Classic Rock Review

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Jimi Hendrix South Saturn Delta (1997)

JIMI-HENDRIX-SOUTH-SATURN-DELTA-STICKER-s4318From crying-blue-rain-hendrix.blogspot.co.uk

News Release: “Also coming is the reissue of 1997’s South Saturn Delta which features selections from the initial — and long out of print — ’70s Hendrix collections Rainbow Bridge, War Heroes, and Loose Ends. The album is notable for including tracks from all of Hendrix’s bands — including both versions of the Experience, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows, and the Band Of Gypsys. South Saturn Delta will be released on CD, digital download, and double-12-inch vinyl.”

Since the Experience Hendrix posthumous compilation South Saturn Delta is about to be re-released on CD & vinyl I thought I’d take a look back at this underrated and often overlooked album.

Originally released in fall 1997, SSD was the second “new” compilation disc released by the new administrators of the Hendrix estate (Janie Hendrix and co.). I remember being thrilled by the release and couldn’t wait to hear it. Since it featured tracks from the long deleted Rainbow Bridge, War Heroes and Loose Ends plus other rarities. I thought the album cover was corny and hated the title. But the music inside was all that mattered.

SSD wasn’t critically acclaimed and didn’t sell that well. Blender Magazine listed it as one of the official Hendrix albums to “be careful” of because it was so uneven musically. However, I’m glad Sony/Legacy is reissuing it because it contains some indispensable material unavailable anywhere else.

LOOK OVER YONDER
The average music fan is probably thinking “Man, not another ‘Look Over Yonder!'” but this version is different than the one found on Valleys Of Neptune & West Coast Seattle Boy. It was recorded in the fall of 1968 and would have definitely been included on the 4th Experience studio album, had they ever finished it.

LITTLE WING
A nice, if way too short, instrumental take of this Axis: Bold As Love classic.

HERE HE COMES (LOVER MAN)
The definitive version of a song Jimi attempted over a dozen times in the studio throughout his career. The opening riff is lifted from Jimi’s live version of “Killing Floor.” Jimi’s amazing, soaring solo makes this track unforgettable.

SOUTH SATURN DELTA
Recorded during the sessions for Electric Lady, features Jimi & Mitch with an unknown horn section. I first heard this instrumental on 1990’s “Lifelines” box set and was impressed. Don’t like the mix here as much. But it’s nice to hear the complete version.

POWER OF SOUL
A Band of Gypsys era classic that was hacked to death on 1975’s Crash Landing. The live version is a lot better but it’s great to hear the unaltered original track. One complaint is the intro to this song goes on way too long. It feels like 2 minutes before Jimi hits the first verse.

MESSAGE TO THE UNIVERSE (MESSAGE OF LOVE)
Probably the weakest track on this collection. However it’s nice that they included something from Jimi’s Gypsy Sun & Rainbows period.

TAX FREE
A great instrumental originally released on 1972’s War Heroes. Jimi’s guitar/keyboard effects are incredible.

ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER (alternate mix)
I remember Eddie Kramer mentioning this 4 track stereo mix in his “Setting The Record Straight” book. I really can’t tell much of a difference and prefer the EL version.

THE STARS THAT PLAY WITH LAUGHING SAM’S DICE
Originally released back in 1967 in the UK as B side to “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp.” A fun little track featuring some great guitar work from Jimi. This is a much improved stereo mix.

MIDNIGHT
Another classic instrumental piece from War Heroes. Noel Redding was originally credited with having written this track.

SWEET ANGEL
The true “rare and never heard before” track. Recorded around the time of “Little Wing” this is a true gem. A very early demo of “Angel.” The version released 3 years later on the Purple Box set features the missing intro and a stereo mix. Hopefully EH will include the complete version here but I doubt it.

BLEEDING HEART
My favorite version of this Elmore James cover. A great lead off track on War Heroes. Unfortunately gets kind of lost in the mix here.

PALI GAP
This track became legendary in my mind because up until 1995’s Voodoo Soup it was impossible to find. Rainbow Bridge had been out of print for 20 years so “Pali Gap” became this huge mystery. Trying to guess what it even sounded like. Turns out it is a great instrumental. Doesn’t fit well here though. Should have been included on First Rays instead of “Beginnings.”

DRIFTER’S ESCAPE
Another Bob Dylan cover. I prefer the mix on “Lifelines” to this one. Still a great song though. Love the lyrics and Jimi’s impassioned singing and guitar plaing.

MIDNIGHT LIGHTNING
They saved the best song for last. When I first bought SSD I feared this was the awful version of “Midnight Lightning” from the 1975 album. Turns out to be a solo rendition of the song from Jimi with some amazing lyrics and heartfelt singing. A true rarity, I’ve always thought this would have worked better as an album closer on First Rays than “Belly Button Window.”

In reality, SSD is really a “loose ends” album. Compiling leftover tracks from Rainbow Bridge, War Heroes & Loose Ends with little rhyme or reason. There are some true gems in here though. It works better as an Anthology type overview of Jimi’s short recording career than the recent box set. Since every period & lineup is covered. Definitely recommended listening, it’s just a shame Sony/Legacy couldn’t throw in a couple more “rarities” on the April reissue

Review Capsule: Definitely worth buying if you don’t already own it. The April reissue will offer absolutely nothing new so I’d save your money.

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April 5, 2013 - Posted by | Jimi Hendrix South Saturn Delta |

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