Neal Schon’s Latest LP Is A “Universal” Success

Courtesy: Neal Schon Music, Inc.

It goes without saying that guitarist Neal Schon is one of the most well-known and respected figures in the music industry today.  A founding member of legendary rock band Journey, Schon has also worked with fellow rock legend Carlos Santana, and is also a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee.  The band he helped found has sold millions of records the world over, too, thanks in part to his own performances on said records.  Schon added yet another proverbial notch in his belt this month when he released his new solo album Universe.  The 15-song record is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that will appeal equally to fans of Journey, Schon and to real rock musicianship in general.  This is proven in no small part to the musical arrangements that make up the body of the 70-minute record.  They will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements’ sequencing builds on the foundation built by the songs themselves and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be examined later.  All three elements noted here are important in their own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Universe more proof of why Neal Schon is in fact one of the most respected and well-known figures in the entire musical universe.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Neal Schon’s new solo album Universe is a strong new musical statement from a musician who has already so many laurels over the course of his career.  It is a presentation that will appeal widely not only to his fans, but to those of Journey and of real pure guitar rock, too.  That is proven continuously throughout the course of the album’s hour-plus run time in large part because of its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are wide spread in terms of their influences and comparison.  The record opens with a decidedly Joe Satriani style composition in ‘Something in the Heart.’  The song finds Schon playing so subtly against an orchestral backing and slow, steady drum beat to open the song.  The picture that it paints is like something that belongs in the end credits of some blockbuster drama on the big screen (E.g. the sun setting on the lead characters, their silhouettes the only part of them visible following the events of the story).  The subtlety in Schon’s performance alongside that of the song’s orchestral element is such a powerful presentation.  On a distinctly different note, Schon takes listeners in a completely different direction in ‘She’s For Real.’  The use of the strings in this song’s arrangement pairs with the piano arrangement to create something of a vintage disco type of style approach.  The aforementioned Joe Satriani-esque guitar work and the solid time keeping that accompany the strings and piano come into play here to enhance the arrangement even more, and make it that much more engaging and entertaining.   Not only that, but it also adds to the discussion on the diversity of the album’s musical arrangements.  It strengthens that discussion and in turn the importance of that element.  Showing even more, the diversity in the record’s musical arrangements is the frantic ‘Be Happy,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  The high-energy composition clocks in at just under three-and-a-half minutes, and makes full use of that time, too.  Schon’s fingers run their way all over his guitar’s fret board while the bass line and time keeping add an extra layer to the work.  The ghost notes and cymbal crashes from the percussion give just the right accent along with the bass drum.  The repetition of the almost walking bass line makes for a solid counterpoint to Schon’s fiery guitar work.  The addition of the strings to the mix adds its own unique touch to the whole, too.  By the time the song ends, listeners themselves will be left feeling breathless just from hearing the whole of the noted elements.  The composition is that intense, but in the best way possible.  It is just one more way in which the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements come through so clearly.  Between this work, the others addressed here, the likes of others, such as the slow jam style ‘Silent Voyage,’ the powerhouse cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain,’ and the bluesy, almost Pink Floyd-esque ‘Caruso,’ that diversity becomes even clearer.  When all of this is considered along with the rest of the album’s works, that diversity shines through even more, leaving zero doubt as to its importance.  It is of course just one of the key elements that makes Universe such a surprisingly successful album.  The sequencing of the album’s featured musical arrangements adds even more impact to the album’s presentation.

The sequencing of Universe is important to examine because it plays directly into listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  As already noted, the album opens on a somewhat somber note in ‘Something in the Heart.’  From there, the album’s energy only barely picks up as it progresses through ‘The Eye of God’ and ‘The Universe.’  From there, ‘Caruso’ pulls things back again before finally really letting loose in the cover of ‘Voodoo Child.’  The energy in that song carries through to ‘Third Stone From the Sun’ before really pulling back again in Schon’s cover of ‘Purple Rain.’  Listeners will be glad to know that things do not stay reserved for too long, as the album starts to pick back up again immediately after in ‘She’s For Real.’  The rises and falls in the album’s energy continues from here with full stability, ensuring just as much, that noted engagement and entertainment for audiences.  The bigger picture, looking back, is that of sequencing that took into full account, the songs’ energies and impact thereof.  The result of that attention to detail makes an album that listeners will find just as enjoyable to hear for this aspect as for the songs themselves.  Keeping all of this in mind, now it is even clearer why Universe is such a successful new offering from Schon.  It still is just one more aspect of the album that listeners will appreciate.  The production of Schon’s new album puts the finishing touch to the presentation.

As has already been noted more than once here, there is a lot going on in many of the songs featured in Universe.  This means that a lot of attention had to be paid to detail in each song.  That is so that the sound is balanced to the best degree possible in each work.  Those efforts paid off, too.  Schon takes center stage throughout the album, and with good cause.  At the same time though, Schon’s fellow musicians each get their own attention in each song.  The string arrangements are balanced so well each time they are incorporated into the songs.  The bass line, which far too often is under used by bands across the board, gets its own time in the light throughout the album, too.  Even the drums sound so rich, but never overpowering at any point. Simply put, throughout the course of Universe’s one hour, 10-minute presentation, each instrument and performance is expertly balanced in each song.  The result is that the album sounds that much more appealing.  When this is considered along with the appeal just from the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and the effect of the arrangements’ sequencing, the album in whole becomes a presentation that is another presentation from Schon that will appeal just as much to his fans as to those of Journey and guitar rock.

