* Jimi Hendrix — Valleys of Neptune (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)
Each new posthumous Jimi Hendrix release makes it seem entirely possible that whenever the man plugged in his guitar, a tape machine was rolling to capture whatever he played.
Nearly 40 years after his death comes Valleys of Neptune (due March 9), which contains 12 fully realized studio recordings previously unavailable on a Hendrix album. Aside from three songs having some additional bass and drum tracking done in 1987 (under the guidance of veteran Hendrix producer Chas Chandler), everything else on Valleys of Neptune was recorded between 1967 and 1970 by Hendrix and friends, which include Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.
These songs are by no means leftover late-night, never-ending jams – in fact, the restrained title track lacks a guitar solo, and in no way does the song suffer. While the Neptune renditions of “Stone Free,” “Fire” and “Red House” don’t top the original studio versions, they certainly add more proof that Hendrix was a forward-thinking artist who still had a way to go before reaching his artistic peak.
* Texas Tornados — Esta Bueno! (Bismeaux Records)
Who better to take over for the late Doug Sahm in the Texas Tornados than son Shawn Sahm? After all, he has Tex-Mex music running through his blood, making him a natural fit to sing and play guitar alongside the remaining core of singer/pianist Augie Meyers and singer/accordionist Flaco Jimenez.
Esta Bueno! (available now) melds the past lineup with the current one, as the 13-track album (produced by Shawn Sahm) features songs and performances by his father and fellow late co-founding member Freddy Fender. That said, the qualities that made previous Texas Tornados releases enjoyable – most notably a good sense of humor and Jimenez’s carnivalesque accordion – remain at the forefront on this album. Highlights include “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like I Like,” “If I Could Only” and “Who’s to Blame, Senorita?”
* Old Man Luedecke — My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs (Black Hen Music)
At 34, banjo-strummin’ Canadian Chris Luedecke isn’t anywhere near the same age as Pete Seeger, but the folk legend is among the rootsy acts that are stylistic touchstones for the man who bills himself Old Man Luedecke.
My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs (due March 16), Old Man Luedecke’s follow-up to the Juno Award-winning Proof of Love, is a full-band effort with name-brand players, including bassist Keith Lowe and fiddle/mandolin player Tim O’Brien. While folk, bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music are at the heart of Old Man Luedecke’s latest, there are some light rock ‘n’ roll touches that don’t disrupt the big picture. With its steady beat and dry vocal, “Woe Betide the Doer of the Deed” could be a long-lost, easygoing Tom Petty recording, and there’s a little bit of Roger McGuinn in Luedecke’s voice as he sings “My Love Comes Stepping Up the Stairs.”
* The Postelles — White Night (Astralwerks/Capitol)
No wonder The Postelles were tapped to participate in the Who tribute show earlier this month at Carnegie Hall: This promising New York band has a punchy sound that tips its hat to very early Who material. There are serious shades of The Strokes in “Looking Glass,” which is not a surprise considering Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. produced the three new songs on this EP (and the upcoming Postelles album as well). White Night also includes an iTunes exclusive remix of the song “Sleep on the Dance Floor” by Grizzly Bear‘s Chris Taylor.
— By Chris M. Junior