Valleys of Neptune
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
It’s not unusual for a famous musician to put out a hit album long after being pronounced dead. Johnny Cash did it. Jim Morrison did it. Even Britney Spears did it. But it takes a particular kind of fortitude to make an after-death career out of it. With Valleys of Neptune, Jimi Hendrix’s 11th posthumously released studio album (in life, he released only three), the guitar legend proves he’s got the staying power to make it in this business.
Valleys of Neptune features 12 never-before-released recordings (most banged out in a 1969 session) and two instrumental bonus tracks. No doubt, the collection isn’t Hendrix at his best—the title track sounds an awful lot like “All Along the Watchtower,” and the “new” version of “Stone Free” just doesn’t hold up to the original. But let’s be fair: Jimi was never one for consistency, and one listens to his albums not for the technical precision but to get lost in that signature psychedelic sound. By that standard, Valleys of Neptune succeeds. Playing it is like stepping into a time machine preset to the late ‘60s. (James Lang)
Public Enemy No. 420
Vol. 1 (Jan. 18, 2010)
Author: Ras. R. Edward Forchion Jr.
Public Enemy No. 420 is admittedly a strange book. It has that cut-and-paste look of a fanatic’s manifesto and the grammatically heretical tone of a not particularly well-edited blog. Those unfamiliar with the author—guerilla cannabis activist Robert Edward Forchion, AKA NJWeedman—might initially dismiss the work as the ravings of a madman. That would be a mistake: Forchion may be mad, but he’s mad for all the right reasons.
Through press clippings, photos and cartoons and long, block-paragraph diatribes and essays, Forchion shows us the jaw-dropping trajectory of his career as a stunt activist, perennial public-office candidate and political prisoner. His antics may seem reckless, even phenomenally stupid at times, but NJWeedman sees his job on Earth as one of exposing the immorality of America’s pot laws by openly challenging them. If you have the patience to get through it, Public Enemy No. 420 is a surprisingly intimate and revealing look into the mind of that most unusual of stray cats—the weed advocate with nothing to lose. (James Lang)
The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins And Peaches Doing Dark Side of the Moon
Artists: The Flaming Lips and others.
Label: WEA/Reprise Records.
Psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips infiltrate one of the best rock albums of all time, turning Pink Floyd’s 1973 concept album inside out with twisty, layered homages that send the themes of conflict, greed and death even further into lo-fi space. The project was released on iTunes in December, but seafoam-green and clear vinyl album versions (with CD versions inside) were scheduled to hit the stores May 4.
Joined by Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Peaches and Henry Rollins, the Lips’ nine-track studio album builds on last year’s lush Embryonic in classic form with thick guitar gnashing and their usual electronic prowess. A collaborative effort, fans of all the musicians (including Pink Floyd) will certainly have a critique or two about this venture—it’s hard to take on an album that stayed on the charts from 1973-88 and not get some ruffled ducks. Still, experimenting is what the Lips do best, and they apologize to no one. Go blow your open mind. (Stacy Davies)