Saturday, May 4, 2024

Don 'Sugar Cane' Harris - Fiddler On The Rock (1971-72 us, amazing avant garde jazz blues rock, feat. Harvey Mandel, 2007 digipak remaster with extra tracks)

Don “Sugarcane” Harris, from Pasadena, California was born in 1938, and by his teens was playing R&B guitar and violin with Dewey Terry under the name Don and Dewey. In the 60’s they separated, and Harris began to concentrate on electric blues violin. He made many appearances as a sideman, with artists such as John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Johnny Otis, John Lee Hooker and Little Richard. He is probably best remembered, though, for his work with Frank Zappa in the 1970’s, notably the grinding, take-no-prisoners rocking blues “Weasels ripped my Flesh”. Here he makes the most of his raw, shredding sound, frequent “harmonica” trills, tremelo and double stops. His playing can be fast and fluent, but is most effective on slow numbers, where his distinctive thin tone and shaky vibrato come across as vulnerable and sensitive. After a lengthy battle with pulmonary disease, on December 1, 1999 he was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment at the age of 61. 

David Lindley (It's A Beautiful Day) referred to Sugar Cane as a “force of nature”, while Dave Arbus, of East of Eden, said “there are quite a few violinist on the scene, but Sugar Cane is the only true rock fiddler. His feeling, his phrasing, his timing, unreachable!”

Guitarist Randy Resnick, who played with Don in the band Pure Food and Drug Act (PFDA)in the 1970’s had this to say; “I never got chills in any other band like the ones I got when Don took off alone in a cadenza or when he and Paul did violin-drums duets. It was tribal, it was primitive and it was real music with all the faults that make us human. Don had a swing to his playing, a groove, a soulfulness that you don't hear anywhere else. No one plays with such gut-wrenching rawness, because musicians are trained to play "better". 

"Fiddler On The Rock", released 1971 is a tripped-out batch of funk rock tracks – one of the biggest crossover successes of the MPS lable! Don Harris sings and plays violin – and he gets some very heavy backing by a trio that includes Harvey Mandel on guitar, wailing away with those slow choppy riffs that made him the west coast equivalent of Dennis Coffey's east of the Mississippi fuzzed-out guitar groove. Features the slow funk classic "The Pig's Eye", plus "No Inspiration", "The Buzzard's Cousin", and "Eleanor Rigby". 
1. Eleanor Rigby (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 9:35
2. I'm Gonna Miss You - 4:48
3. The Buzzard's Cousin - 6:04
4. The Pig's Eye - 6:27
5. So Alone - 7:05
6. No Inspiration - 4:00
7. 'Till The Day I Die - 7:08
8. My Soul's On Fire (Victor Conte, Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Paul Lagos, Harvey Mandel, Randy Resnick) - 4:12
9. Little Soul Food (Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Shuggie Otis) - 4:03
10.What Comes Around Goes Around (Victor Conte, Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Paul Lagos, Harvey Mandel, Randy Resnick) - 4:21
11.Eleanor Rigby (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 11:51
All compositions by Don "Sugarcane" Harris except where stated
Tracks 1-6 from the original album "Fiddler On The Rock" 1971
Tracks 7-11 from "Pure Food And Drug Act - Choice Cuts" 1972, recorded live at " The Fresh Air Tavern ", Seattle, Washington

*Don "Sugarcane" Harris - Violin, Vocals
*Harvey Mandel - Guitar
*Larry Taylor - Bass (Tracks 1-6)
*Paul Lagos - Drums
*Randy Resnick - Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 7-11)
*Victor Conte - Bass (Tracks 7-11)

Related Acts
1968  Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor (2003 remaster and expanded)
1969-70  Harvey Mandel - Righteous / Games Guitars Play (2005 remaster)
1971  Harvey Mandel - Baby Batter (2016 remaster)
1972  Harvey Mandel - The Snake (2016 remaster)
1965-66  The Barry Goldberg Blues Band - Blowing My Mind ..Plus (2003 remaster and expanded)
1967  Charley Musselwhite - Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band
1968  The Barry Goldberg Reunion - There's No Hole In My Soul
1969  Barry Goldberg - Two Jews Blues (vinyl edition) 
1967-73  Canned Heat - The Very Best Of (2005 issue with previous unreleased track)
1970  Canned Heat - Future Blues (remastered and expanded) 
1971-72  Canned Heat - Historical Figures And Ancient Heads (extra track remaster issue)
1974  Love - Reel To Reel (2015 deluxe edition)