Sunday, February 1, 2015

CD Review: Cleopatra Records Lets "The Snake" Out Of The New Harvey Mandel Box Set

Legendary American blues guitarist Harvey Mandel has had a resurgence in popularity since returning to the music scene in 2006 with his most recently studio album "Harvey Mandel And The Snake Crew." He also reunited with his band Canned Heat in 2009 for some shows to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their appearance at Woodstock. Since then, Mandel has been a proud warrior in his fight against cancer.

Harvey Mandel's career has brought him everywhere, beginning with Charlie Musselwhite's Southside Band then performing alongside Jerry Garcia and Elvin Bishop and even auditioning as a guitarist for The Rolling Stones. Mandel is probably best known for being the guitarist in Canned Heat during their run of highlights, including their performance at Woodstock.

During the late-sixties/early seventies Harvey Mandel began his solo career with a string of instrumental albums that flew below the radar, but definitely caught the attention of fellow musicians. On January 20th, Cleopatra Records gathered Mandel's first five solo albums together for the "Snake Box." This limited edition box set contains the albums "Cristo Redentor" (1968), "Rightous" (1969), "Games Guitars Play" (1970), "Baby Batter" (1971) and "The Snake" (1972). Each disc comes in a cardboard sleeve that replicates the album's original artwork. From Mandel's psychedelic blues of the late-sixties through the funk-fueled blues of his early seventies albums, Mandel was always in charge and he was the engine that drove his bands, whether it was with Canned Heat, The Rolling Stones, John Mayall and even Bob Dylan.

The real treasure of this six-disc set is the sixth disc, a live recording of Harvey Mandel performing with Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Steve Miller, Mickey Hart and John Chambers at The Matrix in San Francisco, CA in 1968. The four song CD just explodes right from the beginning with a 36-minute jam that is just mind-blowing to hear. The classic blues guitar of "3 O'clock In The Morning" lets you know that this is something special. While the recording of this show may not be up to today's standards, it is certainly a welcome addition to this set. To find out more about this amazing new set of classic blues from Harvey Mandel, please visit

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