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Harvey Mandel is a guitarist that languishes in relative obscurity when he really should be a household name.
His career began in the mid-60s playing blues guitar with luminaries such as Charlie Musselwhite, Barry Goldberg, Elvin Bishop and Graham Bond. He was invited to join Canned Heat when lead guitarist Henry Vestine quit in 1969. Mandel’s third gig with the band was at Woodstock!
Next he joined John Mayall for two albums – the now classics, USA Union and Back to the Roots. The musicians he connected with through Mayall led to a short lived band called Pure Food and Drug Act. Their only album was critically acclaimed but never troubled the charts.
In 1975, the Rolling Stones auditioned him to replace Mick Taylor – the job that Ron Wood won. Mandel played on two songs (“Hot Stuff” and “Memory Motel”) on the Stones “audition” album Black and Blue that also featured Woody and Wayne Perkins on other cuts.
But if Mandel is famous for anything, it is for developing the two-handed fretboard tapping technique that was later broadly popularized by Eddie Van Halen. (Mandel acknowledges picking up the technique, in a more rudimentary form, from fellow PFaDA bandmate Randy Resnick.) He introduced it on his 1973 solo album Shangrenade on songs such as “Fish Walk.”
Shangrenade was ahead of its time. If you’re a fan of Jeff Beck’s jazz/rock fusion instrumentals on Blow by Blow (1975), you will love Shangrenade as it explores much of the same landscape.
Enjoy… until next week.