Tommy Bolin: Sister Andrea
Tommy Bolin (guitar)
From the Archives, Vol. 1 (Rhino R2 72194)
Tommy Bolin (guitar),
Jeremy Steig (flute), Jan Hammer (keyboards), Gene Perla (bass), Billy Cobham (drums).
Composed by Jan Hammer.
Recorded: New York, 1971
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
Guitarist Tommy Bolin was only 25 when he died in 1976 as a result of his addiction to heroin and who knows what else. Best known among fusion fans as the man who played the fiery guitar leads on Billy Cobham's historic fusion masterpiece Spectrum, Bolin was never able to fulfill his great promise. In death, however, his legend continues to grow.
Bolin was part of a studio session being fronted by the jazz-rock flutist Jeremy Steig and including Billy Cobham. It was the first time Bolin had met Cobham and led directly to his later inclusion on Spectrum. This version of Jan Hammer's composition "Sister Andrea," later covered by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, was a demo that didn't see the light of day until Tommy Bolin: From the Archives was released in 1996. Steig's lead flute and Bolin's spacey sound effects give the tune quite a different character than Mahavishnu's interpretation. Some of those effects, in truncated form, would find their way onto Spectrum two years later. Though he doesn't really let it rip, you can hear hints of Bolin's future greatness here. He possessed the perfect guitar rough-but-not-sloppy sound for all future fusion superstars. Perla lays down a simple bassline in conjunction with Hammer's slightly funky chords. Though this performance is enjoyable, it is probably of more historical interest. And to be fair, it is a demo. Jan Hammer does say in the liner notes that he prefers this performance over Mahavishnu's. That statement is flummoxing. But he knows his music better than I do.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky