Review: Phil Gates – Live At The Hermosa Saloon

Posted on: Sunday, Dec 8, 2013

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Phil Gates – Live at the Hermosa Saloon

(CDT Productions: PGCDBBY7

Phil follows his last album (“Addicted to the Blues”) with this, a live album; I have always felt that live albums are one of three things an act of foolhardiness, a timely and confident summation of the essence of the artists’ craft or merely recording contract filler? In this case I am more than happy to state that it is the second of the three possibilities.

The eleven numbers found here are delightful, featuring two covers and Phil’s own material they are all wrapped up in a seriously mellow mood, Phil’s laconic and relaxed demeanour simply adds to the lazy Sunday afternoon atmosphere. This is more than evident on the opening number “Addicted To The Blues,” where we find Phil’s luxuriant and loose guitar work enticing you into his musical web which certainly indulges your ears and other senses.

Where his naturally soft and gentle speaking voice is very reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix it does actually follow that his vocals take on that similar timbre of Jimi’s. As you listen to the intricately satisfying breathy and wheezing organ work of Morris Beeks on such numbers as “Away I Go,” and “Old School,“ you can easily visualise his fingers nimbly caressing the keys causing them to create the infectiously bubbling and driving surges of sound that whirl around your ears, this is all most definitely underpinned by the masterfully understated bass playing of Ron Battle and rock solid playing of drummer Keith Williams.

One of the covers is the unexpected Lovin’ Spoonfuls “Summer in the City,” a mellow rolling and tumbling jazz edged slowburner that particularly captures the unwinding feeling of a late summers day, the other is a rumbustious pairing of Phil’s energetically tearing and urging guitar with the poking and stabbing of Morris’s organ. The invigorating “End of The Day,” fuses Phil’s roaring guitar with Morris’s bouncing keyboards, this mood is continued with “Evening Train,” a fine urging and playful shuffle that includes a lovely organ solo that could only be found at the circus.

One of the most laidback numbers here is “I’m Lost,” an epic pain fuelled blues slowburner that uses searing emotive guitar and solemn organ to roll out the suffering of hard times, lost love and despair.

The dulcet tones of all concerned here combine to bring you an album that is so pleasant and relaxing that you should be wearing headphones and horizontal to fully appreciate this music.

BRIAN HARMAN

www.philgates.com

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