Tommy Bolin

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Although this CD of material Tommy Bolin failed to release during his lifetime was "culled from band demos, solo demos, live tracks, and jam sessions," there's an inexcusable total absence of information as to when and where any of these ten tracks were recorded. Other than that unfortunate lack of documentation, this turns out to be a surprisingly worthwhile set of archival material that's not solely of interest to Bolin obsessives. Much of it's far more rootsy and low-key than many would expect given the hard rock that he played on much of what he did release. As absurd as the comparison might seem, he sounds kind of like a Marc Bolan without the warble on the numerous wholly or partially acoustic folksy, bluesy tracks, which have a bittersweet sensitivity. The louder, more electric half of the disc isn't as ingratiating, but does display Bolin's skills as a hard rock guitarist and, again perhaps surprisingly to some listeners, one who was adept at fusion-like moves. Some of the more familiar tunes include "Savannah Woman," here given a jazzy treatment; an acoustic "Standing in the Rain," which was done in a different arrangement for the James Gang's Bang; and the acoustic "Oh Carol," which is an early version of the James Gang's "From Another Time." As the sound quality's good, this would only need better background information to take a place of pride as a first-class dig into the vaults.

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