Album Reviews

Harvey Mandel

Snake Pit

Artist:     Harvey Mandel

Album:     Snake Pit

Label:     Tompkins Square

Release Date:     11/18/2016

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Well, here we have it – Harvey “the snake” Mandel returns to the music battlefront with his trademark sustain, slippery fretwork and long-lasting, memorable – at times, near-miraculous – rhythmic command.

Mandel has, of course, been around a while now. A long time, if truth be told. But he’s always been a guy who slips effortlessly from style to style, hard-rockin’ through R&B to twanging, jangling country-offcuts; a musician of immense note who always has a surprise or two tucked up his sleeve and who can never be shunned or ignored. Quite the opposite, in fact. With Mandel, we have a genuine guitar-geek-cum-freak hero to many across the generations.

Mandel has worked with many of the great and good over the decades, not only mastering their individual touches and techniques, but in all probability shaping and influencing them along the way. It’s hard not to think there are flashes of Mandel and his slithering, lingering slide guitar work in the sounds of many of rock’s music nobility.

With Snake Pit, we have an eight track wonder of mostly new material, with a couple of re-covers of previously released material, all bristling with Mandel’s exceptional picking. This is an album that recaptures his ole magic and mojo, pulling out the best from an ageing guitar master who is clearly far from sitting back on the sidelines with a soft drink or light beer. This is full strength, fiery liquor guaranteed to burn through the usual diet of musical froth.

Instead, Snake Pit again shows just how easily Mandel can produce the absolute goods and grab a listener by the scruff to take them off on a full-throttle, roaring rock and solid blues voyage.

-Iain Patience

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