Harvey Mandel is a fantastic guitarist who never settled in a band, although his talents would not have been out of place in virtually any rock band of any kind of the late 60s or 70s. This was his debut album from 1968, and is an intrumental psych blues rock bonanza. The opening track, a version of the old gospel blues track 'Wade In The Water' shows off a variety of styles: he comes in with a filthy fuzz tone over a strings and rhythm groove, before switching to a clean tone to demonstrate his trademark liquid style of play, using volume pedals, panning and delay to awesome effect. This is a real guitar-heads album, with some glorious guitar tones, and some ridiculous sustain that out-Santanas Carlos Santana. It's also beautifully recorded, with a crystal clear mix, and is a joy to listen to. There are great string arrangements aplenty, and the layering of Harvey Mandel's guitar lines is genius: the wah stomp of 'Bradley's Barn' has some scintillating backwards guitar over the top as well as some unusual low end dive bomb noises. The gloriously expressive 'You Can't Tell Me' is even better, as sweet phrases flow into and over one another over a great groove. The sound palette is expanded on a few tracks: the title track has a female choir, and sounds like a prog synthesis of Nelson Riddle and Santana. Then 'Before Six' comes on like fuzzed out acid jazz, with some tremendous horn section blasts and Jimmy Smith type organ duelling with the guitar, and the best bass and drum rocking out of the album. Looking at the sleeve notes, this appears to have been recorded all over the place, and the producer credit says "Believed to be produced by Abe Kesh'. It's amazing that there is such a unity of (fantastic) sound, and that the album has such a strong identity.
Harvey Mandel released a few more solo albums in the following years, and the one I've heard are all pretty decent - they toned down the psychedelic elements a bit, and became slightly more jazzy - Feel The Sound, Shangrenade and Baby Batter are all worth checking out. Lastly - check that classic cover! I'm pleased I've also got this on vinyl.
I haven't included the bonus tracks - buy the cd!
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