Exposé Online banner

Harvey Mandel — Snake Pit
(Tompkins Square TSQ 5296, 2016, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-10-08

Snake Pit Cover art

From his earliest days in Charlie Musselwhite’s blues band, and playing for organist Barry Goldberg, guitarist Harvey Mandel has had a very distinct sound, his trademark being a seemingly efforless sustain and controlled feedback, as well as unusual phrasing and two-hand tapping long before others who are often credited with inventing that technique watched from the audience as Mandel pioneered it. Throughout a lifetime of solo releases, stints with Canned Heat, John Mayall, Pure Food and Drug Act, The Rolling Stones, and of late a six year battle with cancer, he has continued performing and recording. Snake Pit is as strong a release as any he has released to date, eight gritty instrumentals that straddle the rock, blues, and jazz idioms, showcasing his abilities throughout. The title track, which opens the disc, is a bluesy rock number that pushes all the boundaries and offers the listener an unmistakable swath of his signature sound. Joining him are drummer Ryan Jewell, bassist Anton Hatwich, keyboardist Ben Boye, and support guitarist Brian Sulpizio, along with conga player Jose Najera. He took the opportunity here to reimagine four tunes culled from his earlier recordings, the first being “Space Monkeys,” which originally appeared on his 1997 album Planetary Warrior. “Jackhammer” originally appeared on his 1999 techno album Lick This, now reworked as a funky and muscular rock number with the full band supporting. “Buckaroo” is a stirring and introspective blues-rock number with amazing shred power throughout, pulling all kinds of unusual sounds out of his six-string. “Before Six” was a jazz number on his debut album back in 1968; here it gets a more funky and gritty reworking, with two guitars dueling with electric piano and organ, surely one of the album’s highlights. “Ode to B.B.” is an upbeat blues number that closes the album nicely. All taken, Snake Pit is a rough and ready high-energy workout from the first note to the last.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Harvey Mandel

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Rick Wakeman - The Masters – Between 1982 and 1995 Wakeman released a staggering 35 recordings! None of these are known to more than a few people (I have only seen about four of them myself), so the convenience of this...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues