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Gayle Ellett & The Electromags

Shiny Side Up

Review by Gary Hill

Gayle Ellett first came to my attention through his band Djam Karet. He's the kind of guy who is not content to just do one thing, though, and tends to get involved with a lot of different musical projects. This latest one is focused on a 1970s rock sound and instrumental music. I'd land it under prog anyway just because of Ellett's pedigree, but a lot of this fits there anyway. No matter how you categorize it, though, this is particularly cool music that really works from start to finish.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
No Deposit, No Return
Mellow blues guitar brings this number into being. That element holds it for a time. The rest of the band come in, and they take us out into a cool jam that has some soft rock, 70s blues inspired rock, hints of jazz and more. I'd not consider this a slam dunk to make it under prog, but it definitely has prog leanings. That said, there is a movement later that makes me think of The Allman Brothers a little. This is just an ever-changing tapestry of sound, but it's all so cool. There is some smoking hot guitar soloing on this thing, and a later section calls to mind Hawkwind to some degree.
Highway 27
This starts with a smoking hot, high-energy rocking groove. It works its way out into some definite fusion zones at times, but also gets into more of a mainstream rock sound at points. There are some space rock and Doors-like angles at times, too. I can make out more of that Allman Brothers thing at times, too.
The Old Canyon Road
A funky jam brings this one into being. The cut works out from there with some great turns and some killer guitar work. There is an excursion into full-on proggy fusion later along the road here.
Southern Slide
The riff that opens this track makes me think of David Gilmour to some degree. The whole track almost feels like something that could have been included on the Pink Floyd guitarist's first solo album. That said, there are some twists and turns, and the later portions make me think a little of Steve Howe's solo work.
Hardtailed Knucklehead
There is a bit of a surf-rock vibe as this cool instrumental rocker gets underway. As you might guess, it doesn't stay there for long, instead working through a number of different movements. This has some fusion, but overall lands somewhere in the land of 70s rock more often than not.
Donuts & Fishtails
Drums starts this, and then we're taken into a funky jam that gets into a cool rock meets fusion jam. This is such a classy and fun romp.  It has a lot of changes and covers quite a bit of territory.
Beyond The Milky Way
This trippy, spacey piece is less than a minute-and-a-half long.
Brass Saddles & Steel Trees
This number just oozes cool. It has a real mainstream rock vibe. There is some killer guitar soloing, and organ showcase section is classy. This is another powerhouse tune on a disc full of potent instrumental music.
Three Way Switch

I really like the more restrained, but still intricate, guitar work that brings this into being. Around the minute-and-a-half-mark, the track explodes out into a fast paced, fusion-like jam that is so tasty. It gets into some full prog for a time, but then twists toward more of an Americana based sound after that.

Crash Bar
The organ brings plenty of retro sound to this rocker. There are some "hey, hey, hey" vocals, but they seems like they might be a sample. The tune has some great 70s rock sound in the mix. This is a fun and dynamic piece of music. 
Trail Dust
With a lot of Americana in the mix, this just oozes cool. It's perhaps a bit less diverse than some of the others, but it has an almost grounding effect that serves the end of the album well.
 
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