Harvey Mandel

Snake Box

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AllMusic Review by

At long last guitarist Harvey "The Snake" Mandel gets some respect in his home country. Mandel has played with everyone. Beginning in the 1960s, he played with the Barry Goldberg-Steve Miller Blues Band and Charlie Musselwhite' he moved on to Canned Heat (his third gig with them was at Woodstock), then to Graham Bond and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He has also played with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and literally a hundred others. Like Jeff Beck, who also prefers a low profile, Mandel pioneered his own sound and it's instantly recognizable no matter what he happens to be playing. This set collects the first five of his 12 solo albums and as a bonus contains a rarity. While there isn't a weak record in the bunch, some shine more brightly than others. His debut, Cristo Redentor, was recorded in both San Francisco and Nashville and features Goldberg-Miller bandmates, Dan Healy as one of its engineers, and Kenny Buttrey and Pete Drake, among others. 1969's Righteous has string and horn charts by no less Shorty Rogers and contains a smoking read of Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba." It's interesting to note this because the Latin rock groove in the tune co-exists historically and geographically with Santana's explorations. The fiery jazz rock album Baby Batter issued in 1971 contains an all-star cast that includes bassist Larry Taylor, keyboardists Howard Wales, and Mike Melvoin, percussionists Jeff Porcaro and Emil Richards (drums were played by Colin Bailey) and Big Black -- who conducted the band -- with more charts from Rogers. The aforementioned rarity is a heretofore unreleased jam session at San Francisco's Matrix in 1968. Playing with Mandel are Miller, Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, and Mickey Hart. While the sound on these recordings is fine, the album sleeves are reproduced by scale, so personnel credits are absolutely tiny. The booklet contains a liner essay by Dave Thompson and album and track titles. It's a bit of a budget presentation but so is the price, and the music makes that tradeoff totally worth it.

Track Listing - Disc 6

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
36:47 Amazon
2
3:59 Amazon
3
9:08 Amazon
4
20:26 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick