20 February 2017

HARVEY MANDEL - Snake Pit (2016)


The new Harvey Mandel album - Snake Pit, on Tompkins Square Records is dynamite. Featuring six new songs (and a couple of old ones) Snake Pit is Harvey Mandel's fifteenth album and his first to be widely distributed in twenty years.

If you've heard Mr. Mandel's guitar work with Canned Heat you'll have an idea of his sound. Blues-infected and dirty...physical...muscular... with a strong bottom end, but it's also often ornate, elegant, and heady. 

He's a thoughtful player, who can play a barrage of notes if needed but might just choose to kill you with a single-note solo instead. He's no show-off, rather, like all greats, he does his thing and hopes that you catch up to it.

Mandel can be slyly futuristic, and at the same time primitive. At times recalling the work of Trower, Hendrix, Page, Nelson, Carlos, etc...the usual gang...yet he remains wholly himself, and like Willy and the other gentlemen Mandel isn't afraid to take chances with jazz, funk, blues phrasings, and like Santana (or McLaughlin) he soars as he solos straight through your soul. Sustain set to Eternity, baby. 

Deeply southern funky, 
hard diving west coast blues, 
upholstered in Detroit, 
Mandel's guitar like a Cadillac, 

Raised in Chicago, Mandel made a name for himself in San Francisco in the late sixties, jamming with the likes of the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, later he went on to join John Mayall's band, and later found The Pure Food and Drug Act.

Harvey "The Snake" Mandel's third gig with Canned Heat was at Woodstock. His first was at Fillmore West when Canned Heat's guitarist quit. Mike Bloomfield played one set, Mandel the other.

You might have heard him on two songs on the Rolling Stones 1975 album, Black and Blue. He auditioned to be replacement for Mick Taylor, but that gig went to Ronnie Wood, which only makes sense. Snake Pit is the culmination of all that. It's an impressive career, that was nearly severely shortened by cancer. But #FuckCancer. Harvey Mandel's back with Snake Pit.

In reading about Mandel, the most common descriptor I came across was searing. That's perfectly accurate, but it's also very personal music, heavy, flying, dancing, crawling, feeling, leading, caressing, hammering music... metaljazzbluesrockfunksoulsomethingorothermusic. Whatever it is, it's alive, and it is powerful.

I don't know what his current health status is. I believe he's on the mend, but I do know he's had some serious ugliness, health wise, and I read had to pawn his guitars and sell his publishing to pay for healthcare.

We both know you haven't heard a good, serious, electric, virtuosically dirty guitar album in ages.
Fix that.

Snake Pit is Harvey Mandel's blues. His music should be heard by you. He's not like everyone else. Check him out, then give him your money. Thank-You!

No comments: