By Calvin Palmer
One of my favorite rock tracks of all time is All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix. Even to this day, it still has the same excitement and vitality as when it first burst over the airwaves in 1968.
The track, written by Bob Dylan, appeared on Hendrix’s seminal album Electric Ladyland and, when released as a single, reached #5 in the UK charts and #20 in the Billboard chart in the U.S.
Guitar World ranked All Along The Watchtower #5 in its list of 100 Greatest Guitar solos. It was bested only by Dave Gilmour’s Comfortably Numb (1979); Jacksonville heroes Allen Collins and Gary Rossington on Lynryd Skynrd’s Free Bird (1973); Edward Van Halen’s Eruption (1978); and Jimmy Page’s Stairway to Heaven (1971).
Good guitarists as those guys may well be, or in Collins’ case were – he died in 1990 — not one of them could come within a million miles of Hendrix’s style, virtuosity and innovative genius. It is worth noting that the tracks ahead of Hendrix in Guitar World’s ranking all came after All Along The Watchtower was released.
The genius of Hendrix was sadly short-lived. He died at the age of 27 on September 18, 1970, in mysterious circumstances that have never been fully explained.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death, a 12-track album of previously unreleased material will go on sale in March.
Valleys of Neptune, features the final studio sessions of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience line-up — Mitch Mitchell on drums and bass player Noel Redding, although three of the tracks feature Redding’s replacement Billy Cox.
The album includes covers of Sunshine of Your Love by Cream, Bleeding Heart by Elmore James, plus original tracks Lullaby of Summer and Red House. The earliest song on the album, Mr Bad Luck, dates from 1967.
Most of the songs were recorded in 1969 at London’s Olympic Studios and New York’s Record Plant. The recordings have been digitally restored to bring the sound quality up to modern standards.
Janie Hendrix, the guitarist’s sister and manager of his estate, said: “Valleys of Neptune offers deep insight into his mastery of the recording process and demonstrates the fact that he was as unparalleled a recording innovator as he was a guitarist. His brilliance shines through on every one of these precious tracks.”
The album will be out on March 8. The title track will be released as a single on February 2.
[Based on a report by the Press Association.]