Tommy Bolin Teaser 1975 – Video Review

This is one of my desert island discs. However, it was not always this way. In 1975 when I heard that this guy was replacing my hero Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, I had no interest in hearing it at all.

Within a year this album took me on a journey of discovery which introduced me to Billy Cobham, Jazz fusion and a realisation that this was one of the most talented musicians of his era.

The video talks about the album, related albums and which versions to get on CD and vinyl.

Video Transcript Below

Hi and welcome to the Now Spinning group on Facebook. My name is Phil Aston, and this is a retro review of an album that is one of my desert island discs. This is my take on it, so I want to share not just what I think of the album, but how I came upon it and how it has meant so much to me over the years really.

The album is by the guitarist called Tommy Bolin. This is his solo album from 1975 called Teaser. Now my journey to this becoming one of my favorite albums for desert island disc is actually quite a long one because I was not a fan of this guy at all. The reason being he replaced my hero Ritchie Blackmore, for the album Come Taste The Band.

So when Blackmore was leaving I bought 24-Carat Purple and I just thought it was over. Who was this guy called Tommy Bolin? I’d never heard of him. He meant nothing to me at all!

Someone told me, “Oh he’s a jazz guitarist” or something, but I’d never heard of Billy Cobham, although I’ll come onto that in a few moments. It was actually after Deep Purple had disappeared and self-combusted that actually I started to think about, maybe I should investigate what it was Jazz Rock was all about.

I think it was a copy of Sounds (The UK Weekly Music Paper) from 1976, when they reviewed Deep Purple’s, Made in Europe, Sarabande by John Lord and Private Eyes by Tommy Bolin. This is the album I bought first by Tommy Bolin and it was different. It made me think, maybe I’ve got this quite wrong because the track Post Toastee was very good. Then I bought Come Taste The Band and thought wow, “You know, I might be a huge Blackmore fan, but let’s give this a go and see what Come Taste The Band was like.

I absolutely loved Come Taste the Band I was stunned. I thought, “What the hell have I been doing?” Then a friend of mine said, “You’ve got to hear Teaser. You’ve got to hear Teaser by Tommy Bolin.” it’s just amazing. So I managed to get a copy on Atlantic Records and gave it a spin.

I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing that this was a multi-talented guy. I had no idea what he could do. It was tracks like The Grind, which is a straight head rock track. Homeward Strut, which is probably one of the best jazz fusion tracks I’ve ever heard, with Jeff Porcaro on drums, Stanley Sheldon on base. Absolutely superb.

The interplay, the guitar, it’s just absolutely brilliant. Dreamer, which features Glenn Hughes, although he’s not actually credited, he’s on there. Savannah Woman, which is pure jazz, Teaser, another great rock track and some of the rhythms are just absolutely amazing. People People is a reggae track, Marching Powder, more jazz fusion. Wild Dogs a fantastic rock ballad and Lotus, an absolutely fantastic track.

I started playing this forever,  it is just brilliant. I just absolutely love it. So I’ll just show you my copies of the album.  This is the original Atlantic copy. So I’m just going to change the camera so you can see this more closely. So this is the original Atlantic label release from 1975.

As the legend that is Tommy Bolin started to grow, people started to wonder about what else was in the can. One of the things that I think I started to hear about was a track called Crazed Fandango. It was very hard in the late seventies to get hold of things from tapes or even share music, but people started talking about the track called Crazed Fandango.

Also, at around this time, I started to think, “What else has this guy done?” I reached back and actually bought this, Spectrum by Billy Cobham and this is the album that introduced me to jazz fusion, jazz rock because of Tommy Bolin. If you haven’t heard Quadrant Four on this or Stratus, (which Jeff Beck does quite a bit), you should.