Neal Schon’s newly released solo album Universe is a positive new offering from the guitarist, whose accolades are already numerous.  Its diverse musical arrangements in themselves are certain to appeal to the noted wide range of listeners, along with the sequencing of those arrangements.  The production of the arrangements puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation, giving them the aesthetic that makes their sound just as appealing as their general content.  It puts the final touch to the album’s whole.  When it is considered with the songs and their sequencing, that whole makes the album a presentation that will appeal just as much to Schon’s fans as to those of journey and pure guitar rock.  Universe is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Schon’s latest news at:



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‘A Modern Man’s Way To Improve’ Is A Promising Start For Royal Horses

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Early this month, independent music collective Royal Horses released its debut album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve to the masses.  The 10-song record is a strong start for the band.  It is a presentation that makes this band one of the next big names in the country and southern rock communities.  That is proven in no small part to through the musical arrangements that make up the album’s 37-minute body.  They will be addressed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content adds to the album’s appeal.  It will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album a positive start for the up-and-coming outfit that is certain to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Royal Horses’ debut album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve is a powerful start for the collective.  It is a presentation whose appeal is far-reaching.  This is proven in part through its musical arrangements.  From start to end of the album, the band refuses to stick to just one sound and stylistic approach.  There is some rock influence, such as in ‘Rattlesnake Smoking a Cigar,’ which comes late in the albums run.  The song’s arrangement and sound is psychedelic.  There are times in this four-and-a-half-minute opus that conjure thoughts of Jimi Hendrix while at others, there are hints of Clutch.  Yes, it’s one heck of a combination, but it is balanced surprisingly well here and works just as well.  On a completely different note, ‘Leave A Light’ presents an old school country music approach that will appeal to fans of Hank Williams, what with its vintage honky ton sound and style.  On yet another note, a song, such as ‘Valley of the New’ will appeal to fans of the modern country rock band Reckless Kelly.  There is even a welcome bluegrass element in ‘Call It War’ and an equally enjoyable blues-based rock presentation in ‘Who Do You Know’ that will appeal to fans of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band.  ‘Ruby Do’ gives audiences a sort of rockabilly approach that fans of Rev. Horton Heat and the Legendary Shack Shakers will enjoy.  Between these noted arrangements and the others featured throughout the album, the whole of the record’s musical content shows great diversity.  That in itself ensures the album’s noted wide appeal.  It is just one aspect of what audiences will enjoy about the album.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s diverse range of musical arrangements adds to the record’s appeal even more.

The lyrical content that is presented throughout A Modern Man’s Way To Improve adds to the album’s success because it is just as accessible as the album’s musical arrangements.  Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Valley of the New.’  Front man Shelby Kemp sings here, “give me a reason to be here/Give me something to lose/Sing me a riddle/And I’ll give you a good answer/And I’ll hold you ‘til the sun comes shining through.”  From there he sings later, “If I die here/There is something you must do/March me down/In a field of golden roses/March me down/to the tune of something blue/hang my hat/On a yonder mountain/Lay my heart/In the valley of the new.”  This is as old school country as a song can get.  On another note, the addition of the claves to the song’s arrangement gives the work a little bit of a Jimmy Buffet influence.  Getting back on track, the song follows lyrically in similar fashion as that presented in its lead verse and chorus.  Simply put, this is vintage country in which someone is singing about life gone by and what is to come.  It’s one of those classic introspective songs that one could so easily hear in an old, dimly lit honky tonk bar.  Its introspective lyrical content and equally moving musical arrangement makes for so much enjoyment.

‘Valley of the New’ is just one of songs whose lyrical theme shows the overall importance of the album’s lyrical content.  ‘Rattlesnake Smoking A Cigar’ presents its own interesting lyrical content.  It is just as psychedelic as the song’s musical arrangement.  The subject sings here about going for a drive with his dad.  The duo meets a group of women *allegedly* and one turned out to be not quite what she appeared.  It is the most unique lyrical presentations featured in this album and will certainly have listeners talking. 

‘Bottom of the Chart’ presents another unique lyrical theme that is worth noting.  This song finds the song’s subject singing about being there for someone else when all of life’s negativities happen.  From everything dying to “mother earth closing her eyes”, to even rivers being dammed up by trees, the song’s subject says he will be there for that person “at the bottom of your chart.”  This is just this critic’s interpretation, but it comes across as someone saying, even when I’m the last on your list, the least important to you, I’ll be there.  If in fact that is what the song’s subject is saying, then it is powerful.  Most people who realize they are at the bottom of someone else’s priorities will do something to change things and perhaps just walk away from that situation.  For this song’s subject to seemingly say he will be there, devoted as ever, no matter what, is a powerful statement.  On one hand, it is moving.  On another, some might say not so smart.  The seeming lyrical theme in itself is certain to generate plenty of discussion.  Building on the noted discussion, if in fact this critic’s interpretation is right then it takes listeners in yet another distinct direction.  It shows even more, the record’s lyrical diversity.  The result is that it shows even more, the importance of the album’s lyrical content in whole.  The rest of the record’s lyrical content supports the noted statements just as much as that examined here.  Between all of that and the album’s musical content, all of this more than makes this record worth hearing.  All of that content is just a part of what makes A Modern Man’s Way Of Improving such a strong start for Royal Horses.  The production of the noted collective content rounds out the record’s most important elements.

The production of A Modern Man’s Way of Improving is important to note because of how much is going on in some of the album’s entries, and how little is going on in others.  ‘BLD’ for instance, which closes out the album, is one of the entries that has very little going on.  It is grounded in a very simple, light guitar line.  The echoing effect in the guitar’s melancholy approach is a credit to the production.  It really serves to help set the mood in this song.  The lyrical content is very limited here, which means the music takes center stage.  Those behind the boards are to be credited for their work here.  That noted echo effect and just the simplicity in the guitar line here supports the old adage that it is possible for a song to be heavy without being heavy. 

