Tommy Bolin

Teaser [The Definitive Teaser]

(CD - 429 Records #17894)

Review by

Might as well get this out of the way first: the release of the three-disc The Definitive Teaser isn't going to clear up all the controversies and debates surrounding the various Tommy Bolin Archives recordings issued in the last half decade. But now the good news: finally...finally, there is a solid, officially remastered version of Tommy Bolin's Teaser available. It's the first -- and inarguably best -- of his two solo albums. Teaser has been remastered with supervision from Greg Hampton and Jeremy Mackenzie. The sound is crisp (not brittle), clean, warm, and largely faithful to the original mix. That said, the only way to own it is with the mandatory purchase of two extra discs of bonus outtakes and alternates from the recording sessions. The liner notes -- which consist of incomplete credits and a brief liner essay by Johnnie Bolin (who was Hampton's co-producer for the comp) -- don't specify what has or has not been released before. There are alternates of "Teaser"; a nearly 14-minute rehearsal version of "Wild Dogs" (complete with Bolin's directive dialogue); a stellar "People, People," where the reggae energy takes a back seat to the guitarist's snaky solo; a longer, funkier "Marching Powder," with gorgeous keyboard work by Jan Hammer and call-and-response saxophone by David Sanborn; and a "Homeward Strut" that is rawer and nastier than the album version, though not superior. Disc two's outtakes include the 16-minute "Flying Fingers," which showcases Bolin going through an enormous bag of tricks in his solos; a nasty "Cookoo" that literally defines funk-rock over a decade before the Red Hot Chili Peppers; and the shape-shifting, swinging, electric jazz jam "Chameleon." The final disc's outtakes include "Crazed Fandango" and "Smooth Fandango," wildly different interpretations of the instrumental jam with stellar uncredited tenor saxophone work on the former, and a 13-minute instrumental version of "Lotus" called "Oriental Sky." The latter reveals Bolin at his most melodic and mindbending best, flowing seamlessly between psychedelic rock and reggae and weaving "A Day in the Life" into his solo. The sound on all three discs is excellent. There isn't any discernible tape hiss, and the entire package reveals the very heart of Bolin's Teaser as a restless, expansive process that was honed into a finely shaped album. Given the price tag -- somewhere around 20 bucks -- The Definitive Teaser is a must-have.

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