Eric Gales’ new disc picks up where last year’s Crystal Vision left off. It’s a double-barreled dose of muscular blues-rock riffs, real-deal life stories, and refreshing solos. Classic blues-rock riffage is offset with angular melodies, Beatle-esque harmonies and deep pocket funk. Songs such as “Wake Up Call,” “Someday” and “Someone Else’s Problem” keep the blues alive without resorting to grave robbing. Out of the box twists and turns like “Pretty Lie,” “I’ve Got Something For You,” and “Honey in the Comb” keep things fresh and contemporary as they highlight Gales’ love for hip chromaticism, cool harmonic shifts and heavy pop-rock songwriting. Heartfelt, real-deal gospel vocals take us to the darkest of places. Gales leads us on a guided tour of the cliffs of despair, the valleys of woe, the evil that women do, and redemption.
The Psychedelic Underground is a super-charged, gain-fueled, Strat fest played over angry riffs and virtuoso wah strangulations. Producer Mike Varney keeps Gales on point and focused. The production is hot, with no frills, and very heavy. Thomas Pridgen (drums), Steve Evans (bass) and Mark Robertson (keys) provide a thick wall of slammin’ groove. Though hardcore fans may question the lack of adventure heard on 2001’s That’s What I Am, it’s probably just Varney keeping Gales earthbound in the blues.
Sure, this record could just as well been titled Crystal Vision II. But so what? It has some of Gales’ most inspired playing. It’s not every day you get to hear a guy of his caliber tell his tale and do his thing.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jun. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.