By comparison, the album’s title track, which comes very early in its sequence, has a little bit more going on.  The poppy approach and sound in the song again lends itself to comparisons to works from Reckless Kelly, but in this case, also to works from Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen.  That’s one heck of a collection of influences, but it works so well here.  It is also a credit to those responsible for the album’s production.  That upbeat but still light guitar line works so well with the song’s solid time keeping and catchy vocal delivery style to make for so much enjoyment.  On another level, the subtlety in the lead guitar line against the lighter rhythm guitar line adds its own richness to the presentation.    The bass line pairs with that aspect to fill out the arrangement even more.  As the song progresses, an increasing amount of action takes place.  Each element within the song is expertly balanced throughout, to the end that the song offers listeners full enjoyment and engagement from start to end.  It is just one more way in which the album’s production proves so important and hardly the last.  ‘Call It War’ is another example of the importance of the album’s production.

‘Call It War’ crosses elements of bluegrass with southern rock and country into one whole for its foundation.  The very crossing of the elements into one whole makes for an interesting presentation.  That the banjo and electric guitar get equal attention here thanks to the production enriches the song’s arrangement in its own right.  That the drums are used to tastefully here to add accents in all of the right points adds even more to the song’s enjoyment and engagement.  The whole conjures thoughts of the Jerry Reed/Dick Feller hit song ‘Eastbound and Down’ from the timeless Burt Reynolds movie Smokey & The Bandit.  That the whole can conjure such a comparison and that everything is so well-balanced here is one more example of the impact and importance of the album’s production.  The production clearly brings out the best aspects of each song, in turn making each song so enjoyable and engaging.  When this is considered along with the album’s musical and lyrical content, the whole of these elements makes the album in whole a successful first outing for Royal Horses.

Royal Horses’ debut album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve is a positive first outing for the up-and-coming band.  It is a presentation that is sure to appeal to a wide range of listeners.  That is proven in large part through its musical arrangements.  The record’s musical arrangements offer elements of southern rock, country, bluegrass, and even blues-based rock.  The arrangements never stay on one track for too long a period of time, either.  That ensures in its own way, listeners’ enjoyment and engagement.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements is just as diverse as the album’s musical arrangements.  It ensures even more that enjoyment and engagement.  The production that went into the album’s presentation brings out the best elements of each arrangement, making the album even richer in its presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the album’s presentation.  Al things considered, they make the album a promising first outing for Royal Horses.  The album is available now. 

More information on A Modern Man’s Way To Improve is available along with all of Royal Horses’ latest news at:



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Hammerfall Drops The Hammer On 2020’s Top New Live Recordings List

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Live music and live music venues took a big hit this year thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  That goes without saying.  Music acts and venues from the independent level all the way up to the big names were force to put their live music plans on hold indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.  However a glimmer of hope rose this week when Live Nation head Joe Berchtold was quoted by major media outlets as saying that he believed live music would return by summer 2021.  One can only hope that Mr. Berchtold is right, and that when it does return, audiences will welcome its return rather than let the germaphobes control their minds.  Until then, audiences do have lots of live music to enjoy on CD, DVD and Blu-ray that was released this year.  Hammerfall released its latest live recording Live! Against The World this year.  Dream Theater also dropped its new live recording Distant Memories: Live in London.  Metallica even celebrated the anniversary of its landmark S&M show with the release of S&M2.  These are just some of the recordings that made Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.  They were joined by new live material from the likes of Myrath, The Rolling Stones, and Kamelot.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this collection features the Top 10 new titles in the given category and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.


  1. Hammerfall – Live! Against The World
  2. Jimi Hendrix – Live in Maui
  3. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – A Swingin’ Sesame Street Celebration
  4. Def Leppard – London to Vegas
  5. The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels Live
  6. Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1
  7. John Lee Hooker – Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990
  8. Waylon Jennings – The Outlaw Perrformances
  9. Myrath – Live in Carthage
  10. Kamelot – I Am The Empire Live from the 013
  11. Dream Theater – Distant Memories: Live in London
  12. Metallica – S&M2
  13. Delta Rae – Coming Home To Carolina
  14. Bush – Live in Tampa
  15. Dee Snider – For The Love of Metal

Up next from Phil’s Picks is one of the last three music categories of the year, Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Rock Albums.  After that will be the year’s top new hard rock & metal albums, and then last but not least, the year’s top new albums overall.  From there, it’ll be on to the DVDs and Blu-rays in all of their categories.  Stay tuned for all of that.

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‘Live In Maui’ Is An Essential Experience For Any Jimi Hendrix Fan

Courtesy: Sony/Legacy Recordings/Experience Hendrix, LLC

Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC released another important chapter to the story of Jimi Hendrix’s life and career Friday.  The “chapter” came in the form of the new live recording/documentary Live in Maui.  The brand new release is a presentation that every Hendrix aficionados.  The liner notes that accompany the hybrid recording forms the package’s foundation and will be discussed shortly.  After having read through the extensive liner notes in the set’s companion booklet, audiences will then remain engaged and entertained by the set’s two live performances by Hendrix and company, as well as the fiasco that was the Rainbow Bridge documentary.  The two elements together make the presentation in whole, and unforgettable story on what would sadly become the last chapter of Hendrix’s life.  The three-disc set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the collection’s primary and secondary content, the whole becomes a must have for any Jimi Hendrix fan.

