Eric Ambel Knucklehead

Any fan of the Del-Lords worth their salt will forever be a fan of what Eric "Roscoe” Ambel can do with a guitar and an original song. The hook-ready Ambel owns his own label and, between stints backing Steve Earle, has launched this collection of odds’n’sods comprised of 15 tracks accumulated over the past 14 years. From the Yayhoos to the Del-Lords, Go To Blazes, Bottle Rockets and Roscoe’s Gang, Ambel has been the hired hand of choice for consistent, gut-busting guitar muscle and vocal dexterity, not to mention his brand of street-smart songwriting and production finesse. Closing your eyes, Ambel’s sound conjures a marriage of a (youthful) Keith Richards to a less reflective Gram Parsons, armed with hooks aplenty and that gunslinger attitude that served the Del-Lords so well. A who’s who of roots-rock royalty pervade the album: Dan Baird, Warner Hodges, Scott Kempner, Tony Maimone and Will Rigby. From past sessions with pre-Yayhoos, the Del-Lords and Roscoe’s Gang with fun covers of Tom Waits ("Union Square”) and The Flamin’ Groovies ("Shake Some Action”), there are tracks here that deserve a proper airing. The Yayhoos re-recording of "Judas Kiss” with Steve Earle on harmony vocals is a case-in-point. Ambel hasn’t enjoyed the time in the sun that he deserves but this collection serves as a worthy reminder that this Knucklehead has something coming to him. (Lakeside Lounge)