TOMMY BOLIN: AFTER HOURS - THE GLEN HOLLY JAMS VOLUME I
Review by Chris Daykin
This double CD, clocking in at 146 minutes, is the largest of the three new Archives releases. It also seems to be the hardest to describe, though the excellent liner notes by Eddie Williamson do an admirable job, this is quite possibly the best release of Tommy’s music yet! My best effort in analyzing these CDs will necessarily include references to other artists with an established sound or style, to better describe the sound or feel of a given jam. However, these CDs contain a lot of music and it is virtually impossible to describe them entirely, so mine is a brief overview. Also, this description is entirely my opinion; others may hear things differently, view it from a different perspective, and/or have more musical knowledge.
The notes indicate the recordings were made sometime in the mid ’70s, I would guess 72-73, maybe around the time of Spectrum and Mind Transplant. The notes also indicate the other players are unknown but “the band most likely consisted of Stanley Sheldon and Bobby Berge” (note: you can hear Tommy saying “Bobby’ on disk 2). It’s also my guess that some of the jams may also include some of Tommy’s friends and associates of the time such as, Jan Hammer and Alphonse Mouzon. These jams are amazing, if you like Tommy’s guitar playing... do yourself a favor and buy this one!
Disk 1, Jam 1 (14:09): I like to think that, on the beginning of this jam, Tommy is talking to anyone who ever said he was over-rated. The track begins with some funky guitar, and Tommy calling out key changes, and working thru different ideas. Then, in the middle, the band restarts with a more Free or James Gang type jam, (which also may be part of some song that I don’t recognize.) All in all, some excellent guitar work and a great, long opening jam.
Disk 1, Jam 2 (16:37): This one starts out with some guitar lines reminiscent of Homeward Strut, but with a funkier feel, and to me, it sounds like Jan Hammer could be playing keys on this one. Some sections remind me of Tommy’s work on the Spectrum album. Tommy also plays some great funky guitar that might even surprise Chili Pepper’s guitarist Jon Frusciante. One of the coolest things about these CDs is, that, if you play guitar, the open jam format and the awesome rhythm section, make it fun to try to jump in and try to pick up some true Tommy Bolin style.
Disk 1, Jam 3 (8:37): This jam starts out with a Santana like feel, the lead guitar tone is a bit more distorted, giving the early solo a more Ebbet’s Field ’74 style sound. Then an unknown vocalist (someone suggested it may be Mouzon) contributes some improvised(?) lyrics, some nice drum fills, lots of great guitar work that moves into the fusion realm before this jam fades.
Disk 1, Jam 4 (4:54): The beginning of this one reminds me of Joe Walsh era James Gang, then the groove gets really funky and stays that way till the end with Tommy playing some funky rhythm and his unique lead guitar style.
Disk 1, Jam 5 (6:33): This jam picks up where the last jam left off, but with a more straight ahead rock rhythm, again there’s lots of fast fills, and lots of classic Bolin tone. Some great improvisational lead playing. This one goes into a kind of a country rock sort of feel at the end.
Disk 1, Jam 6 (6:30): This jam sounds like a very different and slower version of “Cucumber Jam” (as previously found on the Snapshot CD and described in the liner notes), this version also includes Tommy playing a familiar Beatles excerpt from “A Day In The Life” (which is also part of “Jammin” from the Bolin/Mouzon Fusion Jam CD, which I have on the Archives’ Come Taste The Man.)
Disk 1, Jam 7 (3:57): Leads of with some great funky rhythm playing and some more vocal fills, some ass kickin’ drums and guitar transition the jam, Allman Brothers style, into a jazzy “Cucumber Slumber” (as previously discussed in the Snapshot CD liner notes) with Tommy, as always, improvising his ass off.
Disk 1, Jam 8 (9:01): More “Cucumber Slumber,” check out Tommy’s playing as he copies the bass line, the kid was hot! Listening to this jam, I’m also reminded of the angular guitar lines of Steely Dan’s Aja.
