Tommy Bolin

Great Gypsy Soul

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Did we really need this? Tommy Bolin's life and career were all too short, and to be sure, his own records, along with his work with the James Gang and as a session player, are the stuff of genius. Like many musicians who've passed on, his legacy has been tainted by numerous dodgy bootlegs and unofficial live records that have been released since his passing. While Great Gypsy Soul isn't one of those, one has to wonder what co-producers Greg Hampton and Warren Haynes were thinking. This two-disc set is designed as a "tribute" to Bolin. This set actually features a slew of guitar giants playing over previously unissued Bolin multi-track demos. Some of the other players on this collection include Steve Lukather, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Peter Frampton, Nels Cline, Glenn Hughes, and John Scofield, to name a few. Many of these guitarists also collaborate with one another as well as Bolin's tapes on the second disc, an EP-length piece called "Marching Bag," divided into four "movements." So what could possibly be wrong with such an endeavor -- especially with such brand-name firepower? Bolin's brilliance gets lost in the shuffle due to the original "quality" of the tapes. Tracks like "Teaser," "The Grind," "Wild Dogs," and "Lotus" sound flat and lifeless; the gap between the new recordings and the old ones is huge. Bolin's memory would have been far better served if Hampton and Haynes simply rounded up the same group of players and a decent vocalist or three, and played their asses off in celebration of Bolin's influence and originality. Some of this sounds like they actually want to compete with him. Sad. Skip this.

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