It also then took me into samplers by this one from the Nemperor Recrods, which is the label that released Teaser in America and introduced me to Jerry Goodman, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Stanley Clarke Return To Forever, Jan Hammer, absolutely brilliant stuff. The other artist I then found was Alphonse Mouzon, Mind Transplant from ‘1975. If you take in the James Gang albums Bang and Miami and Moxy tracks, Tommy Bolin was on fire.

Unfortunately, he was also heavily addicted to drugs. So by the end of ‘1976, he had left this planet. I managed to get hold of the copy of Nemperor records. This is the American label, I was searching for a track called Crazed Fandango at the time thinking this was an outtake from the Teaser sessions, thinking it might be on here and it wasn’t.

So many years later, as my search continued, this CD came out which was Tommy Bolin from the Archives on the RPM label run by Simon Robinson from the Deep Purple fan club. Crazed Fandango was on here. So I thought, “Oh this is it. This is where the outtakes from Teaser might be. However, they would not appear for a while. I always wanted to get Teaser on CD and eventually it appeared. This is the original CD release of Teaser on Nemperor Records.

Now, whoever did the mastering on this wasn’t very good. Actually on the track Teaser, at the very end it actually distorts which I never noticed for a while. But actually when you listen to it, you can’t unhear it. So it was never the ideal.

Then I started hearing that there were other unreleased tracks. So the next thing that came out was this Tommy Bolin The Ultimate Box Set. Look at the size of this box, What do you think is in here? Amazingly, there are just two CD’s in this box, just two, because in the ‘1990s, boxes were big even if they didn’t contain that much stuff. This contains just one outtake from Teaser called Brother, Brother.

But it was the only track on that two-disc set that hinted again of all these missing tracks. This was a great box set by the way. It was put together with absolute love. So if you’re a Tommy Bolin fan, this is well-worth getting.

Eventually we had Tommy Bolin Teaser Deluxe, which actually featured all the tracks (not in the right order) and they have all been remixed. You will notice Wild dogs, which was really about four minutes long, is actually nearly 14 minutes long on this! Crazed Fandango’s on there. It’s good, but I just wanted a remastered copy of the original album.

The next thing that appeared was Tommy Bolin Whips and Roses. I don’t know who does the artwork for Tommy Bolin releases but I wish they wouldn’t use these Photoshop filters. This has got some great tracks. Again, they’re outtakes but the mix on these is superb. So if you are a Tommy Bolin fan, this is good stuff.

However, this is the one to get. This is the Definitive Teaser Collector’s Edition, five CDs on Samson Records, With a foldout cover this actually does have a little booklet in it, again, with lots of Photoshop. Hardly any information at all, but it does give you credits on the back.

So you can see what the tracks are and it features the whole album remastered plus some outtakes and also alternative outtakes. The mix on this is absolutely stunning. It also comes with Great Gypsy Soul, which is where lots of famous guitarists such as Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Brad Whitford, Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa play along with the master tracks from Teaser.

I think its  absolutely incredible, Marching Powder has been renamed Margin Bang, which is basically several l10 minutes instrumentals of the Marching Powder track from the Teaser album. Tommy Bolin must obviously just loved jamming and this is fantastic.

So is that the end of the story? Not quite, because there’s this. This is a Tommy Bolin Teaser 40th Anniversary Vinyl Edition Boxset. This also came with a double album CD called The Best of Live, which has lots of rare tracks on it, plus Post Toastee Live From Albany, which is cool.

Inside this box is another booklet where the guy, who obviously owns a copy of Photoshop, has again got absolutely carried away! On the vinyl albums basically there’s two tracks aside and they’re really long versions with Flying Fingers being an outtake.

The vinyl is all 180 gram at least.  If you’re a fan of Teaser (which obviously you can tell that I am), then Definitive Teaser Collector’s Edition is the version to get. This is the one that has the outtakes, the proper remastered Teaser album, plus that CD with various guitarists who were kind of having a go at playing with Tommy as if he was still here. Obviously if you can get a copy on Atlantic Records, brilliant. Or even get this one, which is the recent vinyl edition.

Thank you for watching.

Phil

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