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The Colin Mandel Group: Strange and Savage Tales . . . (1995)

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First off, I deeply regret to have heard of Colin Mandel's passing on in the Spring of 2002. He was a very gifted musician and composer and will be missed. Many a fusion and guitar fan awaited the release set to follow this one. Alas, that seems unlikely as Mandel was reportedly having trouble finding musicians to properly play his newest compositions with him.

This is what I call a "showcase" release where the artist is so creative in many ways that he includes the best recordings that represent the many as-pects of his interests. These recordings span a four year period of 1990 to 1994. There is tight and hard-hitting fusion rock of a complexly mixed Bill Connors meets Steve Morse nature. There is straight up jazz guitar for that laid-back, nite-club setting. There are syncopated yet dreamy Dixie Dregsian balladic progressions. Mandel deftly relaxes and brightly burns on his axe very similar to Morse. Compositions warp and twist in a unique Mandel way.

Ah yes, there is even acoustic solo guitar that weaves together a Will Ackerman and Alex De Grassi type of saunter — a very Windham Hill moment!

And for those of us needing avant-garde and experimental soundscapes Mandel crafts one song in a way that even Fripp fans would appreciate. They are odd guitar groanings that Frisell and Torn would applaud with flashes of even spontaneous whole tonal funk.

The final cut, (perhaps in more ways than it appeared at the time), blends jazz fusion, progressive rock, and jazz into an outro that echoes Connors, Holdsworth, Morse, and even a nod to math-rock of Fripp.

For a taste of Mandel=s chops finesse in his tightest fusion moments I suggest the first two tracks, "Manic Obsession" and "Strange and Savage Tales". A recommended listen. Soon to be a collector's item for fusion lovers . . .

Track Listing: Manic Obsession, Strange and Savage Tales (from the Plastic City), Unfulfilled Midnight, Virginia, Count Me Out, The End of Childhood Summers, Jeni, Church of Moments (part one), Church of Moments (part two)

Personnel: Colin Mandel, Jimmy Johnson, Chris Wabich, Clark Souter, Anders Swanson, Dean Schmidt.

Record Label: Outer Banks Records

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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