Don "Sugar Cane" HARRIS – Fiddler On The Rock 1971

Don “Sugar Cane” HARRIS – Fiddler On The Rock  1971
CRM 878, 0654 807


Born in 1938, was Don ‘Sugar Cane’ Harris certainly one of the rare genius on the electric violin. Hardly surprising, he had enjoyed as a child instruction in the classical violin. Since the late sixties he was a guest musician a popular size and can be heard on numerous boards, including by Little Richard, John Lee Hooker, Frank Zappa, and – how could it be otherwise – the European blues pioneer John Mayall, with whom he toured frequently.
Shortly after Mayall 1970 his’ broke Turning Point’ troupe, he was working on a new incarnation of his’ Bluesbreakers’ and was Harvey Mandel and Larry Taylor of Canned Heat get into it, which according to Al Wilson’s death from the ‘adopted heat canned’ had. The new formation was also Paul Lagos, the Mayall with ‘Sugar Cane’ met. Then there was the ‘devil’s fiddler “himself – John Mayall was a big fan of his, and thus the British blues pioneer was on the road for the first time with all-American colleagues.
During a tour in Holland called ‘Sugar Cane’ with unforgettable Joachim Ernst Berendt – the German pope of jazz – in order to proclaim him, with almond, Taylor and Lagos, he had found his perfect formation and he would immediately import a record.
In addition to his many journalistic activities in the then South West radio, Berendt also operate the MPS label (including the first published Volker Kriegel project ‘Missing Link’). The company operated out of the Black Forest and the world has brought many classic Blues’n’Jazz’n’Rock.
In February 1971, it was time, in the studio Villingen, the magical sounds of the quartet moved to tape. Innovation, inspiration, wit, stunning security of instrumental mastery and beyond, the perfect ‘Interplay’, was the outstanding result of the sessions. The booklet is Berendt’s statement: “Almost all the pieces of the plate are ‘First Takes’, the band was so well recorded.”
And that’s what you hear with every stroke.
The famous Lennon / McCartney epic “Eleanor Rigby” is indeed in a number of cover versions, but these may well be among the best, because it excels with its expressive power and smooth even the original. Dark, sometimes slip into the depressed, to again bring out the postitive. Really great to play here just Taylor and Lagos, offering a rhythmic carpet on which we can not sit still.
A similarly compelling intensity also convey “I’m Gonna Miss You” and “So Alone” – one suffers with normal. The other tracks range from blues and R & B with jazz skillfully interspersed shortcuts. And the typical jazz without any wind instrument.
Most particularly surprising is the idea of Harvey ‘The Snake’ Mandel: He has known and mastered all the tricks on the electric guitar up to the ‘two-hand tapping’ – that is walking on the strings of Fretboards with the fingers of both hands – and will his art here is clearly in the service of songs, beautifully acted more in the background. The solo instrument in this work happens to be ‘Sugar Cane’ electrically amplified violin.
‘Sugar Cane’ had previously recorded four solo albums and set up for ‘Fiddler On The Rock “with almond a formation called Pure Food And Drug Act. With this band 1972 live album was recorded here by the present five of the eight songs as bonus tracks. Overall, a trace in the rock hiking, these songs a welcome added value, where “My Soul’s On Fire” works without violin. This is the situation of Harvey Mandel – no wonder that he wanted to commit the Stones to replace Mick Taylor!
Under the relatively limited number of rounders in the electrically amplified violin – here are Jean Luc Ponty, ‘Papa John Creach’ (Jefferson Airplane) and Jerry Goodman (The Flock and Mahavishnu Orchestra) as examples – was ‘Sugar Cane’, at least on a par but unlike the other more of the Hendrix of the instrument. Only his decades of drug addiction actually denied him the rightful superstar status. He died in December 1999 in Los Angeles.
This album is not just for me one of the very, very great works that enrich our lives and to support my thesis I would like to quote John Mayall, who brought it to the point.
By Manni Hüther.
This is a jam album, but no meandering 1970s affair.
This is a 70s show featuring Harris with the great and completely under recognized guitarist, Harvey Mandel.
Based on the blues, the numbers are long, but both soloists-Mandel turned down an invitation to replace Mick Taylor in the Stones and Harris played on “Gumbo Variations” on Zappa’s Hot Rats-have such concentration, their long solos take on a classical grandness and architecture. Listen to the rework of the Beatles “Eleanore Rigby,” which turns into a Hot Ratsish jam.
The rare 1971 “Fiddler On The Rock” album by the late, great blues-rock violinist Don ‘Sugar Cane’ Harris – featuring guitarist Harvey Mandel, bassist Larry Taylor and drummer Paul Lagos – and recorded in Germany when all were on tour as members of the John Mayall Band.
Pasadena-born “Sugarcane” Harris was half of the R&B duo Don & Dewey in the mid-50s, writing a number of rock & roll hits, including ‘Farmer John’. Apart from his time with Mayall, he is best known for his work with Frank Zappa on the albums “Hot Rats”, “Burnt Weeny Sandwich”, and “Weasels Ripped My Flesh”.
Harris claimed to have assembled his perfect group for the ‘Fiddler’ album and the label’s producer Joachim E. Berendt later commented that “almost all the pieces that Sugar Cane plays on our record are first takes – the four musicians were so well attuned to each other.” The quartet recorded five Harris originals.
This release also includes five bonus tracks from the band “The Pure Food & Drug Act”, a quintet formed by Harris and Mandel, which also included Paul Lagos. These tracks are from the short-lived group’s 1972 debut and only album.
Don “Sugar Cane” Harris- Violin, Vocals
Paul Lagos- Drums
Harvey Mandel- Guitar
Larry Taylor- Bass
A1. Eleanor Rigby (9:36)
A2. I’m Gonna Miss You (4:50)
A3. The Buzzard’s Cousin (6:05)
B1. The Pig’s Eye (6:31)
B2. So Alone (7:06)
B3. No Inspiration (4:00)

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