Harvey Mandel began playing with Charlie Musslewhite and later joined Canned Heat before being recruited by The Rolling Stones. While enjoying a lucrative music career Mandel produced some amazing solo albums filled with a wide diverse use of sound that blended blues, rock, funk, jazz, and plain out jam session fruit. Snake Box finally gathers a good amount of Mandel’s work in one set.
Snake Box includes Mandel’s solo work from 1968-1972 and features each album in its own sleeve reproduced as the original album cover. It’s all housed in a small square box and features a full color booklet with liner notes from Dave Thompson.
The first album in the set is Mandel’s Cristo Redentor which begins with an experimental track that uses vocals as an instrument. For the most part the album in its entirety is a selection of jam sessions that focuses on blues and jazz playing that really tests your compatibility with Mandel’s guitar sound. On some tracks it felt like Mandel was caught up in the moment, possibly going on longer then needed, but all together some impressive work that proves why Mandel had such a burgeoning career.
Righteous is probably my favorite album from the collection by far. Mandel isn’t afraid to come out of his comfort zone and really hit the ground running with tracks that really lay down the funk as well as tracks that flirt with big band flavor the likes you’d find on a Frank Sinatra album, to just plain old blues jams. Nothing but gold on this one.
Games Guitars Play starts off with a cover of Leaving Trunk which Is pretty good, but no Taj Mahal. Still, the album is the first to feature more then just instrumental jam sessions and offers up a good range of tunes.
Overall, if you’re a blues fan you’re going to love this collection of albums from a guitar player that seems to go unnoticed by the younger generation who still buy Stones and Zeppelin albums and who think Eric Clapton is the end all to guitar. Give this box set a spin and you wont be disappointed. Enjoy.