Thursday, January 20, 2011

Harvey Mandel - Shangrenade (1973)

For every Harvey Mandel album I get, it becomes harder to write a review without repeating myself (not that I ever promised I wouldn't). The material is all pretty samey, so you're either gonna like it or not. As if to drive that point home, Shangrenade features a sequel to a song from Baby Batter (two albums ago) - it's called Midnight Sun 2. As instrumental music, these songs work effectively in the background, but as a result, if you don't make an effort to pay attention to them, they tend to pass under your radar. The one track that potentially avoids that fate is the aptly-titled Frenzy, a somewhat dissonant jazzy piece that sounds like you would expect, knowing the title.

I don't suppose any of this can really be considered high praise, but the fact remains that Harvey Mandel is a very talented guitarist, and you just might like his music if you're into instrumental guitar-based jazz rock. I still remember the first time I heard him (consciously), his leads were transcendent in the context of the Barry Goldberg and Friends band ("Friends" also included Michael Bloomfield on that album, Recorded Live from 1976). But I guess once you delve into the world of Harvey Mandel, you begin to forget how unique his style is compared to everything else that's out there. Perhaps I should start thinking about getting a hold of some of his work outside the solo realm, with other bands - Canned Heat, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Charlie Musselwhite, and hey, even a track or two with The Rolling Stones!

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