Friday, June 7, 2013

Jimi Hendrix 14: South Saturn Delta

While First Rays Of The New Rising Sun attempted to present the final word on Jimi’s last work, that wasn’t to say the family was finished with theirs. As had happened in the previous decades, a handful of albums presented rare or unreleased material, culled from a multitude of sessions with all of his bands, in order to portray him as a well-rounded musician.
The first of these was South Saturn Delta, taking its name from a jazzy instrumental, complete with horn section. It’s a bold choice to make it a centerpiece, but apt when taken alongside the odd selection of alternates and outtakes. “Angel” appears twice, once in a studio jam with Mitch Mitchell labeled “Little Wing”, and then again in a more precise home demo. An alternate mix of “All Along The Watchtower” supposedly features Brian Jones more prominently, but nothing stands out as being revelatory.
That said, “Here He Comes (Lover Man)” is an expansion of his amped-up arrangement of “Rock Me Baby” as heard at Monterey, and while it’s apparently a composite of four takes, it’s still six minutes of fun. “Power Of Soul” and “Message To The Universe” present studio versions of Band Of Gypsys tunes, the former rescued from its Crash Landing alteration. Even more surprising is “Midnight Lightning”, a completely solo take.
At its best, South Saturn Delta helps to mop up some of the stray tracks from the ‘70s posthumous albums, providing a new home for such nuggets as “Look Over Yonder”, “Pali Gap”, “Tax Free”, “Midnight” and “The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice”. So it’s a decent companion to First Rays, which had only come out six months before. And half of the album is basically the original Experience, adding to the diversity. While schizophrenic, it’s nice to have, and stayed in print when the distribution rights changed yet again.

Jimi Hendrix South Saturn Delta (1997)—4

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