Well here it is the last review in the set of reissues from the Hendrix catalog. I am sure there will be more opportunities in the future with the wealth of music that is continually getting uncovered from the Hendrix estate.
First Rays Of The New Rising Sun is making its debut fully re-mastered from the master tapes for the very first time. The end result is a staggering array of music and guitar techniques displayed by the legendary Hendrix. Previously this music came out piece meal via the albums The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge in 1971 and finally in another incarnation in 1972 as War Heroes. These issues only grazed the surface and where incomplete collections. Finally we have the last recording sessions at Electric Ladyland re-mastered beautifully all on one CD. I remember picking up Cry of Love on vinyl in the early 70’s, I wish I would have held on to that LP, it is now very rare and was selling for hundreds of dollars at one point but I am not sure with the advent of this collection that still applies.
Besides the 17 awesome tracks on this set we again get to enjoy the documentary “An Inside Look” with Eddie Kramer. Kramer takes you through some of the recording processes and breaks it all down just as he did on the previous releases with “Dolly Dagger”, “Angel”, “Night Bird Flying” and “Freedom”. The added bonus is you get some great live footage snippets of Hendrix performing songs live like the funky “Dolly Dagger”, which was always one of my favorites.
The re-mastering of these tracks brings a new life to the sound of Hendrix and his band. I found listening to this set was even more jaw dropping than the other three sets. Although the others were equally outstanding musically, this set of tracks sounds more vibrant and today than any I have ever heard before. I think the main reason is because Hendrix changed the configuration of his band bringing in Billy Cox on bass to replace Noel Redding, thereby changing the entire chemistry of the group and pushing Jimi to create more expansively. Jimi was obviously more in a groove with Cox as his anchor man and even Mitch Mitchell (drums) felt this was the best band he played in to date. This is also noted by Kramer on the DVD commenting how Jimi laid down tracks for four different guitar parts and made it all come together somehow on “Night Bird Flying”, the first cut Kramer and Hendrix created from scratch at Electric Ladyland. Kramer also said this was the reason he never played it live, because it was such a complex piece of music.
Nobody knew where the man was coming from or where he was going, they all just followed and it fell together. I am sure everyone that was involved with the evolution of Hendrix in the studio is grateful to have witnessed a genius at work and watched in amazement as each track came together. From the moment you give this CD its first spin and “Freedom” kicks in, I guarantee you will be spellbound just as you were the first time you heard it. This time it will all sound refreshing and new even though it was all recorded between 1968 and 1970. I suggest getting this entire set and anything else you can get your hands on that you have not heard before from Hendrix.
Key Tracks: Freedom, Night Bird Flying, Angel
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 18, 2010