Sat April 14, 2012
Marc On The Blues

The Blues Tonight: Tommy Bolin & Friends

This week on The Nine O’clock Blues we’ll take a listen to several leading guitarists as they pay tribute to Sioux City, Iowa’s number one gift to the guitar, Tommy Bolin.

The Greg Hampton and Warren Haynes produced album “Great Gypsy Soul” isn’t like most tribute albums in that it takes alternate versions and original outtakes of Tommy Bolin’s work and adds guitars and sometimes vocals by current artists, mostly with a connection to the late Bolin. In some cases these tracks complete unfinished works while others were completed pieces, but all include Bolin’s own guitar and vocal work.

When I first heard the idea I was skeptical.

Tommy Bolin is, in my estimation, something of an underrated genius.  In his too short life Bolin proved himself a worthy candidate for several Halls of Fame from his stints with the James Gang and Deep Purple to working as a sideman for such luminaries as Billy Cobham. Also, his two solo albums “Teaser” and “Private Eyes” are classics.

Hence I wondered how even some of today’s best like John Scofield, Derek Trucks and Steve Morse could improve on his work. But as I considered the idea I thought about my feeling that one reason for Bolin’s lack of credit is that often his recordings were hampered by less than adequate production, so why not see if current producers and modern equipment could give him a better setting?

As I listen to the results I do feel they have given sometimes inspired updates to a variety of pieces while still letting the Bolin touch come through.

Join me this Saturday night for The Nine O’clock Blues and we’ll listen to several of the tracks that I feel were the most successful on “Great Gypsy Soul” by Tommy Bolin and Friends.


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