Harvey Mandel, The Snake
File Between: John Lee Hooker and Wes Montgomery
Comments: Mandel is a blues-rock guitarist with a slightly more advanced harmonic sense than the general run of blues-rock guitarists; at his best he approaches the liquid joy of someone like Duane Allman; at his worst he’s a less-textural Jeff Beck. The Snake is one of a handful of solo records he released in between stints in Little Feat, John Mayall’s band, and one- or two-off collaborations with similarly-minded fellow travellers. It’s instrumental except for one cut, “Uno Ino,” on which he united a John Lee Hooker bookie to a high, wispy vocal and sounds like a cut-rate Marc Bolan. The rest is perfectly serviceable instrumental rock, “tasty” if that communicates anything to you, and never too inexcusably noodly if it doesn’t. Nothing revelatory, but if it’s your bag, you’ll dig it.
A Keeper? Instrumental rock is always a tricky proposition; unlike jazz, it can’t really just set a mood or fade into the background: it demands you pay attention to it, and then too often refuses to reward the attention. Mandel does not manage to satisfactorily square the circle.
Vinyl Rip: Pegasus