Carlos Santana named American raw-dawg blues-rock guitarist ERIC GALES as one of his favorite guitarists, while on Twitter Joe Bonamassa called Eric: “One of the best if not the best guitarists in the world today…”
Gales has recorded more than ten albums for major record labels and has done a valuable session and tribute work over almost forty years in the business, and he’s contributed to the voices of Memphis rap groups, including Prophet Posse and Three 6 Mafia under the name Lil E.
A prodigious guitarist since the age four — his older siblings, Eugene and Emmanuel (Little Jimmy King) taught Eric licks when he was young — in the style of Jimi Hendrix.
In 1985 Eric began playing blues contests with brother Eugene supporting him on bass. And in 2004, Gales contributed a cover of “May This Be Love” to the album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix. In 2008, In 2008, he and other guitarists participated in the tribute to Jimi Hendrix — Experience Hendrix.
Gales will release a new album titled The Bookends on February 8th via Provogue/Mascot Label Group. His previous album ‘Middle of the Road’, was released in February 2017 and is considered, by fans, as something of a rebirth. Since releasing that disc he has toured almost non-stop; playing shows with Gary Clark Jr, Beth Hart, Gov’t Mule.
“The Bookends” was written over a nine month period, and recorded at Recorded at Studio Delux, Van Nuys (CA), The Dog House, Woodland Hills (CA), Blakeslee Recording, North Hollywood (CA) and the day before he was due to fly to LA for pre-production the original producer David Bianco tragically died.
It was Bianco’s management who suggested Matt Wallace. “I heard his work and the kind of people he has produced such as Maroon 5, Faith No More and all these sorta cats. When we met up together it was just perfect. I just trusted the guy and it ended up being great, I love Matt Wallace,” says Gales.
The challenge for making ‘The Bookends’ was for Gales to challenge himself. “As a guitar player it’s been established that I can play a little bit, just a little bit…” But for this album he not only wanted to push himself as a musician, but also as a vocalist, to build-up his vocal discography.
“What spearheaded that was the artists that I have on the record,” he says. For example, the three-time Grammy nominated and Emmy Award winning Californian Gospel-rapping vocalist B. Slade appears on two songs, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ and bonus track ‘Pedal to the Metal.’
“Something’s Gotta Give” [shared below] is a groovy, smoke-filled number with acoustic sounds and montuno rhythms and silky voice blankets. The song is graceful and memorable and avoids cliché. The lemon pepper electric break is distinctive and satisfying.
“Whatcha Gon’ Do” presents the kind of itch to scratch that only a seasoned blues expert could bring… this has oozy, mud-butt bass, chocolate-orange vocals and a quirkilicious riff that sounds extraordinarily cool.
“Southpaw Serenade” (feat. Doyle Bramhall II) is an unhurried marauder of a song. The guitar notes are fluorescent flashes of intense brilliance (Doyle plays plays left-handed with the instrument strung “upside down” while Gales, though not naturally left-handed, strings his instrument in a similar way.) This song is comforting and consoling.
There’s sparkling Santana-style smoothness on the hugely enjoyable instrumental number “Resolution” but it’s likely that most blues fans will designate “With A Little Help From My Friends” as the high water mark of this (and probably ) all other blues-rock albums this year.
With the hyper-sensitive, contralto voice of Beth Hart, this track is a real stunner. Of course, we’ve all been singing along with the Woodstock-era anthem since before the “Aquarian Age” and it’s fair to say that most versions are true to the original spirit of shared love and warm collaboration. But, even so, it’s rare to hear a new cover of this famous song that’s as deeply felt and full-hearted as this. Beth’s emotion is barely controllable and almost inconceivably poignant, while the firestorm of Gales’ guitar in the finale creates a superlative interpretation of a song that’s always filled so many lives with the type of freely given human generosity that — we all know in our hearts — will overcome the burden of pain.
The title is released on February 8. It can be pre-ordered here
Words: @neilmach 2019 ©