Tommy Bolin

From the Archives, Vol. 1

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Unfortunately, Tommy Bolin never made it past cult figure status with rock fans. Due to his virtuosic guitar playing and natural gift for songwriting, he probably would have eventually hit it big, but his untimely overdose in December of 1976 wiped out all of those dreams. He's probably best known for short stints in both the James Gang and Deep Purple (right before each group's demise), but writing him off as a heavy metal guitarist is completely unfair. Name a musical style and Bolin mastered it. From the Archives is a collection of grade-A unreleased material, unavailable anywhere else until now. The album collects finished tracks that were shelved, live takes, and studio demos. It also contains a hidden treasure of sorts for Bolin aficionados: several solo acoustic demos recorded by Bolin at home. It's in these stripped-down tracks that the listener gets to hear his fluid guitar playing and underrated voice ("Evening Rain," "Teaser," and "Meaning of Love" are the best of the bunch). And there are plenty of guitar heroics on the jazz-fusion track "Crazed Fandango" (which sounds similar at times to the end jam section of Santana's "Black Magic Woman"). "San Francisco River" is another surprise; it begins as a slow number with a gorgeous guitar melody, and eventually detonates into ear-splitting heavy metal. The only weak link is a woefully out of tune rendition of the rocker "Shake the Devil," which was originally broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour just three months before Bolin's passing. Also, the CD booklet is packed with interesting facts, biographical/song info, quotes, and rare pictures. A great introduction for those unfamiliar with Bolin's many talents, and a mandatory purchase for those already converted, due to the album's wealth of unreleased material.

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