Harvey Mandel (‘Snake’) was plucked straight from the Fillmore dressing room to replace Henry Vestine for the Canned Heat performance, later to perform at the famed 'Woodstock festival'. Harvey stayed with the band for one year and featured on three albums, the most prolific being the 1970 Future Blues that included guest pianist Dr. John who gilded “London Blues” with a haunting restraint. Mandel history goes back to him playing on Charlie Musselwhite’s 1966 debut Stand Back. Harvey’s trade mark riff was a semi-distorted tone with feedback and jarred phrases balanced with a melody motif, a style totally unique, proven by his early jams with Elvin Bishop and Jerry Garcia at the ‘Matrix’. Harvey also featured on John Mayall’sUSA Union and Back To The Roots alongside Mick Taylor and Clapton. Some of his finest work could be found with violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris of Don & Dewey fame (Fiddler on the Rock) and the live album Choice Cuts where he was one part of Pure Food and Drug Act.
Larry Taylor assisted Harvey during this phenomenal recording session. Harvey’s early albums, released by ‘Mercury’ such as Cristo Redentor with Graham Bond on Hammond and the sterling Righteous reflected the spiritual transformation of the hippie. Cristo Redentor conceived a psychedelic version of Ramsey Lewis’ “Wade In The Water” that really put Harvey on the map, although it was really Harvey’s pioneering Shangrenade where he applied a 2-handed fretboard tapping style, one of the first rock guitarists to utilize this technique, years before Eddie Van Halen and Stanley Jordan. The fusion genius of this underrated guitarist is clearly felt on Snake, Baby Batter, Games Guitars Play (1970) and the bootleg Get off in Chicago (1973).Mandel also teamed up with Russell DaShiell (Crowfoot) to release Games Guitars Play illuminated on “Dry Your Eyes” and “Leavin Trunk”. Mandel’s puritan blues feel reached near perfection with Electric Flag keyboardist Barry Goldberg, namely Blowing My Mind where he shivers through “Getting It Down” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” or Goldberg’s Barry Goldberg & Friends where he slides through “It Hurt ‘s Me Too” but reaches wah wah splendour on Danny Whitten’s “Hole In My Pocket”, Steve Miller’s “Sitting In Circles” and the Beatles’ “Fool On The Hill”.
Harvey renowned for guitar sustain and controlled feedback was definitively America’s answer to England‘s Jeff Beck. Harvey also had a short span with The Ventures and played on the ‘Music From Free Creek project’ . Later he auditioned for the replacement of Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones playing on Black & Blue -“Hot Stuff” and “Memory Hotel”. In the latter years Harvey featured in the surfing soundtrack Chalk plus contributing music. Harvey’s “Shot Gun Man” was featured in Nash Bridges’ CBS TV Show starring Don Johnson.