Harvey Mandel & The Snake Crew


Here are Marcy Levy, Norton Buffalo, Nick Gravenites, Elvin Bishop, Barry Goldberg and a handful of highly regarded front and side men sharing space with the guitar icon on a disc that probably won’t get the props it so richly deserves. Highlights abound. Gravenites lending his impressive vocals to “So Far So Good,” with his old pal Barry Goldberg on organ is a case in point. Mandel’s guitar work is subtly shredding here, propelled by an array of well executed electronic effects. The opening “It Is What It Is,” with Marcy Levy lending her vocal chops and Norton Buffalo his deep harmonica, Mandel’s voodoo-laden guitar works creates a back street New Orleans atmospheric piece. “Baby Batter II” reminds of a psychedelicized Santana and reprises the title tune of a 1971 LP. This is not a predictable recording. It’s an exciting recording!
“Train Wreck ,” with Buffalo lending eerie harp work to match Mandel’s equally compelling guitar is a standout, as is Buffalo’s tasty vocals on “Have You Seen My Baby.” Levy’s back for a killer “Land of the Free,” and Gravenites returns for “I Had a Life,” and a spectacular “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” is delivered by vocalist Rick Kellogg. “Twizzle Zing” reminds of Jean Luc Ponty with superb violin via Carlos Reyes and keys from Howard Wales.
Buffalo sings and plays on “Laying Around Here With the Blues,” on which Elvin Bishop adds some slick slide. “You’ll Never Know,” with vocals courtesy the Rowan Brothers, has a cool country twinge, and the closer, “Free Flow” is a Mandel tour de force of licks and tricks.
On all of the tunes, it is Harvey Mandel’s guitar work that props, cajoles and motivates. This is clearly the work of a master. He does things on the fret board that very few players on20the scene can get close to. It isn’t just about power blues, it’s about nuance, subtleties and chops that cause the jaw to drop. This is a master work. This is vital.

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