On July 30, 1970, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix and his fellow musicians Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox played what would be one of the group’s final performances together.  Only days after the intimate concert, Hendrix would die of a drug overdose.  Now thanks to Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC, audiences can experience the ill-fated concert any time they want on Blu-ray and CD in the form of Live in Maui.  Released Friday, the three-disc set is an important chapter in the story of Hendrix’s life and career in part because of the story behind the concert and the documentary that spawned the concert, Rainbow Bridge.  That story is told through liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet, which were crafted separately by journalists Jeff Slate and John McDermott.  Slate points out in his portion of the liner notes, a variety of interesting facts about the documentary that Hendrix was not initially on board for the documentary, which his manager Michael Jeffrey had bankrolled, in large part on Hendrix’s back.  It points out that in order to pay for the creation of Rainbow Bridge, Jeffrey had gotten a $1 million advance from Reprise Records – Hendrix’s label at the time – to pay for the creation of Rainbow Bridge, and that half of that amount was taken against potential future royalties from sales of the next album that Hendrix was working on at the time.  That is rather selfish of Jeffrey to have done that to Hendrix,  let alone trying to get Hendrix and his band mates on board for the documentary even though they already had a packed schedule.  This is just a part of what makes this set’s liner notes so important.  Slate’s revelation that few if any preparations were made for Hendrix and company ahead of their performance — a rickety stage, microphones that were unable to handle the sound impacts of high winds, and sound problems that are audible and visible in the final recording – shows how short-sighted Jeffrey was in his attempt at an art style production.  Viewers will note from Slate’s statements that the foam covering the mics was in fact from the band’s equipment cases, and was meant to muffle the sound of the strong winds that were blowing that day.  There are also issues with sound syncing throughout the performance, which Slate also addresses in his liner notes.  It reminds audiences that the production problems seen and heard in the concert are not the fault of anyone at Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC, but rather of those who were behind the creation of Rainbow Bridge and the associated two-set concert.

McDermott, in his notes, backs up Slate’s writing about the production problems that faced Hendrix and his band mates, but pointing out that the trio took the whole thing in stride, performing just as professionally as it would at any other concert.  Additionally, McDermott takes time to point out why the concert’s order was presented as was.  As a hint, that is also related to the production problems caused by those behind Rainbow Bridge’s creation and that of the concert.  Keeping in mind this, everything pointed out in Slate’s notes and even more not mentioned here, the liner notes featured with Live in Maui form a strong foundation for the recording’s presentation.  It is just one aspect of what make the recording so appealing.  The two sets that make up the recording’s featured concert build on that foundation, making for even more enjoyment and engagement.

The two sets that are featured in Live in Maui are important both for their content and their presentation.  As is noted in the recording’s liner notes, the set opens with what was then one of Hendrix’s newest songs, ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).’  From there, the concert went into a series of fan favorites, such as ‘Hear My Train A-Comin’,’ ‘Foxey Lady’ and ‘Purple Haze’ before presenting another new song, ‘Spanish Castle Magic.’  That then new song is followed by another new tune, ‘Lover Man,’ which is itself followed by the first set’s closer, ‘Message to Love.’  In simple terms, Hendrix and company presented the audience with a well-balanced set featuring some familiar content and something new from beginning to end in this case.  The second set gives listeners a fair share of familiar songs, too, again, doing its own part to ensure audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  The two sets clearly entertained the audience who attended the event.  The intimate audience, who had originally taken part in the filming of Rainbow Bridge danced nonstop to the performance.

While the featured set lists do plenty to keep audiences engaged, it should also be noted that the editing used in the recording is impressive in its own right.  That is because, as noted in the liner notes, the whole concert was not recorded by cameras during the shoot for Rainbow Bridge.  There are plenty of points at which cameras apparently stopped rolling.  It is at those points at which the post production came into play.  That aspect was also discussed in the liner notes.  The painstaking efforts that were taken to assemble the concert’s audio in post paid off, as the transitions are seamless.  The result of those efforts is a full concert recording that even without full visual footage still proves so enjoyable.  To that end, the combination of the previously unreleased concert footage and audio proves just as enjoyable as the liner notes that accompany the concert and its associated documentary.  These two elements together just make up one part of what makes the recording so appealing.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.

The packaging used for Live in Maui is important to note through the placement of its three discs.  This set’s packaging is not the standard multi-disc presentation.  Rather than using a familiar gatefold style packaging for the 2CD/BD set, it opens more like a box, with the cover section opening downward, the another portion opening up, and the final two portions opening left and right.  The companion booklet is held in the middle of it all while the CDs and Blu-ray disc each sit in their own spot in the gatefolds.  It is an original packaging style to say the very least that also manages to protect each disc.  The only downside to the packaging style is that it can put undue stress on the package, leading to the potential of each “wing” tearing over time.  Even with that in mind, if a person is careful enough with the packaging, that wear should be minimal over time.  To that end, the packaging is more of an aesthetic element here, but is still important to note in its own right.  When it is considered along with the liner notes and the concert footage itself, the whole of the recording proves that much more engaging and entertaining.  All things considered, this rare live/documentary hybrid set proves to be a welcome addition to the library of any Jimi Hendrix fan.

Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC’s new Jimi Hendrix recording Live in Maui is an important chapter of Jimi Hendrix’s life and career that until now has been unreleased.  Now thanks to the companies, it is out there for fans to experience.  The liner notes that fill the companion booklet tell a rich story in this chapter.  They set the stage for the previously unreleased live recording featured in this set.  The packaging that is used to house the set’s two discs and one Blu-ray puts the finishing touch to the set with is aesthetic value.  And of course for those who want, the much maligned documentary Rainbow Bridge is also included on the Blu-ray.  Though knowing the story, it will make some not even want to watch the program.  Regardless, its inclusion in the set along with the concert footage and liner notes, makes the set in whole a must have for any Jimi Hendrix fan and any classic rock fan.  It is available now.

More information on Music, Money, MadnessLive in Maui and other Jimi Hendrix releases is available online at:




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Derek Sherinian Debuts Track-By-Track Discussion On New LP

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Derek Sherinian showed audiences how his latest album The Phoenix came to life this week.

Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, ex-Dream Theater, Platypus) debuted his new “making of” video Tuesday.  The nearly 25-minute video opens with Sherinian shredding on a massive keyboard setup before eventually moving into an interview with Sherinian and a montage of footage from the album’s recording sessions.

