of the Month, May 1998
H.E.A.R. is thrilled to honor legendary guitarist, Harvey Mandel!
Harvey Mandel ranks as one of the pioneers of not only blues-rock
but of virtually every sonic trick rock guitarists have come to take for
granted. Along with Mike Bloomfield, he pushed the blues envelope into
wide-open spaces and upped the ante considerably when he moved to San
Francisco at the height of the Fillmore era. "Without sounding immodest,"
he states, "I would say we were trendsetters in that area of guitar
playing, because it didn't exist before then. There were no Hendrixes
or Claptons when I started playing. There wasn't that much on record -
you couldn't go down to your local record store and get the real stuff
- so my original bible was the Ventures. Then I saw real blues guys like
Buddy Guy playing in person." In addition to his work with Charlie
Musselwhite, John Mayall, Canned Heat and the Rolling Stones, Mandel's
solo LP's are classics - in particular, his debut, Cristo Redentor.
Harvey Mandel has a knack for extending the accepted blues vocabulary,
thus transcending the genre. "It wasn't so much what I was listening
to," he points out, "it was more the physical part of the guitar.
I wanted to be able to express it more like a violin or a harmonica; for
some reason I always went for that sustain, long before I even knew what
it was. Then feedback came as a result of that." (This was incidentally,
long before the advent of Marshall amps. "No, it was mostly on little
Fender amps atfirst, using different tricks, and I eventually used an
all -tube, low quality Bogan pa amplifer. Had the greatest natural sustain.")
Just as his landmark Cristo Redentor was more than a 12-bar blues treatise
(its use of congas inspired none other than Carlos Santana to add the
instrument to his line-up), Harvey is much more than a straight blues
guitarslinger. "The truth of the matter is, I always considered myself
more of an all-around guitarist," he says, "although my roots
come from the blues. But I'm as much a rock player as I am a blues player,
as much ajazz player in my own little way. It's a melting pot of all those
styles put together."