The 1971 albums include now-familiar tracks earmarked for the guitar god’s “First Rays of the New Rising Sun” project, never completed or fully formed during Hendrix’s lifetime.
“Rainbow Bridge” has never been officially released on CD. “Cry of Love” was last issued on CD in 1992. Both have been newly remastered.
The tracks from these two albums haven’t exactly been MIA, however, as they’ve been released on various compilations, notably the 1997 “First Rays of the New Rising Sun” reconstruction.
They include “Freedom,” “Ezy Ryder,” “Straight Ahead” and “Angel” (“The Cry of Love”) and “Dolly Dagger,” “Earth Blues,” “Room Full of Mirrors” and “Hear My Train A Comin'” (“Rainbow Bridge”).
Like the rereleases of the Beatles’ American albums, the dual Sept. 16 revivals will serve chiefly to please fans nostalgic for the albums’ running orders from back in the day.
Original artwork is preserved, notably the “Cry of Love” cover drawing of Hendrix by his friend Nancy Reiner.
The rereleases are from the Hendrix estate and partners Legacy/Sony. “Both albums have been remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog masters,” the Hendrix estate said in announcing the albums. Grundman’s many credits include the mono vinyl reissues of the first two Jimi Hendrix Experience albums of last year.
“The Cry of Love” originally was put together after the death of Hendrix by his longtime engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Released five months after the guitarist’s death, it shot to the top of the album charts. Songs were almost all recorded in the studio in late 1969 through mid-1970.
The players included Mitchell, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles of the Band of Gypsys, and Noel Redding (one older track). Guests were Steve Winwood, Stephen Stills and Chris Wood.
Many of the tracks resurfaced in the mid-1990s on “Voodoo Soup,” a project from producer Alan Douglas that was a first stab at reconstructing “First Rays.” That album went out of print, quickly replaced by the Hendrix family’s “New Rays” album.
“Rainbow Bridge” was a lower-profile 1971 project, oddly marketed as the soundtrack to a concert film of the day, although none of the tracks appear in the film. It too was produced by Kramer and Mitchell.
The Hendrix estate talks about the concert film disconnection in its press release about the Hendrix albums’ rereleases:
“Rainbow Bridge” is often misconstrued as being an entirely live album, being that the film of the same name features excerpts of a live Jimi Hendrix performance in Maui. However, Hendrix had no role in the creation of the rambling, unfocused 1971 film.
Half of the “Rainbow Bridge” album’s songs were recorded by Hendrix, Cox and Mitchell as the Cry of Love band.
The studio version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a solo Hendrix recording dating back to 1969. Two other numbers were performed by the Band of Gypsys. Ex-Experience bassist Redding appears on one track, and the Ronettes provide backing vocals on “Earth Blues.”
Not even the sole live track, “Hear My Train A Comin’,” was recorded during the Hawaiian concert featured in the concert film. That original blues number came from Hendrix’s famous performance at Berkeley Community Theatre in May of 1970.