Picks and Pans Review: The Eric Gales Band

updated 09/30/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/30/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Eric Gales Band

Eric Gales must have been born with a silver guitar pick in his mouth. How else do you explain such advanced skills in a 16-year-old? The debut of this prodigy, who was discovered in a radio-station talent contest in his native Memphis, has provoked the most comparisons to Jimi Hendrix since Robin Trower made his big splash in 1973.

Gales clearly emulates Hendrix both in the tone he extracts from his Stratocaster—velvet, wrapped around wire—and in his facility with the wah-wah pedal. He even possesses some of Jimi's fire and elasticity. All that he's lacking—though this is a big all—is Hendrix's aural inventiveness.

Gales's playing is impeccable both in his chording and in his solos. But he's severely restricted by the album's murky blues-rock compositions, all written or cowritten by older brother Eugene, who also sings and plays bass.

Listening to the younger Gales soar on such clumsy songs as "Resurrection," "Sign of the Storm," the instrumental "High Anxiety" and "World for Ransom" is like watching a big cat at the zoo pacing back and forth in his cage: It's impressive to watch as it is, and you know that, if he ever busted out of that confined space, he could be really awesome. (Elektra)

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