This is Tommy's first "legal" published work. A major accomplishment for a 19 year-old living in Boulder, Colorado -- a town without major record company ties in the late '60's. The lead singer, Candy Givens, sounds like Janis Joplin at times, and was certainly a contemporary of that style of blues. Candy's husband David played bass. These three were the musical leaders of this very talented psychodelic blues band, which also included drums, keys and sax/flute.
Zephyr "Goin' Back to Colorado"
James Gang "Bang"
To some, this is Tommy's best and most diverse work. Note that almost every song is written or co-written by Bolin, and that his trademark sounds, song structures, and "funky breaks" show up frequently. Alexis is the musical masterpiece, but every song is memorable in it's own way. The single, "Must Be Love" may be the song that got the most commercial airplay of all of the songs in Tommy's catalogue (unless you lived in Boulder or Sioux City, in which case there were clearly other more frequent radio requests!).
James Gang "Miami"
This capable follow-up to "Bang" is underrated and often overlooked. It doesn't stand up as well as "Bang", but the songs are memorable and it's an obvious "must" for all Bolin fans.
Billy Cobham "Spectrum"
Although "Teaser" is the crown jewell from Tommy's collection, Billy Cobham's debut album "Spectrum" received as much, if not more, critical acclaim. Consider: "Best Jazz Album, 1975" -- Billboard Magazine. It was ground-breaking in the genre of "Jazz-Rock Fusion", and it greatly influenced guitar players and other musicians around the globe (e.g., Jeff Beck, who changed his style of playing based on this release). "Stratus" is the biggest and coolest monster on this disc, and alone is worth the price of the release. Jan Hammer fans also seek this album out. The album version has some extra verbal sounds at the beginning of one song that the CD version doesn't have. In 1998, a riff from "Stratus" was used in a Victoria's Secret commercial campaign ("English Lace"), and on the MTV cartoon comedy, "Daria".
Alphonse Mouzon "Mind Transplant"
Often (too often) mentioned in the same breath with Cobham's "Spectrum", this release stands up completely on it's own. Similar to "Spectrum" primarily because we have a talented fusion drummer solo artist who hires Tommy for his guns, Mouzon and Bolin nevertheless created something very different from "Spectrum". It produces a different, and perhaps more accessable blend of Jazz and Hard Rock. Bolin is allowed (on "his" songs) to be the featured instrumentalist by himself, whereas with Cobham he had to share the spotlight (40/60) with Jan Hammer. The title song "Mind Transplant", "Nitroglycerin" and "Golden Rainbows" display Bolin at his most lethal. Hard to find on vinyl (Lee Ritenour fans have competed for it for decades now), it was re-released on CD in 1993 with a bonus track "The Real Thing", which is a 15 minute jam with Tommy and Alphonse (and Stan Sheldon on bass!). Other jams from this period have turned up on the bootleg, "Lost Performances".
Moxy (1st Album) "MOXY"
It is my belief, until I'm proven wrong, that Tommy Bolin's musical stamp is on 90% of this album. Licks here and there, funky breaks, and just plain guitar "moxie" throughout most of the songs point in ONLY his direction. Listen to "Bang" and "Come Taste The Band" all the way through, then put on "Moxy", and you can tell what's up wif dat. In interviews, Tommy claims he only did the job for the money and that he's not even sure what songs he's on. Bullshit. I think he took the lead, and for whatever reason didn't want the acclaim.
Deep Purple "Come Taste The Band"
If you are a die hard, Ian Gillan-lovin', Ritchie Blackmore fan, you probably HATED this album when you first got curious enough to buy it. Bolin fans remain awestruck by it's power and grace, but you probably thought, "What is this disco, Motown bullshit?" But admit it! Decades later, you play it MORE than "Machine Head" on your way to work, DON'T YOU! And just TRY to compare "Battle Rages On" to this well-produced opus. Glenn Hughes likes this album, and this version of "Purple", best. He is featured more than on the Mark 3 material, and some of his personal "classics" came from this album (e.g., "Gettin' Tighter", "You Keep On Movin").
For the Rolling Stone review of Come Taste The Band (Rolling Stone, February, 1976), click HERE
For a GREAT article on Tommy's days with Deep Purple (the band, the album, the tour, and the demise) written by Dave Thompson, click HERE.
Deep Purple "Last Concert in Japan"
This album is most memorable because it features the "Teaser" song, "Wild Dogs" -- and it's a rousing version. Other songs on the album have been largely dissed because of sound quality, lack of "tightness" in the band, and other bitching and moaning. It remained the only "official live Bolin music" available until the late '80's, and it was a staple of many fans' collections. It has plenty of great moments.
This was dubbed "The Most Famous Bolin Bootleg", because it BY FAR blows away the other Deep Purple Bootlegs of the 1975-1976 world tour. Now that it's been released on CD, it blows away the afore-mentioned "Last Concert In Japan". Trivia note: Many boots, including this one, listed one of Tommy's songs as "The Grind", but it was really "Homeward Strut". Purple fans don't like Tommy's playing of "Burn" and "Smoke On The Water", but one has to empathize with a guy who didn't WANT to imitate another guitar player! Check out the 15 minute mind-melting solo about half-way through the concert.
a.k.a. "King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Deep Purple"
For a review of these live Deep Purple releases, click HERE
Tommy Bolin "Teaser"
For a review of TEASER (Rolling Stone, February, 1976), click HERE.
This album is often under-rated, but also often cited as "the" album that turned people on Tommy's music. "Post Toastee" and "Bustin Out For Rosie" are unbelievable, timeless works. The album is a showcase for Tommy's dichotomy of hard and soft textures. The Japanese lettering on the cover are, litterally, "Tomi" "Bo" and "Lin". This character "Tomi" means "Fortune", and "Bo" means "Grave", and is felt by some Japanese fans to have foreshadowed Tommy's death.
For a review of PRIVATE EYES (Rolling Stone, November 18, 1976), click HERE.
It seems like "The Ultimate" is starting to creep into the Bolin subculture as Tommy's semi-official nickname. Listen to this collection of (mostly) previously released material, and you can understand why. It has it all. Click on the album cover for more information!
Tommy Bolin "From the Archives, Vol I"
GO TO THE TOMMY BOLIN ARCHIVES TO SEE THERE MASSIVE LIST OF RECENT RELEASES!
For a review of
Tommy Bolin: From The Archives, Vol I
(RPM Records), click HERE
Tommy Bolin "Energy"
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