The noted montage is coupled with a series of other interview segments with Sherinian and some of the album’s featured guest stars, such as Billy Sheehan, Simon Phillips, and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.

The video takes audiences trac-by-track through The Phoenix in Sherinian’s own words and those of Phillips.  the pair discusses topics related to the album, such as the influence of Return To Forever and Jimi Hendrix, working with bluesman Joe Bonamassa, and bringing everyone together for the album.

The Phoenix is available now through InsideOut Music.  The album has produced the singles ‘Them Changes,’ ‘Dragonfly,’ and ‘Empyrean Sky.’

It will be available as a limited edition digipack CD, 180-gram LP/CD combo pack and digital album.  The record’s track listing is noted below.


1. The Phoenix
2. Empyrean Sky
3. Clouds of Ganymede
4. Dragonfly
5. Temple of Helios
6. Them Changes
7. Octopus Pedigree
8. Pesadelo


The Phoenix will feature guest appearances by figures, such as bassists Billy Sheehan, Tony Franklin and Jimmy Johnson and guitarists Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, Guns N’ Roses), and Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth).

Sherinian said of bringing Loureiro on board for the new album, “Kiko and I have known one another for about 20 years, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play with him.”

More information on Derek Sherinian’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:






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Experience Hendrix, LLC And Legacy Recordings Partner To Release The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1970 Maui Concert

Courtesy: Experience Hendrix, LLC/Legacy Recordings

Experience Hendrix, LLC will release a new Jimi Hendrix documentary and companion live recording this fall.

Music, Money, MadnessLive in Maui is scheduled for release Nov. 20 through Legacy Recordings.  The documentary and its companion recording center on The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1970 performance in Maui, HI.  The band’s performance was part of the now infamous documentary film Rainbow Bridge, which was produced by the band’s then manager Michael Jeffrey.

The central plot of Rainbow Bridge was that of a “rainbow bridge” that connected the unenlightened and the enlightened worlds.  It was shot without professional actors, and featured footage of people taking part in activities, such as surfing, Tai-Chi and meditation.

The film remains controversial to this day for a variety of reasons.  Jeffrey spent $500,000 — given to him as an advance from Warner Brothers — on the documentary.  It is alleged that Hendrix’s involvement in the film was not a guarantee.  It is alleged that Jeffrey had to convince Hendrix to perform, as he allegedly did not initially agree to take part.

The performance put on by Hendrix and his band mates ended up totaling only 17 minutes.  None of the performance footage featured in the film is a complete song.  The recording set for release in November will be the first time that the group’s performance has been released in full.

The Jimi Hendrix Experiences’ performance as part of Rainbow Bridge‘s production would be Hendrix’s last recorded concert and his second to last American Concert.  His final American concert was a performance on  Aug. 1, 1970 at the H.I.C. Arena in Honolulu, HI.  Hendrix had already committed to the concert before being convinced by Jeffrey to take part in Rainbow Bridge.

Hendrix died a short time later on Sept. 18, 1970 when he went to Europe to tour there.

The documentary and recording will release on Blu-ray/2CD combo pack and separate 3LP gatefold vinyl.

Pre-orders for Music, Money, MadnessLive in Maui are open.  Audiences can view a trailer for the documentary here.  The band’s performance of ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)‘ held during its performance in Maui, is also streaming.

The track listing for the concert is noted below.




Chuck Wein Introduction

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)

In From The Storm

Foxey Lady

Hear My Train A-Comin’

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)


Purple Haze

Spanish Castle Magic

Lover Man

Message to Love



Dolly Dagger

Villanova Junction

Ezy Ryder

Red House


Jam Back at the House

Straight Ahead

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/Midnight Lightning

Stone Free


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Capitol Records, Universal Music To Reissue Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Band Of Gypsys’ Live Recording Next Month

Courtesy: Capitol Records/Universal Music Group

Capitol Records and Universal Music will celebrate a major musical milestone next month.

The companies will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original release of Jimi Hendrix’s seminal live album Band of Gypsys March 27 with a new vinyl reissue of said album.  The all-analog presentation was mastered from the original analog stereo tapes of the recording.  The mastering work was handled by famed Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer.

The new vinyl reissue will be available on two different pressings — a black, 180-gram pressing from Quality Record Pressings, and a translucent cream, red, yellow and green swirl 180-gram pressing available exclusively through

Each pressing will feature an eight-page booklet filled with rare images from the Band of Gypsys concert and an essay penned by John McDermott.  They will also feature a 24″ X 36″ reproduction of the original poster used by Capitol Records to promote Band of GypsysPre-orders are open now for the reissue.

Jane Hendrix, Jimi’s sister and Experience Hendrix CEO, spoke highly of the forthcoming reissue in a recent interview.

“This is more than the commemoration of an anniversary that is, of course, something momentous, but it is also the celebration of a cathartic event in Jimi’s life…a sort of changing of the guards,” she said.  “He demonstrated that there was no limit to his musical landscape.  It was broad and beautiful, and like the leader of a true band of gypsies, Jimi could go anywhere on the spectrum of genres and be at home there musically!  This is our way of celebrating that part of Jimi’s journey.”

Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys live show was originally recorded Jan. 1, 1970 at New York’s famed Fillmore East.  His then bassist Billy Cox recalled what led to the release of the concert recording during his own recent interview.

“There had been a lawsuit against him and the only way out of that was to give them something,” he said.  “Jimi came to me and explained what had happened.  Then it was decided to give them an album.  I said let’s go for it.  At the time, Mitch [Mitchell] was in England, but [Buddy [Miles] would frequent the studios with us and he decided the same thing; let’s help our friend in need. Ultimately we became the Band of Gypsys.”

