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The Rough Cut 3/26/10: Hendrix album brings memories

March 26, 2010 - Keith Frederick

Sometimes, even in the cynical newspaper business, you get a pleasant surprise.

Each Thursday morning, I come in to work and pull up the Billboard charts for inclusion in the week’s Go section. But last week’s album charts had a little gift inside for me.

There it was, perched between Lady Antebellum and Gary Allan in the Top 5 ... Jimi Hendrix.

“Valleys of Neptune,” a disc of unreleased tracks from the king of Electric Ladyland, has been a smash hit — it’s still in the Top 10 best-selling albums this week.

But it doesn’t matter much to me how well it sells, although I’m happy that it’s doing well. Jimi Hendrix, to me, is all about nostalgia.

As much as any other artist, Hendrix was my gateway drug to real rock music. I got the Hendrix greatest hits collection “The Ultimate Experience” when I was in junior high school, as part of one of those “Give us a penny, we’ll give you 12 CDs” deals from Columbia House.

After grabbing my preferred “rock” music at the time — which didn’t extend much beyond Billy Joel and Bon Jovi — I decided to give a few other singers a try. Those wild-card choices were Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne, and they changed my whole perception of music.

Ozzy would become my favorite singer, but Hendrix opened me up to the world of the electric guitar, which ultimately led me to much more.

At 14, hearing Hendrix rip through “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a seminal moment. “Purple Haze,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Voodoo Child,” “Fire” ... these are the songs that led me to classic rock. “Red House” and the “Band of Gypsys” album was my earliest introduction to the blues.

In the biblical world of my musical growth, Hendrix begat Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, The Beatles and everything that followed.

In a fun coincidence, I recently threw on some Hendrix, before I had heard of the “Valleys of Neptune” release, while I was cooking dinner. With pride, I told my daughter to “pay attention, because this is the greatest guitar player ever.”

As she raised her head to listen, I smiled from ear to ear.

The dead season

The first few months of the year and the post-Oscar season are traditionally the weakest time of the year for film, but ... seriously? Half of the films released in these first few months shouldn’t even have been made.

“The Spy Next Door”? “From Paris With Love”? “The Bounty Hunter”?

And let’s all pretend that actors like Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke were never in “Brooklyn’s Finest,” OK? I really think that would be better for all of us.

I understand that stars have to work, but come on.

I’d rather see Benicio del Toro covered in green slime on the Kids Choice Awards than covered in fur in junk like “The Wolfman.”

Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick’s column usually runs the third Friday of the month in Go. He can be reached at kfrederick@ or at 9467466. His column is online at

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