Harvey Mandel – The Snake (1972)

Self-taught guitarist Harvey Mandel began his career in the black blues clubs of Chicago, learning as much as he could from the masters of classic urban blues. Mandel was born in Detroit on March 11, 1945 and raised in Chicago. He began playing guitar while in his early teens and found his inspiration in the sound of the Ventures. Whole new vistas in guitar appreciation opened up for him once he had the chance to hear musicians like Buddy Guy in the small blues clubs of Chicago’s West and South sides. Mandel learned from and performed with such greats as Guy, Albert King, Muddy Waters, and Otis Rush. Mandel got his nickname, “The Snake,” from master blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite, who admired the way Mandel’s left hand would effortlessly snake up and down the guitar neck. He later took on the moniker “The King of Sustain,” for the long, ringing tones he’s able to coax from his instrument.

Mandel´s career began in the late 1960s, after his San Francisco-based manager got him signed to a deal with Phillips, a label distributed by Mercury Records. Mandel‘s first album, Cristo Redentor (1968), was well-received on the then-growing underground radio scene in California, and he followed it with two more albums for Phillips, Righteous in 1969 and Games Guitars Play in 1970.

Mandel‘s fifth album, like Jeff Beck‘s best ’70s efforts, add bluesy, jazzy shadings to a rock base. But The Snake is more firmly entrenched in blues-rock than, say, Blow by Blow. Harvey‘s playing (occasionally augmented by violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris) is always impressive, but the compositions (all but one instrumental) aren’t gripping, and meander too much. It’s not as good as Mandel‘s late-’60s recordings for Philips, but it’s still one of the better early rock-based fusion recordings.


1. “The Divining” Rod  (Written-By – H. Mandel)  – 3:04
2.  “Pegasus”  (Written-By – J. Taylor)  – 3:30
3.  “Lynda Love”  (Written-By – H. Mandel)  – 2:45
4.  “Peruvian Flake”  (Written-By – H. Mandel)  – 3:31
5.  “The Snake”  (Written-By – H. Mandel, L. Taylor)  – 3:15
6.  “Uno Ino”  (Written-By – H. Mandel, J. Carroll, S. Taylor)  – 2:34
7.  “Ode To The Owl”  (Written-By – H. Mandel)  – 2:42
8.  “Levitation”  (Written-By – C. Lloyd, H. Mandel)  – 5:14
9.  “Bite The Electric Eel”  (Written-By – D. Harris, H. Mandel, P. Lagos, R. Resnick, V. Conte)  – 4:15

Companies, etc.



Lead Guitar – Harvey Mandel
Bass – Victor Conte, Chuck Domanico, Larry Taylor, Antonio de la Barreda
Drums – Paul Lagos, Earl Palmer, Adolfo de la Parra
Steel Guitar – Freddie Roulette
Rhythm Guitar – Randy Resnick
Piano – Jim Taylor
Strings – Don “Sugarcane” Harris
Flute – Charles Lloyd
Organ – Kevin Burton

Release: 1972
Recorded at: The Village Recorder, Winter of 1971 & 1972
Genre: Rock, Funk / Soul
Style: Blues Rock, Funk, Jazz-Rock
Length: 30:15

Label – Janus Records

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