The lawsuit of which Cox referenced reached back to 1965 when Hendrix was still an unknown artist.  He worked at the time on a series of recordings from Curtis Knight & The Squires.  He was signed to Sue Records at the time, but had signed a deal with PPX Industries, binding his services not only for his work with Curtis Knight & The Squires but in general for the next three years.

That contract with PPX Industries led to the release of two 45 rpm singles that were licensed to RSVP Records by PPX Industries in early 1966.  Neither release gained any traction, leading Knight and Hendrix to part ways.  Hendrix’s agreement with PPX Industries was still in effect when Hendrix became famous as his own star.  A series of recordings that Hendrix had done with Knight was released at the time of Hendrix’s fame, competing with Hendrix’s own successful records Are You Experienced and Get That Feeling.

The competing recordings led to litigation, which was settled in 1968.  The settlement required Hendrix to deliver an album of original content to Capitol Records for distribution.  That recording was the now timeless live recording Band of Gypsys.

Band of Gypsys features six then unreleased songs — ‘Machine Gun,’ ‘Message To Love,’ ‘Power of Soul,’ ‘Who Knows,’ ‘Changes’ and ‘We Gotta Live Together.’  The recording’s track listing is noted below.


1) Who Knows
2) Machine Gun
Recorded January 1, 1970 Early Show

1) Changes
2) Power To Love
3) Message To Love
4) We Gotta Live Together
 Recorded January 1, 1970 Late Show

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Eagle Rock’s Mingus Montreux Show Shines In Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top New Live CDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Going to live shows is neither easy nor inexpensive nowadays.  Between the collective cost of tickets — which is itself oftentimes bank-breaking — transportation, food, potential lodging and souvenirs, and of course planning around work and family schedules, getting out to live shows is not easy for anyone.

Those barriers make the availability of live recordings something critical for audiences everywhere, regardless of genre.  To that end, live CDs deserve their own consideration just as much as studio recordings, each year.  Keeping that in mind, Phil’s Picks has developed once again a list of the year’s Top 10 new live CDs.

This year has been an interesting one for live CDs.  Some notable live CDs were featured as part of bigger bundles (E.G. The Rolling Stones’ San Jose ’99 and Voodoo Lounge ’94 shows) while others, such as Alice Cooper’s A Paranormal Night @ The Olympia Paris and Marty Friedman’s One Bad M.F. Live were standalone offerings.

Some were standout offerings for all of the best reasons.  Others had some problems to note.  Keeping all of this in mind, this year’s crop of live CDs deserves just as much attention as the vast sea of studio recordings released throughout the year.

Topping this year’s list is yet another live CD from the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment in the form of Charles Mingus’ classic 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival show.  This recording presents Mingus at one of his finest moments, and why his live performances were — and still are today — such powerful presentations.

Coming in second in this year’s list is the new Jimi Hendrix live CD, Live at the Hollywood Bowl.  This CD was released as part of the bigger Electric Ladyland box set, and stands out so strongly because of its set list, Hendrix and company’s performance and the production values.

Third place in this year’s list of the year’s best new live CDs goes to veteran viking metal outfit Amon Amarth.  The 30-song set list spans two nights and quite an expansive portion of the band’s catalog.  That set list is directly mirrored on its DVD and BD presentation, and sounds just as good.  Though because of the intensity of the show, it is still better appreciated being seen and heard and not just heard.  That’s not to say the CD presentation is bad, but audiences will agree that hearing it makes for far more appreciation for the concerts’ DVD and BD presentations.

Also featured in this year’s list of top new live CDs are those noted new offerings from Marty Friedman, Alice Cooper and The Rolling Stones alongside new offerings from Opeth, Devin Townsend and John 5 to name just a few more titles.  As always, this critic’s list features 10 of the year’s top new offerings plus five honorable mentions, which follow, for a total count of 15.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 new Live CDs.


  1. Charles Mingus — Live at Montreux 1975
  2. Jimi Hendrix — Live at the Hollywood BowlAug. 14, 1968
  3. Amon Amarth — The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm
  4. Devin Townsend Project — Ocean MachineLive at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
  5. Opeth — Garden of the TitansLive at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
  6. The Rolling Stones — No SecuritySan Jose ’99
  7. The Rolling Stones — Voodoo Lounge Uncut
  8. John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension and Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip — Live in San Francisco
  9. Marty Friedman — One Bad M.F. Live
  10. Accept — Symphonic TerrorLive at Wacken 2017
  11. Alice Cooper — A Paranormal Night at The Olympia Paris
  12. Fates Warning — Live Over Europe
  13. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow — Memories in Rock II
  14. John 5 and The Creatures — It’s Alive
  15. Overkill — Live in Overhausen

Verve’s New Coltrane LP Is The Cream Of 2018’s New Albums Crop

Courtesy: Verve RecordsVer

From the mainstream to the underground, from the worlds of jazz and blues to the worlds of pop and rock, audiophiles have been given quite a bit this year to appreciate.  Up-and-coming blues-rock band The Record Company and veteran jazz outfit Yellowjackets joined World Music act Yiddish Glory to prove to be some of this year’s best new music.

Experience Hendrix, LLC’s new Jimi Hendrix album Both Sides of the Sun, composer Klaus Schultz and veteran performers Elvis Costello & The Imposters also provided some memorable new music along with Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ry Cooder and Femi Kuti.

Considering how many top notch records were released this year, developing this year’s list was not easy by any means.  The acts noted previously all turned out some very impressive offerings.

After much analysis and consideration, this critic has placed atop the year’s top new albums list is the long-lost album from John Coltrane, Both Directions At Once.  The record stands out as a shining beacon that music lovers across the board should hear at least once, regardless of their familiarity with Coltrane and his body of work.

