Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Teaser, by Tommy Bolin

It seems to be a noticeable trend in the world of contemporary music for some of the most talented performers to die at a very young age. Such was also the case for jazz fusion/rock guitarist Tommy Bolin; who played with notable groups such as Zephyr, The James Gang, Billy Cobham, Deep Purple, etc. In December of 1976 Bolin passed away due to a drug overdose via heroin, alcohol, cocaine, barbiturates, etc. while on a solo tour opening for Jeff Beck and Peter Frampton after the break-up of Deep Purple earlier that year. He was only 25 years old at the time.

While Bolin is has a rather high reputation amongst the rock community, his style was more jazzy rather than rock oriented; he just did it with more of a rock edge. His style, prowess, enthusiasm, and versatility were never better exemplified than in his 1975 solo album Teaser. In this album one minute he is playing a straight up rock tune, the next a flamenco song, the next after that a reggae groove, and so on. Anything Bolin liked, he put on his record. Throughout all of the songs on Teaser however, they are unmistakeably him.

The title track Teaser is one of the straight rock tunes that was mentioned earlier. The tune starts off with a fairly repetitive main riff that carries out throughout the verses, but despite this it is quite the ear worm. It stays in your head and kind of makes you dance even after the song has ended. The interlude is also quite funky, which isn't surprising given the era the song and album were created during. While the vocals aren't really the main focus of the album, the chorus hook also seems to latch onto you and makes you unable to help yourself in terms of singing along with it. The song is fun, memorable, and a great way to get people's feet moving.

Dreamer is the album's ballad. Surprisingly the primary instrumental focal point of the song is the piano (played by Dave Foster) rather than Bolin's guitar. Be that as it may, the guitar solo is immensely powerful on a profound emotional level. It absolutely makes the song and acts as a impeccable climax to what has been building up throughout the duration of it. The final verse is sung quite soulfully by Bolin's Deep Purple band mate Glenn Hughes, though he is uncredited due to contractual obligations. I feel that it adds a nice touch and is a great way for a friend to help a friend out.

Unfortunately Teaser isn't as well known as it could have been because around the time that it was being finished up and released, Bolin had just joined Deep Purple (after the departure of original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore who had left to form Rainbow) and was working on new music with them. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this album up. It's diverse and showcases a great deal of Bolin's talent without seeming like he was being pretentious in any way. While the original album is fantastic however, I would advise you get the Deluxe version because it features remixed outtakes of the songs that sound much cleaner, vibrant, and show off more of Bolin's chops as well as a couple of unreleased tracks.

Teaser, by Tommy Bolin receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. The Grind
2. Homeward Strut
3. Dreamer
4. Savannah Woman
5. Teaser
6. People, People
7. Marching Powder
8. Wild Dogs
9. Lotus

Buy the album on Amazon:

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