Monday, April 11, 2016

Harvey Mandel - 1968 - Cristo Redentor

Harvey Mandel 
Cristo Redentor

Original album:
01. Wade In The Water (A.Cooke/James W.Alexander) - 7:48
02. Lights Out (Harvey Mandel) - 4:51
03. Bradley's Barn (Mandel) - 3:15
04. You Can't Tell Me (Mandel/Dino Valente) - 4:17
05. Nashville 1 A.M. (Mandel/Abe Kesh) - 3:37
06. Christo Redentor (Duke Pearson) - 3:46
07. Before Six (A.Frazier) - 6:27
08. The Lark (Mandel/Kesh) - 4:37
09. Snake (Mandel) - 3:45
10. Long Wait (Mandel/Barry Goldberg) - 2:43
Barry Goldberg (1969):
11. Spirit Of Trane (Barry Goldberg) - 4:00
Canned Heat (1970):
12. My Time Ain't Long (Alan Wilson) - 3:46
13. Let's Work Together (Wilbert Harrison) - 2:47
14. That's All Right (Jimmy Rogers) - 5:28
Pure Food and Drug Act (1972):
15. A Little Soul Food (Don Harris/Shuggie Otis) - 4:02
16. What Comes Around Goes Around (Pure Food & Drug Act) - 4:19
17. My Soul's On Fire (D.Harris/Mandel/P.Lagos/V.Conte) - 4:12
Love (1974):
18. Which Witch Is Which (Arthur Lee) - 1:57

- Harvey Mandel - guitar
- Peter Drake - steel guitar
- Art Starvro - bass
- Bob Moore - bass
- Hargus Robbins - piano
- Kenny Buttery - drums
- Eddie Hoh - drums
- Chip Martin - rhythm guitar
- Bob Jones - rhythm guitar (02,09)
- Nick De Caro - piano (06), strings and horns arrangements
- Charlie Musselwhite - harp (08,10)
- Barry Goldberg - organ and electric piano (08,10)
- Stephen Miller - organ, piano (01,06,07), strings and horns arrangements
- Larry Easter - tenor sax (07), strings and horns arrangements
- Armando Perezza - conga (01)
- Carter Collins - conga (07)
- Grahame Bond - piano (04)
- Catherine Gotthofer - harp (06)
- Jacqueline May Allen, Edna Wright, Julia Tillman, Carolin Willis - voices (06)

In the mold of Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, and Mike Bloomfield, Mandel is an extremely creative rock guitarist with heavy blues and jazz influences. And like those guitarists, his vocal abilities are basically nonexistent, though Mandel, unlike some similar musicians, has always known this, and concentrated on recordings that are entirely instrumental, or feature other singers. A minor figure most known for auditioning unsuccessfully for the Rolling Stones, he recorded some intriguing (though erratic) work on his own that anticipated some of the better elements of jazz-rock fusion, showcasing his concise chops, his command of a multitude of tone pedal controls, and an eclecticism that found him working with string orchestras and country steel guitar wizards. Mandel got his first toehold in the fertile Chicago white blues-rock scene of the mid-'60s (which cultivated talents like Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, and Steve Miller), and made his first recordings as the lead guitarist for harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite. Enticed to go solo by Blue Cheer producer Abe Kesh, Harvey cut a couple of nearly wholly instrumental albums for Phillips in the late '60s that were underground FM radio favorites, establishing him as one of the most versatile young American guitar lions. He gained his most recognition, though, not as a solo artist, but as a lead guitarist for Canned Heat in 1969 and 1970, replacing Henry Vestine and appearing with the band at Woodstock. Shortly afterward, he signed up for a stint in John Mayall's band, just after the British bluesman had relocated to California. Mandel unwisely decided to use a vocalist for his third and least successful Philips album. After his term with Mayall (on USA Union and Back to the Roots) had run its course, he resumed his solo career, and also formed Pure Food & Drug Act with violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris (from the '50s R&B duo Don & Dewey), which made several albums. In the mid-'70s, when the Rolling Stones were looking for a replacement for Mick Taylor, Mandel auditioned for a spot in the group; although he lost to Ron Wood, his guitar does appear on two cuts on the Stones' 1976 album, Black & Blue. Recording intermittently since then as a solo artist and a sessionman, his influence on the contemporary scene is felt via the two-handed fretboard tapping technique that he introduced on his 1973 album Shangrenade, later employed by Eddie Van Halen, Stanley Jordan, and Steve Vai.

Unless you’re able to find “Cristo Redentor” [which means Christ The Redeemer in Portuguese] with the bonus material, this album is for all intent and purposes an instrumental bit of wanderlust from a far overlooked artist, a session and sideman of the first caliber, a man who’s played with the likes of John Mayall, Canned Heat, Charlie Musselwhite, and with the departure of Mick Taylor, auditioned for the Rolling Stones.

Mandel’s sound is all his own, with John Mayall once describing it as “Harvey’s wall of sound,” then going to say that while brilliant and all encompassing, that Harvey’s vision would have changed the course and structure of Mayall’s vision ... so he took his Gibson 355 and set out to see what doors he could open with his mastery of controlled feedback, delay, and penchant for blues and jazz infused psychedelia.  People often wave off psychedelia as nothing more than a brief moment in time, belonging mainly to Jimi Hendrix.  But listening to Mandrel’s arrangements, arrangements that are tight, restrained, controlled, well constructed, fluid, and adventurous without moving into the world of progressive music, it’s easy to hear that this is a man with a vision ... equal to anything The Paul Butterfield Blues Band did on their hypnotic outing “East West.”

This is a late night adventure, and there’s a reason this album lends itself to a wee hours of the morning listening, where Mandrel gathered together a host of talent ... Kenny Buttry and Bob Moore, who would soon bring Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” to life, the Wrecking Crew rhythm section of Eddie Hoh and Art Stavro, along with Stalwarts, who would be a guiding force for nearly all of the early Monkees’ sessions, Pete Drake, a Nashville genius on pedal steel, and finally, his long time friend and collaborator Barry Goldberg, who’s responsible for the funkier sides.   There’s no magic here, no accidents, it’s because of this grouping of talent, that “Cristo Redentor” flowers with such variety and intensity, never sounding dated, styled, or locked into a theme.

This is one of those brilliant albums that cries for a full bodied stereo, one that can deliver and channel the dream.  Listening to “Cristo Redentor” is not a step back in time, nor is it a step forward, it rather seems always to be in the moment ... and that moment is a pure delight.

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