Disk 1, Jam 9 (2:28): This jam sounds, to me, like it could have been on an album by the Outlaws or Marshall Tucker Band. Some great country rock guitar work by Tommy, and as with every track on these CDs, the rhythm section fuckin’ rocks.
The more I listen to this CD, the more I feel the need to thank everyone that’s ever been involved with the creation of The Archives (especially Mike Drumm & Johnny Bolin), and who have worked hard to give us (Tommy’s fans) so much great music over the years. For at least fifteen years following Tommy’s death, the only music I knew about was Come Taste the Band, Teaser and Private Eyes.
Disk 2, Jam 1 (3:59) This jam comes in real heavy for about 30 seconds, then Tommy say’s “do that one... Watermelon Man,” then at about 1:10 it sounds to me like the bass goes “off exploring.” Then Tommy does some experimenting, as well. The drums keep things together, and everyone seems to come back together near the end. “Bobby?”
Disk 2, Jam 2 (2:37) Can you say “studio version of San Francisco River”? Well almost, it’s played slightly faster and seems to be short the second solo. However, just compare the guitar tone and playing here with either of the other versions (Live at Ebbets Field 1974 or From The Archives Vol.1) to get an idea of how great these Glen Holly recordings really are! And… how the hell did he play those triplets that fast?
Disk 2, Jam 3 (4:14) Sounds like a little reverb added to the rhythm section and Tommy doing what he does best, a question about the proper key, then some funky guitar and some memorable soloing with some brief, but interesting, keyboards in the middle. Also, Bobby’s drumming is right on! This jam seems to transition directly into the next one.
Disk 2, Jam 4 (1:23) Some fast fusion style lead work, this band was smoking. Again, seems to transition directly into the next jam.
Disk 2, Jam 5 (2:53) Starts off with a jazz blues kind of feel, then goes more toward jazz, with some cool guitar/drum interplay.
Disk 2, Jam 6 (:43) Nice job by Bob Ferbrache on these disks. I’m no jazz buff, but sounds like a tune I vaguely remember… “ain’t got that swing”?
Disk 2, Talking 1 (:13) “Let’s do that one song”... “Practice.”
Disk 2, Jam 7 (5:26) Another great version of “Cucumber Slumber,” as always, Tommy never plays it the same way twice.
Disk 2, Jam 8 (1:28) - Rolling drums to jazz guitar, Man, I swear I’ve heard these tunes some other place and time?
Disk 2, Talking 2 (:26) “set your groove…” one of my favorite moments on this disk, Tommy cracks me up! One minute, joking...
Disk 2, Jam 9 (3:51) The next minute, he’s kicking in to this great long rock jam. Some awesome, southern rock style soloing and just generally ass kickin’ playing through out. This CD just has to be heard, to be fully appreciated.
Disk 2, Jam 10 (1:53) These jams just flow from one to the next, with little more than a subtle transition. In fact, to me, Jams 9, 10 & 11 could easily be considered one jam.
Disk 2, Jam 11 (2:30) - Another familiar tune, I just can’t put my finger on.
Disk 2, Jam 12 (9:48) Somewhat like “Stratus,” a long jam, with maybe some “Ain’t No Sunshine” in there somewhere. Some great keyboards in this one, maybe Bobby Berge knows who’s playing?
Disk 2, Jam 13 (19:46) This jam sounds like it’s the one Bobby said he thought Alphonse Mouzon was playing on, again notice the excerpt from “A Day In the Life”, just another great super long jam.
Disk 2, Jam 14 (12:14) This disk ends much like the first, with a great Marshal Tucker / Allman Brothers southern rock type of feel, and yet another long jam.
As I said before this description is simply my impression and/or opinion of the music, others may hear things differently. Hopefully, reading this will influence others to listen to these great new Archives releases of Tommy’s amazing music.
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