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ERIC AMBEL —LAKESIDE (Last Chance Records / At The Helm Records)


Guitarist, producer (everyone from the Bottle Rockets to The Backsliders by way of Go To Blazes, Nils Lofgren, Freedy Johnson, Sarah Borges, The Blood Oranges and Blue Mountain etc) and recording artist Eric Ambel is joined here by some of his friends, and as expected holds nothing back when he steps up to the microphone. His playing of electric lead guitar has figured in top-notch albums from Steve Earle (as a member of his band, The Dukes) plus Joan Jett and Run-DMC among others. Though not a prolific recording act in his own right, Ambel not only has performed on albums by the above, but with bands he’s been in; the Del-Lords, The Yahoos and his own, legendary combo, Roscoe’s Gang. Ambel, known to his friends, associates and band mates as Roscoe is an honest roots, roadhouse country / rock’n’roll act.

On Lakeside, his vocals are solid and with the likes of lead-off track “Here Comes My Love”, written by his Del-Lords band mate Scott Kempner it sounds like a lost song by the Traveling Wilburys! He follows the song with another high-flyer, “Hey Mr. DJ”, it is one of three songs that feature the name of a Ambel’s good friend ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers’ act Jimbo Mathus. The other tracks are likewise up there; “Let’s Play With Fire” and the incessant “Massive Confusion” as hints of punk rock rear. Mathus not only provided some of the songs but also produced the record.  

While on some tracks I feel a little too much emphasis is placed on the playing (that isn’t a jab at the final track, instrumental piece “Cryin’ In My Sleep” because it is an outstanding cut). His version of Gillian Welch – David Rawlings’ “Look At Miss Ohio” starts off fine, but I could have done without the ‘jam’ that takes place. More like it is his fiery version of “Money”, a song that’s enjoyed countless covers. I recall The Beatles doing it, and like Ambel they also made a good fist of it! “Buyback Blues” is a slow, smouldering number that gets beneath one’s skin and into one's blood stream.


                                                              Maurice Hope 

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