When a popular musician dies it’s never the end. Posthumous releases for our favourite artists have long been a part of the industry. But some resulting releases can end up more like the re-animation of Frankenstein’s monster than the second coming of the messiah.
The latest announcement is that a new Jimi Hendrix album is being compiled for release in March next year. The album, entitled People, Hell and Angels, will aim to bring us a slice of the new experimental material Hendrix was working on just before he passed away. You can hear the inevitable screams of money grabbing and treachery already.
When a musician is hoisted so high upon an unreachable pedestal, such as that Hendrix resides on, it would be almost impossible to satisfy all of their devoted fans. The legacy of his work has had him hailed as the greatest axe wielder the world has ever seen. He is untouchable. Yet the business executives wont let him lay down his guitar just yet.
Stars who leave us before their time always hold a special place within our hearts, but also in the wallets of the record label owners who were once their bosses. Our favourite rockstars’ live fast, die young lifestyles don’t quite tie in with the business plans of the people who control these corporations.
Money is said to be the root of all evil, and seeing our fallen idols being milked dry by the suits and squares of big business is often heart-wrenchingly difficult.
It’s hard to comprehend what the artists themselves would think about this material being announced for obvious logistical reasons (them being dead). Perhaps something similar to the inescapable disgust that socialist hero Che Guevara would feel if he knew he was the subject of one of the most popular and lucrative marketing designs in history.
A musical creation is so personal to an artist that it is incredibly difficult to release something after they have died that accurately represents what they intended it to sound like. The amount of heart and soul a musician pours into their work is not as evident if they are not fully involved with its production before and after initial recording is complete.
Sometimes someone’s legacy is what drives the reasoning behind a posthumous release. The relatives of a lost star may want the world to hear their loved one’s final works to help improve their already high esteem.
However, if the utmost care and respect is not given to the music, it can have the polar opposite effect, destroying the hard graft put into building this iconic image. I say let the dead stay dead. Remember them for what they did while they were on the earth. Not the scraps of unfinished work cobbled together after their corpse has long since gone cold.
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