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Tommy Bolin

Whirlwind

Review by Gary Hill

Tommy Bolin is best known for his work with Deep Purple, James Gang and the Billy Cobham band. This set is composed of a lot of previous unreleased rarities. These are more often than not less like real “songs” you would expect released and more like studio jams. They are almost always compelling and entertaining. Sure, there’s an unfinished edge here a lot of the time, but this stuff is great. This is worth having just for the historic value. It’s a good disc to enjoy, too, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Cucumber Jam

Percussion leads things out and at first it feels rather like jazz. As the guitar enters we get more pure rock music. There is a bit of a fusion element as this thing continues. It’s got some funk in the mix. That said, there are places where the guitar soloing (and the sound in general) calls to mind Jimi Hendrix quite a bit.

Heartlight
A killer keyboard groove leads things out here. They turn that out into a smoking hot jam that again calls to mind Hendrix quite a bit. When the vocals come in that comparison seems even more appropriate. This is overall a killer bluesy hard rock tune. There’s a fairly short drum solo that serves as the outro here.
Hoka-Hay!
The rocking section that opens this is quite psychedelic. It drops way down to a mellower, more stripped down bit of psychedelic music from there. As the guitar rises up and the rhythm section really starts to shine it feels rather like fusion. It gets dropped down later to a fairly sparse arrangement for some psychedelic space rock. When the organ solos later there’s almost an early Pink Floyd vibe here. As this continues to evolve that Floyd comparison is even more valid. As it powers up, it gets into something more like early 1970s progressive rock. That basic musical concept takes it to its conclusion with more power added to it.
Don't Worry 'Bout Cash (Acoustic Version)
Now, this is completely different. It’s a bouncy folk number and the vocals make me think of Arlo Guthrie. In fact, I wouldn’t have too much trouble imagining Guthrie doing this tune. Not that I’d believe this is him, but his version would probably sound pretty close.
San Francisco River
This rocking instrumental feels a lot like Jimi Hendrix. It’s quite a cool tune. 
Rock-a-Bye
Here we get a cool rocker with a real retro sound. It’s got quite a classic rock sound. It reminds me of Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love” in a lot of ways.
Dungeon
This instrumental has a real jazz and rock and roll combined vibe. It’s a pretty intense and involved number, really.
Alexis
Here’s an acoustic guitar led jam that’s got a great bluesy, jazzy vibe. It’s a mellower tune with a cool groove. There are some more powered up moments and they tend to feel a bit like The Allman Brothers. There are some jazzy and some 1960s pop rock vibes to this number. When it gets an infusion of power for the final movement of the piece it gets some definite space rock.
Gotta Dance (Take 2)
This jam has a definite Deep Purple vibe to it early. The keyboard sounds on this are great. As it continues the vibe is sort of more of a Booker T. and the MGs one.
Spanish Lover (Instrumental Version)
A mellower tune (at least early), there’s a real progressive rock vibe to this cut. It works out to a more rocking jam that’s got a bluesy, Allman Brothers element.
Sooner or Later
This is more of a straightahead rocker. It gets really intense later. Some of the guitar soloing on this is classic and this is bluesy hard rock at its best. There is a little bit of a space rock vibe at a couple points along this road, though.
Disc 2
Red Skies (Instrumental Version)
This is a mid-tempo groove with a classic bluesy hard rock sound. It includes harder edged sections and mellower, more melodic drop backs. It also includes some particularly tasty guitar playing. There are several shifts and changes here.
Way It's Always Been
Here’s another acoustic folk tune that makes me think of Arlo Guthrie.
Sleepwalker (Instrumental Version)
This hard rocker is quite a cool one. It’s got some space rock in the mix along with almost some Ventures style surf music.
Leave Other People Alone
An acoustic rocking tune, this is a good one.
Marching Bag (26 Minute Original Version)
This jam has moments that run along with a Jimi Hendrix style. Other parts land in a space rock style. There are also sections that are quite funky and almost fusion.
 
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