CD REVIEW: ERIC GALE – Middle Of The Road
Mascot Label Group/Provogue
24 February, 2017
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 ½ /10
Lawdy miss clawdy, Eric Gales has squeezed a life of living in the grooves of album #15, Middle Of The Road – which is nothing to do with mellowness, by the way, but about staying straight on life’s highway, not hitting the median strip or veering off onto gravel.
Opener Good Times merges boogie woogie blues with gospel-flavoured backing vocals (courtesy of Gales’ wife LaDonna) to make a persuasive argument for having a… well, a good time. Gales’ good times are different now: after shaking addictions and a stint in jail, the former child prodigy is focussed on family and music, and Change In Me is a beautiful affirmation of this hard-won happiness.
It’s as a teenage guitarist that Gales came to fame in the early ‘90s, and his playing – unconventionally, he plays a right handed guitar upside down, left-handed style (like Jimi Hendrix) even though he’s a right hander, as this is how his brother Eugene taught him – has only become more impressive over time. Blisteringly fast only when it’s called for, and ever-tasteful in his playing, Gales serves the song and packs heart and soul into every note, as attested by the soulful Carry Yourself.
A cover of Freddie King’s Boogie Man features Gary Clarke Jr on bad ass guitar.
Been So Long is another deeply personal track, recalling his journey – both positive and negative – his guitar again contributing far more than just notes.
Young gun Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram provides some tasty guitar work on Help Yourself, the two guitars bouncing off each other in another deeply personal tale – you can’t help nobody ‘til you help yourself, whilst big brother Eugene tears it up on Repetition.
Middle Of The Road is billed as Gales’ ‘rebirth’, and it is undeniably a new beginning for Gales, sounding – perhaps for the first time – that he is in total control and determined to impress no-one but himself. In doing so, he’s created perhaps his best work ever.
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