First Rays Of The New Rising Sun is the album that Jimi Hendrix was working on at the time of his death.  His intention was to create a double album much like Electric Ladyland.  This album represents the complete departure of Chas Chandler who was present on some of the Electric Ladyland work.  While Jimi did not authorize this album and certainly had much more work to make his vision a reality, Experience Hendrix did an excellent job of putting it together in manner close to what Jimi may have envisioned.Jimi Hendrix First Rays Of The New Rising Sun

This review is done on the 2010 remastered reissue which comes with a bonus DVD.

  1. Freedom – A song about what else? Freedom. Excellent guitar work with a lively guitar riff that’s funky.  Background vocals make the course more robust and accent Jimi’s vocals.  A nice solo compliments the song.
  2. Izabella – Space invader type sounds help set the mood for the song.  A grinding guitar lick sounds awesome and works perfectly with Jimi’s emotion filled vocals.  Background vocals give the song a party type feel.  A shrieking solo filled with Jimi’s signature grit works well with the song.
  3. Night Bird Flying – Like I’ve found in a couple other Jimi Hendrix songs, this song has a hint of The Guess Who sound on the guitar work.  The guitar is commanding and the champion of the song.  Jimi’s vocals are strong and smooth.
  4. Angel – A beautiful love ballad by Jimi.  Excellent drum work by Mitch Mitchel guide the song well.  Jimi’s guitar has a flange effect on it and his vocals are soft and caressing to the song.  The course is emotional and innocent.  A complimentary solo brings the song to a smooth end.
  5. Room Full Of Mirrors – A up-tempo song with a searing guitar riff get the song off to a fast start.  Jimi’s vocals are strong.  Jimi’s lead licks throughout are some of his best and make the song rock.  Jimi’s guitar is ripping and gives the track his signature tone and sound.  The guitar sounds throughout tear into your ear drums.  The song is closed with distant drums and a faint guitar.
  6. Dolly Dagger – One of the shining songs on the album and certainly one of my favorites.  This song has everything you need to make a smoking rock song that sounds good anywhere including the radio.  The course is catchy as is the guitar riff.  Jimi’s guitar work is as good as ever and his solo really shines and works the track over.
  7. Ezy Ryder – The song starts with a glockenspiel and a searing guitar which then transitions into an extremely groovin’ guitar riff.  Jimi’s vocals are strong and flowing.  Jimi’s guitar licks throughout keep the song moving and rockin’.  Another one of the radio friendly songs on the album and a classic.  You’re faked out at the end of the song when it seems like it’s ending, comes back to life for a split second, and then ends.
  8. Drifting – A soft composition with Jimi’s vocals being the main performer.  Flange style guitar softly accents this slow song and Jimi’s smooth R&B vocals.  The drums are soft and complimentary.  Jimi’s experimentation with backwards guitar sounds is evident in places.  The soothing guitar takes over and guides the listener for a substantial time during the song where once again, backwards guitar is present.
  9. Beginnings – An all out jam tune.  The glockenspiel and a rugged guitar riff get the song moving right from the start.  Mitch Mitchel provides excellent moving drums and congas are also present.  This song has no vocals but doesn’t suffer as a result, the band make their instruments come alive.  Jimi’s guitar work is continuous which makes the song standout.
  10. Stepping Stone – Jimi’s upbeat dialog and fast moving guitar riff get the song off to a popping start.  Jimi’s vocals follow the guitar riff which creates a harmonious sound.  The guitar solo’s are are wavy and woven perfectly in the stops and breaks between vocals. The course projects strength and the instruments help with that projection.  Jimi’s guitar overdubs are numerous and give the song a full, complete sound.
  11. My Friend – This song was recorded well before this album was being worked on and may not have been included on the final album.  Jimi’s own handwritten tracklists make no mention of this song.  However, this song is actually one of my favorite Jimi Hendrix tracks.  It’s a soft, bluesy song with Jimi providing relaxed and groove filled vocals.  Sound effects of bottle clicking together from toasts are present throughout the song as is party chatter which gives the song that party feel.  One of Jimi’s best.
  12. Straight Ahead – The First Rays Of The New Rising Sun album was tentatively titled Straight Ahead prior to the current album title being chosen.  This means that Straight Ahead would have been the title track had the original title stuck.  Jimi’s guitar work is fast yet bluesy as a result of Jimi’s perfect finger rolls.  A song about keeping moving along in life.  Head bobbing solo work keeps you tangled up in the song.  Interesting breaks filled with Jimi’s finger rolls add depth to the song.
  13. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) – The title track from the album.  Murky, deep guitar is present the first minute of the song and then morphs into a bit lighter guitar riff.  The guitar work is full of blues and you can sense Jimi’s emotional connection to this song in his guitar work.  2:15 into the song, you finally hear Jimi say “is the microphone on?” prior to unleashing his blues filled vocals.  The course has a more up-tempo sound to it.  Jimi’s main guitar riff pumps the listener up with excitement.  The song fades slowly out.
  14. Earth Blues – The song starts with a strong, driving guitar riff providing a fast moving track.  Jimi’s vocals work well with the song and the background vocals add much life to the song.  The course is catchy and as a result is one of my favorite songs on the album.  The song concludes with some signature Jimi guitar effects and some chatter.
  15. Astro Man – A super hero based song which is evident from the beginning when Jimi starts the song singing “Here I come to save the day” which is cool.  The guitar work grooves well and provides an upbeat foundation for the vocals.  Jimi’s guitar solo is powerful and shows his ability to ride a song well with his guitar.
  16. In From The Storm – This song starts with a mid tempo rock riff and Jimi belting out strong lyrics supplemented by soulful backup vocals.  Jimi’s guitar work is effect driven and adds a rockish twang to the song.  A little more than half way through the song, the tempo picks up and continues to rock.  Jimi’s use of the whammy bar is present in the song.  A song about coming back to a lover.
  17. Belly Button Window – A rougher sounding song about an unborn baby looking out at the world.  This guitar is homegrown and slow in tempo.  Jimi’s vocals and guitar stand together.  There are no drums which reflects the unfinished state of this song.  However, Jimi did take the time to overdub his signature guitar licks to compliment the main guitar rhythm.  Searing guitar licks stand out while Jimi surely would have done more guitar work before deeming this song complete.

The Extras…

The DVD…

The DVD clocks in at a little over 16 minutes.  While it’s a short DVD, it’s also well rounded and offers tons of insight into the background of the album and how the band worked together.  There are interviews with Eddie Kramer, Jimi’s engineer, Billy Cox, and Mitch Mitchell discussing how they worked together.

The Booklet…

The booklet has a bunch of great pictures of Jimi and the band.  A nice feature is a substantial editorial on each song giving background information, origin information, and additional info on each individual song.  A great booklet.

Conclusion

Sure, this album certainly isn’t as polished as the others but it is close.  My Friend would most likely not have been included on the album but I can’t really complain about that as it’s one of my favorite songs on the album.  I give this album 4.5 solid stars taking off a half star for the unpolished or unfinished nature of some of the songs…

4.5 Stars Chris Elliott Rated

Amazon has this CD/DVD set pretty cheap.  You can order through the Amazon link below and Amazon will kick me back a few cents if you found this review helpful…

Until the next review,

Chris Elliott Signature

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2 Comments on Jimi Hendrix – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun Review

  1. Evan says:

    Nice review…I love this album…it’s one of my favorites. Keep up the great posting!

    • Thanks Evan. I just posted reviews of the complete 4 disc box set released on 2000 as well. I’m working toward finishing up the entire Jimi Hendrix discography also.

      Chris

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