are open to that type of customisation I reckon. Cause they’re not created as a statement or a single piece of art or whatever … like you say, it’s open for the listener to do what works for them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely. You know, I never really liked compilations or best-ofs much. I like box sets better cause they usually have rare songs etc… but “Greatest Hits” and stuff like that… I tend not to bother much with them. I even tried putting together playlists on Spotify of stuff where I maybe just like one song or whatever but… I could never be arsed listening to them! I just tend to gravitate to albums. Maybe my Hendrix experiment will change that?

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      2. I have two ‘best of’ collections, but also tend not to bother with such things. Both had previously unreleased stuff and one (Stone Temple Pilots’ Thank You) has a rather spiffy bonus DVD. Reckon there’s a place for them, though. Compilations. Especially when the artist doesn’t have a strong catalogue, but has a bunch of good tracks. Then you go make that a collection of your favourites!

        … I also have the Van Halen Best of Both Worlds. But I don’t bother with the Hagar stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think in the age of Spotify I’m even less likely to indulge in comps. If I just want to hear a particular track it’s there. But comps as an intro to a band rarely work for me. They rarely do a good band justice, usually the opposite. I reckon you’d have more time for Van Hagar if you picked up 5150 instead of listening to that comp!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Reckon so, Bruce. There are a few albums that I think “if only that track wasn’t there”, but I’ve never cut said tracks. Probably would if it was an artist and album I wasn’t all that fussed about!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Looks like some good pruning, Hendrix is not untouchable. So much of the posthumous releases are just not that good, and I include the live stuff, there are some moments but it is a bit over the top, perhaps you can prune the other releases and come up with a double CD/Cassette of what is best to hear. I would purchase that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve steered clear of a lot of them but I’d love to know if there’s any must hear tracks you can recommend?

      I don’t know if I’m just imagining it but the stuff I picked here seems more “finished” (Hey Baby excepted) than the other tracks which seem more like jams or workouts. But then I tend to steer away from the funkier stuff so it’s maybe just a question of taste.

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  6. Great piece. I was just thinking the same thing on Saturday listening to The Police’s ‘Ghost In The Machine’ – it’s got probably their best ever work on there (the singles plus ‘Secret Journey’ and a few others) but also their most tedious ‘jams’ with lots of slightly out-of-tune Andy Summers guitar solos… Would have made a brilliant half-hour album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool. Interestingly, they’re one of the only bands where I’ve just settled for owning a greatest hits. Always wondered if I should be digging in any further.

      There’s so many tracks from the 80s that I like but that don’t really compel me to dig in to albums though. Any time I try to come up with a comp or a playlist it’s always 80s pop stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting, and know what you mean, the ’80s does seem to be more of a pop singles decade than many others.

        Btw, I’d forgotten that ‘Angel’ was on ‘New Rays’… Probably my all-time favourite Jimi track. Love ‘Freedom’ too for a bit of funk/rock stylee.

        Police stuff for further investigation? Must admit, I love all of ’em except ‘Ghost’ and the debut ‘Outlandos’, but there are admittedly a fair share of mediocre Copeland/Summers tracks even on the good ‘uns! ‘Regatta’ is probably a great place to start though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Angel is possible my top Hendrix tune too. A lot of the ones I picked here are actually. Freedom, Drifting and Ezy Ryder would all be in my top Jimi tunes for sure.

        Actually I just remembered I got a 2nd hand LP of a Police album but had forgotten all about it! I think it was Regatta so I’ll need to look that out.

        Also, was listening to the first It Bites album today and remembered you were a fan! I’ve not listened to it often but it went down very well today. Needed something cheery after a shiter at work!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well-edited, even though I like this collection as is. If I remember correctly, a lot of these songs had previously been compiled on CD as “Voodoo Soup” and I really liked that as well. One day I’ll have to A/B them to see which one holds up better, and then I’ll use your track listing as a third option.

    For a long time I thought the CD format was created for the sole intention of being able to easily skip the Yoko Ono songs on the Lennon/Ono album “Double Fantasy,” since they alternated tracks on that album and you couldn’t avoid her songs while playing the record. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate her contributions to that record (and the posthumous Milk And Honey), but taking all the Lennon songs from those two records is a much more enjoyable listening experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awesome Rich, I was hoping you’d chip in on this. Now, Voodoo Soup… I read that was one that had parts re-recorded and stuff. not sure how I feel about that. An A/B would be interesting. Let me know! And I think Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge both had the tracks from this as well didn’t they?

      I did have a lot of time for this one when it was first released. But over the years I’ve found some of it has just really gotten stale. I just want to skip to the favourites. I reckon my selection is the way to go but I’d still recommend this whole album to Hendrix newbies looking for the later material.

