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Gayle Ellett & the Electromags — Shiny Side Up
(Bandcamp Peacock Sunrise PSR-1-009, 2022, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-06-14

Shiny Side Up Cover art

If one looks closely at the career of the Djam Karet guitarist / keyboardist, one quickly realizes Gayle Ellett has done far more outside of Djam Karet than he has done within that band. He has created the music for over four dozen television series (the 1992 Gardner & Gayle album Music for Televisions only hints at that fact), over a dozen feature films, and has performed on over one hundred albums over the last 35 years. He has a number of side projects going, sometimes concurrently, including Fernwood, Herd of Instinct, Ecovillage, Hillmen, Spoke of Shadows, Theb Maskit Chamber, Ukab Maerd, Kelp Dwellers, and probably a few more that I’m not even ware of. But Gayle Ellett & The Electromags album Shiny Side Up is the first one that actually bears his name, an instrumental trio of bassist Mark Cook, drummer Craig Kahn, and Ellett composing all eleven tracks and playing all manner of guitars, Hammond B-3 organ, and Fender Rhodes electric piano, in what is self-described as “Instrumental guitar rock with a 1970s vibe.” I would add some late 60s to that as well, there’s a lot going on that reminds a listener of rock music’s better days. The album’s eleven tracks present a fusion of rock, funk, jazz, and blues, with a somewhat progressive edge (a lot of change-ups and switch-backs) presented in song-length format. The opening track alone (“No Deposit, No Return”) features a number of different sections with wholesale stylistic and tempo changes, sometimes reminiscent of early Harvey Mandel, the jazzy excursions of Jeff Beck, some Canned Heat for good measure, even some of that Randy California styled harmonized guitar soloing. For one song, there’s a whole lot going on within those six minutes. Moving on, the next track, “Highway 27,” adds a little bit more funk and blues to the overall rockin’ mix, and some great electric piano riffage. “Beyond the Milky Way” is a beautifully expressive solo piece, not really rock at all, but superbly superlative. With “Crash Bar,” the trio presents an abundance of crunchy riffage, power organ, great guitar solos, acoustic and electric intertwined,—gotta love it. The appropriately titled “Southern Slide” combines the rocking swagger with some punchy riffs and bursts of snarly solos to boot. All taken, Shiny Side Up makes for a fun and substantial ride through rock music’s past glories.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Gayle Ellett

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