Second in this year’s list is taken by Yiddish Glory’s new album The Lost Songs of WWII.  Listeners learn some very important history about Jewish music, culture and history through this album that should be in so many listeners’ libraries.

Third place in this year’s list goes to composer Klaus Schultz and his new album Silhouettes.  The otherworldly compositions featured in this record are stunning in their presentation.  They conjure thoughts of some of Nine Inch Nails master mind Trent Reznor’s most powerful instrumental works crossed with just a touch of John Williams sensibility.  It really is a powerful presentation that crosses genres and deserves so much attention.

The remainder of this year’s list features new albums from the likes of Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Femi Kuti and The Record Company just to name a few acts.  As always, the list’s top 10 titles are the best while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 Albums of the Year.


  1. John Coltrane — Both Directions At Once
  2. Yiddish Glory — The Lost Songs of WWII
  3. Klaus Shultz — Silhouettes
  4. Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite — No Mercy in this Land
  5. The Jamie Lawrence Sextet — New York Suite
  6. Jimi Hendrix — Both Sides of the Sky
  7. Femi Kuti — One PeopleOne World
  8. Ry Cooder — Prodigal Son
  9. Yellowjackets — Raising Our Voice
  10. The Record Company — All Of this Life
  11. Billy Gibbons — The Big Bad Blues
  12. Elvis Costello & The Imposters — Look Now
  13. Onyx Collective — Lower East Suite Part Three
  14. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats — Tearing at the Seams
  15. Joe Bonamassa — Redemption

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‘Electric Ladyland’ Re-Issue Is A Fitting Tribute To A Legendary Musician

Courtesy: Experience Hendrix LLC/Legacy Recordings

Jimi Hendrix, over the course of his professional career, released a grand total of only three full-length studio recordings – Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland.  By today’s standards, releasing three albums is not that much of an accomplishment for any music act, yet somehow, Hendrix has remained one of the single most influential figures in the music industry to this date.  That is, again, despite having only released three full-length studio recordings.  It is an interesting concept.  He is considered so influential because of the creativity exhibited in the songs that he composed, both musically and lyrically.  That third noted album is one of the most powerful exhibitions of Hendrix’s creative range and his talent, and early this month, the music industry celebrated the 50th anniversary of its original release, with a special re-issue of that record.  Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition was released Nov.  9 via Sony Legacy and Experience Hendrix, LLC.  The four-disc collection is a wonderful new presentation of the landmark album.  That is due in no small part to its overall primary content, which will be discussed shortly.  The book in which that content is contained is just as important to the set’s presentation as the primary content.  It will be discussed a little later.  The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Edition.  All things considered, they make this new deep dive into Hendrix’s groundbreaking final album one of the year’s top new album re-issues, if not the year’s best.

Sony Legacy and Experience Hendrix LLC’s recently released 50th anniversary edition of Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 album Electric Ladyland is one of this year’s best new album re-issues, if not the single best in that category.  That is proven in part through the primary content included in the new “box set” of sorts.  The primary content features not only the original Electric Ladyland album on a single disc, but also a full disc of demos that Hendrix recorded during the Electric Ladyland sessions, a full recording of Hendrix and his band mates at the time – Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell – performing live at the Hollywood Bowl and a Blu-ray documentary that focuses on the creation of Electric Ladyland.  In other words, the primary content is spread across three CDs and one Blu-ray disc.  The documentary, At LastThe Beginning, originally aired in 1997 as part of the Classic Albums TV series, so its presentation here is not the first time that it has ever been available in any format.  As a matter of fact, Experience Hendrix, LLC last released the rock doc on DVD in 2008.  It features interviews with Buddy Miles, Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding, Eddie Kramer and others involved in Electric Ladyland’s creation that offer plenty of insight and entertainment.  The entertainment includes anecdotes from Miles about his enjoyment of playing shuffles against Hendrix’s guitar riffs, one session keyboardist’s laughing story of having never been paid for his session work with Hendrix, and Redding’s own discussions about Hendrix’s creativity with each song.  The more insightful discussions feature talks on the eventual breakdown in the band over the course of the album’s recording, – including Hendrix allegedly coming in hours late for a recording session – the album’s various arrangements and how they came to be, and Hendrix’s own role in the album’s creation.  Overall, the documentary is something of an audio-visual presentation of the history presented in the set’s companion liner notes.  It even features many of the pictures that are featured in the set’s book.  To that end, it makes the documentary that much more important in its own right, as part of the set’s primary content.  Of course, the doc is only one part of what makes the set’s primary content so important.  The set’s live recording adds even more enjoyment to the set’s whole.

The live recording, Live at the Hollywood Bowl presents Hendrix and his fellow musicians performing live at the noted venue on September 14, 1968, only a month before Electric Ladyland’s initial release.  Interestingly enough, while the performance was recorded only weeks ahead of the album’s release, the concert pulled heavily from The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut 1967 album Are You Experienced.  Save for ‘Little Wing,’ which was included in 1968’s Axis: Bold As Love and ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return),’ which is included in Electric Ladyland, the rest of the 11-song performance’s set list comes from Are You Experienced.  This is important to note as one would have thought the being so close to Electric Ladyland’s release, the group would have focused more attention on that album, yet for whatever reason, chose not to go that route.  That is not a bad thing, but rather just noted.  The band’s performance of the set list makes for its own enjoyment, as the whole thing feels so organic.  Even as Hendrix notes near the performance’s end the concerns about the powers that be wanting to turn off the power, he and his band mates never show any sense of stress or concern.  It is just one of so many moments that shows that organic feel.  Between the group’s casual nature as it preps for each song, its interactions with the audience between the songs and the very performance of the songs, the whole thing feels so natural.  This is all so important to note in that performances from so many of today’s big name acts do not have that organic feel, as much as acts – regardless of genre – try to make their performances feel.  Keeping this in mind, the fully organic, natural feel of the band’s performance here makes the recording so enjoyable.

