After introducing startling sustained notes and precision-controlled feedback to Chicago blues on Charley Musselwhite’s Stand Back! in 1966, Harvey Mandel moved to San Francisco and began navigating the idiosyncratic path that positioned him as one of the world’s most innovative guitarists on albums including Cristo Redentor, Baby Batter and The Snake. Nicknamed The Snake for his sinuous, winding tone, he relentlessly sought to widen the electric guitar’s horizons, using strings, choirs or effects. He also played with Canned Heat, John Mayall and nearly became a Stone after playing on 1975’s Black & Blue.
Snake Pit is his first widely distributed album in 20 years. It was recorded over two days at Berkley's Fantasy Studios and co-produced by the guitarist and Tompkins Square label boss Josh Rosenthal. Mandel's band is also from Chicago -- keyboardist Ben Boye, drummer Ryan Jewell, guitarist Brian Sulpizio, and bassist Anton Hatwich -- and have all have worked with Ryley Walker.
Harvey Mandel’s story is one of the most intriguing in the world of rock guitar. At 20 he was playing with blues harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite. Later, he joined Canned Heat and, for a time, was pegged as a replacement for Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones (he appears on the 1976 platter Black and Blue). Mandel employed two-handed tapping in his playing before Edward Van Halen’s “Eruption” became the must-learn piece for guitarists of a certain age.
Harvey Mandel — Snake Pit (Tompkins Square)It’s been 50 years since Harvey Mandel’s first appearance on record, and while he still has the Chicago blues influence, he’s traced a long path through rock ‘n’ roll. For every touch of Muddy Waters, at least two hints of his stint with Canned Heat come through. A John Mayall collaboration may color his work, but so does California psych.