11 tracks/77:48 running time
On the strip in Hollywood, the whole sidewalk is a stage. One is apt to see Hendrix dead ringers still alive. Ukelele’d Tiny Tim Zombies with tulips protuding from two lips, dripping unknown substances. Michael Jackson wannabes in various modes of pseudo surgical modification. Such are some of the altered states of Hollywood. It’s a freaky sideshow for free even on the side streets.
This then is the backdrop for the live audio and video recording, Eric Gales – A Night On The Sunset Strip. As many of you know, Eric Gales is extremely busy both on and off stage and has been, since probably before he released his first album at age 16. Since that time he has released 13 albums under his brand and played on a multitude of other album projects. One could go on and on about his prowess and resume, but we’re here to review this production.
This project was recorded (and filmed) at the storied Viper Room in West Hollywood. A simmering intro of clamoring cymbals and doodling bass give way to an emphatic affirmation, ” Come on man, this is L.A!”. Then a funky Eric Gales guitar lick sets the groove and they are into the first track “Make It There.” Seven minutes and fifty one seconds later the reaction is, “Wow, what just happened?” There is no lack of stage presence here. Eric Gales has a physicality that suggests both the late Bobby Womack (left handed guitar stance to boot) and the Poet Laureate of the Blues, Percy Mayfield.
Midway through the set, introducing track 5, “The Open Road”, Gales announces, “Y’all know what man? I know it may look like I got Tourette’s every now and then. Don’t be alarmed. I just can’t help it. That’s how I express myself. Is that cool with y’all?”
Bassist Cesar Oviedo and drummer Nicholas Hayes do an excellent job of laying down the rhythmic pocket from which Gales showcases his superior chops. On track 7, “Bass & Drum Solos/Guitar Solo,” they get to stretch out of the pocket and show what they can do. Adding glamour and swag on background vocals are Eric Gales’ wife LaDonna and cousin Tyrone Thomas, Jr.
On Track 9, “1019”, an ode to the South Memphis address where the Gales Brothers grew up ,Dylan Wiggins, the nephew of Raphael Saadiq from Tony! Toni! Tone! guests on keyboards. He’s an amazing youngster with a deft touch. Raphael Saadiq himself guests on bass on track 11, a cover of the Rolling Stones “Miss You.”
There is no doubt here that Eric Gales is at the top of his game. Conceptualize if you will, a composite of Mahavishnu, Hendrix and Lonnie Mack plus the kitchen sink. That would be the breadth and width of this man’s chops. He is an animated player, hence the Tourette’s reference.
The live video puts you right there. Hopefully he will play in Northern Cali soon.