On another level, the live recording is important to discuss because of its audio mix.  Listeners will note in taking in the recording that it sounds just as organic as it feels.  The scratchy, static-filled sound from the concert’s original recording is on full display here.  It adds so much pleasure to the concert experience.  In an age in which everything is digital, this sound shows that it is fully possible to transfer classic recordings to CD without any loss in the process.  It proves that as much as consumers today want to move toward all things digital, there is still very much a place for physical media, and a justified place for it at that.  When this is considered along with the positives of the performance – and the fact that this recording apparently has previously been unreleased —  it becomes clear why Live at the Hollywood Bowl is an important addition to Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition’s whole.  It still is not the last important addition to the set’s presentation.  The audio companion to At Last: The Beginning is yet another important part of the set’s primary content to discuss.

The 20-song collection gives audiences a glimpse into the creative process for the Electric Ladyland sessions, and into Hendrix’s own mindset as he composed the album’s songs.  Early on in the collection, audiences get an interesting variance in the ‘Angel’ demo.  The demo for this song was played either on bass or in a rather low key on guitar.  By comparison, the final album cut features more depth with its added effects and bluesy riffs.  While maybe not a stark difference, it is still a notable difference.  Hendrix’s demo of ‘Hear My Train ‘A Comin’’ is another interesting moment from At LastThe Beginning.  While it sounds dramatically different from the final cut – and is very short here at just shy of 90 seconds – the pure approach here with just Jimi and his guitar conjures thoughts of Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt just to name a couple equally well-known blues names.  The emotion in Hendrix’s voice in the demo for ‘My Friend’ is yet another example of what makes this collection of demos and rarities such a welcome addition to the Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition.  It is hardly the last example of the compilation’s importance, too.  Between this demo, the others noted here and the rest of the collection’s featured works, the whole of the disc is sure to offer its own share of entertainment for listeners.  That includes the most devoted audiences and the most novice fans.  When its importance is considered alongside the importance of the rest of the noted primary content, it becomes wholly clear and without doubt that the extensive amount and type of material that makes up the set’s primary content makes for more than enough for audiences to appreciate here.  Of course as important and impressive as the set’s primary content is to the set’s whole is, that content is not the only content worth noting.  The secondary content is just as important to examine as the set’s primary content.

The secondary content presented in Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is composed mainly of the photos and liner notes inside the set’s “book.”  The liner notes and pictures take audiences even deeper into the set than the musical content.  A prime example of that depth is the revelation that the cover art proposed by Hendrix’s label at the time – Reprise Records – featured a bevy of completely nude females.  That cover, by the way, is featured in a picture in the book, so it is not proper for young eyes, as a warning for audiences.  The liner notes reveal that Hendrix was none too pleased with that proposal, especially after having proposed a far more tame cover, which is in fact presented in this release.  Another interesting revelation produed through the liner notes is that Hendrix did not want to take control of the album’s recording sessions, but ended up largely taking control, albeit very reluctantly.  Yet another intriguing revelation made through the set’s liner notes is that Hendrix was apparently a very devout fan of Bob Dylan, and that Dylan in fact appreciated Hendrix’s take of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ so much that he actually went on to use that version in so many of his own live shows.  That is a true sign of respect between two legendary musicians.

As if the revelations produced in the primary liner notes are not enough for audiences, there are also liner notes for many of the demos featured in the audio-only presentation of At LastThe Beginning.  Audiences learn through those notes that Hendrix was forced to take the lead in the sessions for ‘Little Miss Strange’ due to scheduling conflicts with producer Chas Chandler.  That revelation leads to even more interesting related discussions.  The notes on ‘Long Hot Summer Night (Take 14)’ provide their own interest as there is a discussion on the connection between Hendrix and cosmetics giant Revlon.  Audiences will be left here to find out more about that connection for themselves.  When that interesting story is considered along with the other equally interesting information shared in the liner notes (both those discussed and not discussed here), the whole of that information creates even more content for audiences to appreciate.  When it is collectively considered alongside the primary content already discussed here, the whole of that is more than enough reason for audiences to appreciate in this set.  Considering all of this, the set’s average price point proves to be money well-spent.

The average price point for Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition comes to $52.50, using prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.  The release is listed at Best Buy, however, its listing does not list specifically if the item listed is the CD Deluxe Edition or the vinyl deluxe edition.  The set’s mode price (most commonly listed price) is $49.19, which is the price listed at Amazon, Target and Walmart.  Keeping both of those prices in mind, both are relatively affordable considering the amount of content presented throughout the set.  Even when shipping and handling are included into the costs, audiences will agree that neither price is overly expensive.  When one takes this into consideration along with the noted content, the whole of this set proves a welcome addition to any Hendrix fan’s library.  As noted earlier, when one considers all of the elements together, they prove Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition one of the year’s top new music re-issues, if not the year’s best so far.

Sony Legacy’s recently released Jimi Hendrix recording Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is a welcome addition to any Hendrix fan’s library.  That is due in no small part to the set’s extensive primary content, which includes the original pressing of the groundbreaking record, a full collection of the album’s demos and outtakes, a previously released documentary focusing on the album’s creation and a full live performance from 1968 at the Hollywood Bowl.  The secondary content presented inside the set’s companion “book” adds eve more entertainment and insight for audiences to appreciate.  When all of the noted content is considered along with the set’s average (and mode) price, the whole presentation proves to be money well-spent.  Keeping everything in mind, the re-issue in whole proves to be not only a welcome addition to any Hendrix fan’s library, but also one of the year’s top new music re-issues, if not its bet so far.  Electric Ladyland: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is available now.  More information on this and other Jimi Hendrix releases is available online now at:










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