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Harvey Mandel’s Baby Batter – A Forgotten Classic

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Harvey Mandel’s heavily jazz-influenced 1971 blues album Baby Batter features brilliant, fiery fretwork from the former Canned Heat guitarist.

The opening title cut starts with a long lead organ solo, with Mandel slowly ramping up the rhythm guitar bursts until he soars into the fray with an extended lead guitar solo that is at once syncopated and oddly rhythmic. Midnight Sun, the second track, has a much lighter and freer sound, with Mandel holding back on the furious guitar attack. An interesting break in the middle of the song leads to a funky drum solo, followed by a bass lead heading to strings, and then Mandel comes back in with his tastily refined lead guitar. Mandel recorded a blazing version of this cut as Midnight Sun 2 on his 1973 album Shangrenade. The third cut, One Way Street, opens with a furious guitar burst, and he shifts gears a few times, varying the speed and sound of his playing.

The rest of the album has much the same flavor – fiery, passionate instrumental blues-rock deeply rooted in jazz. Each song has a different feel to it, but Mandel’s guitar dominates throughout. Heavily laden with fuzz, wah and volume, explosive bursts of frenzied guitar followed by tasty, melodic lines. The pyrotechnics may seem tame by the standards set by the shredders of the eighties, but the songwriting, passion and intensity are, in my opinion, far superior.

On his 1973 recording Shangrenade, Mandel would introduce the rock world to the finger-tapping technique long used by Flamenco artists, and made famous since by such luminaries as Eddie Van Halen and Stanley Jordan.
If you’re a fan of the classic Jeff Beck fusion albums, Al Di Meola’s passion with Return to Forever or on his early solo recordings Elegant Gypsy and Casino, or the electric recordings of Michael Bloomfield, this is a recording you’ll want to lay your hands on.

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About Taloran

  • Eric Olsen

    very cool, thanks for the reminder, love that Harve nad his slippery sound

  • http://www.bandanablues.com Beardo

    Love Harvey,
    Thanks for reminding me about him. I will play him on my weekly internet radio show….

    B

  • Eric Olsen

    please tell us where to find your show, Beardo

  • Taloran

    If I can get Harvey a little air time, I’ve done my job! Thanks, Beardo! Where do we find your show?

  • Eric Olsen

    Alrighty, we have Beardo’s link fixed.

  • Taloran

    Thanks, Eric.

  • http://www.bandanablues.com Beardo

    Sorry Taloran (and others),

    Thanks for the info fix! I just stumbled across your homepage and took a short tour while incredibly tired.

    I’m new to BLOGing but always enjoyed leaving my mark on toilet stalls, too. I’ll be back! Thanks for existing.

    BTW, I’d like to put in a plug for a e-zine I work for, Blueswax.com and our sister publication (old school print magazine) Blues Revue.

    I pledge to find Harvey and do an article/interview with him, if possible. Thanks again for reminding me of him.

    B

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  • thelmo

    i have got an old harvey mandel record named ELECTRONIC PROGRESS with the first title Baby Batter – was this song released on two albums?

  • Taloran

    I don’t have Electronic Progress, and the online Bible (All Music Guide – http://www.allmusic.com) does not have a song list for that album, so I can’t definitively answer Thelmo’s question in comment 9. However, it is uncommon for an artist to release two different songs with the same title without appending the title (such as “Another Brick in the Wall part 3″) so my guess is that it’s the same tune. The length of Baby Batter on the album of the same name is 3:45 – is that about right for your album, Thelmo?

  • TJ

    There is no bigger Harvey fan.

    Have nearly every LP on which he played (his own, w/ Heat, w/ Mayall, w/ Harris, w/ Musselwhite, w/ Stones)

    For more than a decade I have searched for Pure Food and Drug Act recording to no avail.

    Help a jonesing fan

    Trond

  • HW Saxton Jr

    Harvey Mandel is a criminally underrated
    guitarist.”Hank The Ripper” off of the
    “Baby Batter” LP should be a dexterity
    test for any aspiring Blues player.That
    muthaluvva just burns.Harv’s guitar work
    on the later Canned Heat stuff is smokin
    too & very Keith Richardsesque in spots.

    It’s easy to see why he was considered
    as a replacement for Mick Taylor when he
    (Mick)left The Stones. Harvey also does
    a fine version of “El Christo Redemptor”
    which has been sampled numerous times by
    different Hip-Hop artistes.

    Great post.You got some good taste there
    amigo. Rock On!!!

  • Daniel

    Just got thru burning a cd from my pure food and drug act LP WOW forgot how good this Lp is. Just a reminder for Harvey fans. There is a new release of John Mayall recorded live in Canada with the USA Union band. Harvey cooks thru both cds. This is a must for all harvey fans. The CD is titled JOHN MAYALL ROCK THE BLUES TONIGHT. buy it!!

  • youngedward

    hit your blog while on an old school “harvey” internet surf. was looking for all and any harv cd’s, cd’s he played on and boots. i will never forget the night i saw him at the fillmore east when he was into’d with Canned Heat for the first time. all the ole Heat fans got in an up roar and started yelling ‘where’s Henry”. as I recall “sunflower” done went round the far end for a year or two off a few too many doses. Harvey proceeded to pin everyone to the back of their seats with some of the most powerful, powerhouse geeeetaarrr it has been my priviledge to ever hear. Hve been a fan ever since and am now looking to fill any and all holes in my collection of this truly under appreciated and under valued artist!!!

  • Taloran

    YoungEdward:
    I have a significant, though far from complete, collection of Harvey (on vinyl except where noted).
    It includes the following:
    Baby Batter (CD)
    Lick This (CD)
    Blues from Chicago
    Get Off in Chicago
    Cristo Redentor
    Games Guitars Play
    Righteous
    Shangrenade
    The Snake
    Pure Food and Drug Act
    blasts from MY PAST (Barry Goldberg)

    Unfortunately, AllMusic.com no longer has an “appears on” feature, but I’m sure I have other vinyl with Harvey on it – I’ll have to go down in the basement and check. Feel free to drop me an email!

    Not to say anything bad about Henry Vestine, but in my opinion, he was only the second best guitarist to play for Canned Heat.

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