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

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Andy Timmons Band - Resolution – Andy Timmons is a guitarist along the lines of Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and Joe Satriani, though to my ear maybe a little more enjoyable because of the variety of styles he covers. His technique is...  (2007) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues