TOMMY BOLIN -- From the Archives, Vol. 1 (Rhino)

Almost twenty years after his death, Rhino has just released a new collection of unreleased material from guitar great, Tommy Bolin. The CD includes rare demos, acoustic & live performances from various stages in Bolin's brief career. Even with his awe-inspiring guitar work, Bolin's first band, Zephyr, wasn't exactly a commercial success. In 1972, he left the band to forge out on his own.

He started branching out into the jazz-rock realm, and began working with the likes of Jan Hammer & Billy Cobham. Probably the most well known of these collaborations was on Cobham's 1973 album, Spectrum. Soon after that, Tommy joined The James Gang (at the suggestion of original member, Joe Walsh), replacing guitarist Domenic Troiano (who in turn went on to join The Guess Who).

When Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple in 1975, the band picked Bolin as his replacement. The band only recorded one studio album together, Come Taste the Band, which contained seven of Bolin's songs. A live album, recorded in Japan before the group disbanded, featured a killer version of one of Tommy's solo tunes - "Wild Dogs". The song appears twice on the new CD - once in acoustic demo form, and another early version with Bolin's band in L.A.

Bolin's talent encompassed several musical genres, and it shows in the 13 tracks on the new CD. Highlights include the experimental, avant-garde jazz sound of "Crazed Fandango", the two versions of "Wild Dogs", and the demo of "Teaser". It's not hard to imagine smoke coming off the fretboard on "Red Skies". The acoustic demo, "Evening Rain" shows off his masterful acoustic ability as well.

From the Archives Vol. 1 takes an interesting look at one of rock's most versatile guitarists, Tommy Bolin.

© 1997 Steve Marshall