      And Lennon/Yoko… that’s a great example! Not heard it myself though but that’s an interesting example. Were some of Cheap Trick not involved with that album at some point?

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      1. Not sure about the parts being re-recorded for Voodoo Soup. I thought that was the case for Cry Of Love and Rainbow Bridge, though. I believe Voodoo Soup was released by MCA without the approval of the Hendrix Estate, so First Rays… was their way of getting those songs released in an order they believe Hendrix would have wanted. I’m basing this on things I read 15-20 years ago so I could be completely wrong.

        Yep, Lennon recorded at least one & possibly a few songs with Cheap Trick as he worked on Double Fantasy, but if my memory is correct none of them appeared on the album. At least one of those recordings, “I’m Losing You,” did show up on a Lennon rarities CD (a legit release, not a bootleg) and it was smokin’.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read that Voodoo Soup had a lot of parts added or replaced. Mainly drums for some reason, the drummer from The Knack! Not sure about Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge. Considering most this stuff was unfinished I suppose a bit of tinkering is to be expected!

        “I’m Losing You”! That’s the one I’m thinking of. I think I’ve got a version of CT doing that live somewhere.

        Like

  8. I think there’s added credibility to your compilation, given that you wouldn’t be a frequent album editor.
    It’s sort of like the teacher who never yells – if that teacher yells, people react, whoa, we need to fix this!
    So if HMO edits, it sounds like it was called for!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The only album’s track-listing I’ve ever tinkered with is Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes. (This is excluding bonus tracks and the like…)

    Over at their website, I read somewhere, many years ago, that “Real Eyes, Real Lies, Realize” was meant as INTRO track. This got me thinkin’ and ah-tinkerin’…Here’s my final track-list:

    1. Real Eyes, Real Lies, Realize
    2. Block
    3. The Rage To Overcome
    4. None But My Own
    5. A Nation On Fire
    6. A Thousand Lies
    7. Old
    8. Blood For Blood
    9. Death Church
    10. I’m Your God Now
    11. Davidian

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nick reminded me that I have done this once. Extreme II Pornograffiti. I used Audacity to put “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” and Nuno’s “Bumble Bee (Crash Landing)” together in one seamless track. That is the way they were supposed to go, apparently, so I decided to give it a whirl. So that is the way I listen to it now, and it’s interesting because it goes right into “He Man Woman Hater” from there.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Maybe an obscure choice, but I owned a Beach Boys bootleg from the ’76 sessions known as Adult Child, right after the recording of the released Love You. I noticed that half of the tracks are ballads, while the other half rather up-tempo. They were all mixed together, so I decided to do a playlist where I would group all the up-tempo tracks on Side 1 and all the ballads on Side 2. It sort of became The Beach Boys Today – which has the same format if you’re familiar, only the 70s version.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry, just saw your Beach Boys post and I realised I had totally forgot to reply to you! My bad. Totally clueless when it comes to The Beach Boys I’m afraid but this is some deep fan activity by the sounds of it. Quite a few bands have employed that rockers/ballads split since then too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. About track order… Queensrÿche wanted The Warning(1984) to start off with NM156 instead of Warning, the lead track. That makes a much better story telling experience by building suspension with its artificial life scanning, the semi-mechanical semi horse hoof sploshing, synthetic(s) work, electrified emphatic fucking great heart beating bass line and the robotic alien overlord spoken word intro. Anyway, after I read the band’s track order preference on there webpage circa 2012, I like the album better. One of my favorite art experiences! From Wikipedia: The album’s original track sequence and sound mix that the band had approved, was changed by mix engineer Val Garay under orders from EMI-America, against the wishes of the band.[4][6][7] This original intended sequence is identical to the final track listing but with the following exceptions: “N M 156” as the opening song and “Warning” as the second to last track, displacing “Child of Fire”. The band first learned of this in August 1984, while on tour in Japan.[4]
    1. “N M 156” DeGarmo, Tate, Wilton 4:35
    2. “En Force” DeGarmo 5:13
    3. “Deliverance” Wilton 3:17
    4. “No Sanctuary” DeGarmo, Tate 6:02
    5. “Take Hold of the Flame” DeGarmo, Tate 4:54
    6. “Before the Storm” Tate, Wilton 4:27
    7. “Child of Fire” Tate, Wilton 5:17
    8. “Warning” Tate, Wilton 4:43
    9. “Roads to Madness” DeGarmo, Tate, Wilton 9:38

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow. I didn’t know any of this! It’s a great album but always had a feeling that it could have been better. I’d put that down to the sound but maybe it’s this too? I’m definitely going to try listening to it this way. I’ll let you know how I get on!

      Liked by 1 person

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