Guitar Great Harvey Mandel Releasing New Album

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Harvey Mandel

Harvey Mandel

Guitarist Harvey Mandel, a member of the 1960s blues band Canned Heat who performed at Woodstock and who has also worked with the Rolling Stones and others, is releasing his 15th studio solo album, Snake Pit. The recording will be out November 18 on the Tompkins Square label, in LP, CD and digital formats. Pre-order is available here.

Mandel, whose nickname is “The Snake,” emerged from the Chicago blues scene of the late ’60s. His career began at Twist City and other local hotspots, sharing stages with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Buddy Guy. He came up in that scene alongside Charlie Musselwhite, Mike Bloomfield, Barry Goldberg and Steve Miller, leading to an invitation from Bill Graham to open for Cream at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium in August 1967.

Mandel was a member of Canned Heat, appearing with them at Woodstock (he returned to the current lineup of the band earlier in this decade). He played on numerous John Mayall albums, and on the Rolling Stones’ 1975 LP Black and Blue (“Hot Stuff”, “Memory Motel”), having auditioned for Mick Taylor’s job, which ultimately went to Ron Wood.

Related: What are the surviving Woodstock performers up to today?

Mandel’s solo albums, such as Cristo Redentor, Baby Batter and Righteous, are perennial favorites of guitar fans and have been sampled by DJs.

Listen to the title track from Harvey Mandel’s Snake Pit album…

Snake Pit, Mandel’s first widely distributed album in 20 years (and first since battling cancer), was recorded in two days at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California and features Mandel with fellow Chicago-based musicians Ben Boye (keys), Ryan Jewell (drums), Brian Sulpizio (guitar), and Anton Hatwich (bass), who have all played with singer/songwriter Ryley Walker. According to a press release from the label, Mandel and the band had not met previously, nor had they rehearsed. He played snippets of song ideas for the band on his iPhone, and then they laid down a track in one or two takes. Minimal overdubs with strings and percussion were added. The album contains six new original compositions by Mandel and two revisited songs: “Baby Batter” from his 1971 Janus LP of the same name, and “Before Six” by Larry Frazier, which appears on his first album, Cristo Redentor.

Track list:
Snake Pit
Space Monkeys
Baby Batter
Before Six
Ode to B.B.

Watch Canned Heat (with Mandel) perform “On the Road Again” at Woodstock in 1969

Best Classic Bands Staff

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