Tommy Bolin – Captured Raw Jams Vol. 1 (2014)

His star shined brightly, but far too briefly.

Born August 1, 1951 in Sioux City, Iowa, Tommy Bolin went on to become one of the most versatile and admired guitarists of his era. Patch Of Blue, Zephyr, Energy, James Gang, and Deep Purple were among the bands the revered fretman played in. He also boasted a notable solo career and appeared on albums by Billy Cobham and Moxy as well. How tragic it was at the height of his fame, December 1976 to be exact, Tommy overdosed on chemical substances and left this world.

Compiled by Tommy’s best friend and producer and engineer Phillip Polimeni, Captured Raw Jams Vol. 1 (Gear Fab Records) features material laid down between the years 1973 and 1976 at Glen Holly Studios in London, England. As the handle of the disc states, these tracks were recorded live and in the nude. Free and loose, Captured Raw Jams Vol. 1 surveys Tommy, accompanied by an assortment of equally enthused musicians, cranking out instrumentals assembled of exciting dips and loops that travel to unexpected places.

The collection launches off to the appropriately titled “Powerhouse,” which pumps and pulsates with driving rhythms and patterns, and from there on, Captured Raw Jams Vol. 1 proceeds to pierce the premises with the intoxicating tones of Tommy’s intense and invigorating riffing.

Although the cuts are anchored by a hard rock force, jazz arrangements and funky beats often seep into the sessions, showcasing Tommy’s ability to fuse such genres into a single piece while still managing to stamp his own identity across the board.

Further highlights heard include “Mixed Madness,” “Collective Energy,” “Off The Hook,” and “Jazzy Girl,” but every offering actually smacks of godly gestures. The melodies are uniformly strong and each number carries grooves that keep the performances riding tight on the rails.

Teeming with cool improvisational moves that rock with feeling, Captured Raw Jams Vol. 1 is an essential purchase for not only Tommy Bolin fans, but all those appreciative of cool guitar sounds. Tommy’s forward thinking and unique contributions to music should never be underestimated, and here’s a record that lends an impressive peek at his prowess. Turn the volume up and enjoy!

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Dolosus

    I knew about Bolin’s work with mainstream rockers of the 70’s, but I recently gained a whole new appreciation for his abilities on Cobham’s Spectrum album. A tragic end to such God-given gift.