Eric Gales has been cutting blues-rock records for 20 years, and here, he’s playing as well as ever.
Lyrically, Transformation appears to address his effort at staying on the straight and narrow. But, like his other records, it’s the fretboard work that will keep listeners rooted.
Gales plays left-handed and upsidedown (with the low E on the bottom, a la Albert King), even though he’s naturally right-handed. Taught by his older brother, Manual, who played (also left-handed and upside-down) under the stage name Little Jimmy King, until his death in 1978. Routinely compared to Hendrix, while he travels in the same blues and rock lanes, he drives a little differently. “Railroaded” is a thudding blues-rocker with loud guitars and Gales using the wah to wrap up the song. “Double Dippin’” is a fast shufﬂe with a slight jazz feel that really swings hard. “Altered Destiny” starts as a chunky rocker with fat chords but turns funky in the middle, featuring the type of amazing ﬁlls that seem to come naturally to Gales. There’s an originality to his music at times that you don’t ﬁnd with other players of his style. For instance, “Sea Of Bad Blood” is a basic three-chord funk that substitutes a minor when the change goes to the IV chord, which gives Eric a chance to show off chops you wouldn’t ordinarily hear on a standard blues.
This is very tight music that stays loose, both powerful and spontaneous; bassist Steve Evans and drummer Aaron Haggerty are on the same page as Gales through all 12 cuts.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’12 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.