Check out the fuzzy guitar and driving rhythms of Eric Ambel’s latest video, his version of the Nick Lowe classic ‘12 Step Program (To Quit You Babe)’. Sonically, it’s upbeat, uplifting and gets you moving. Ambel’s guitar pulses through the song with searing solo interludes and he delivers a powerful vocal performance. Ambel explains how his cover of the well-known song originally came to be recorded: “I was asked to submit a track for the 2005 Nick Lowe tribute record titled ‘Lowe Profile’ from Brewery Records and I chose this track from Lowe’s landmark 1994 release ‘The Impossible Bird’, which features my hero Bill Kirchen on the electric guitar. I recorded the song quickly at my studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn playing all the instruments except the drums which were done by my cohort Phil Cimino. I had fun with all the vocals and the drop tuned guitars. Phil had fun whacking the ‘china cymbal’ with the ‘tambo-stick’ more times than he ever had in a single song. The real highlight was getting to perform the song at a Lowe Tribute at the Birchmere in Virginia with Bill Kirchen playing and singing with me.”
Ambel explained to AUK how he came to produce the new video: “My version of Nick Lowe’s ’12 Step Program (To Quit You Babe)’ was recorded a while back for a tribute to The Basher. I re-released the track on my Bandcamp during the pandemic as part of the Shut In Singles Series. I collected those tunes and added one more, an actual honky-tonk version of The Rolling Stones ‘Honky Tonk Women’ and released them as my latest CD titled ‘You Asked For It’. I’ve produced Sarah Borges’ last three albums and I’ve been touring with her too. We’ve been playing the Nick song live. We grabbed a few videos from friends during our tour and had Don Adams edit them for this video. We sure hope to see some of you when we visit the UK starting with our date in Winchester at The Railway on the 17th of November.” The video was put together by Don Adams and features footage taken on iPhones from a recent US tour. Alongside Ambel, bandmates Keith Voegele (bass) and Kenny Soule (drums) perform solidly, underpinning the song well. Long-time collaborator Sarah Borges can also be seen in the video. She took to the road with Ambel and, in this version of the song, she delivers backing vocals and forceful guitar.
Eric Ambel, often called Roscoe by his friends and collaborators, is a special talent. He’s well known as a producer (Nils Lofgren, Freedy Johnston, Blue Mountain and more) as well as a songwriter. Perhaps he’s best recognised as a member of several highly regarded bands throughout the 1980s and ’90s and into the 2000s. Most notably, he rocked out with Del-Lords, Roscoe’s Gang, the Yayhoos and Steve Earle’s backing band The Dukes. All these groups were vehicles for Ambel’s rock guitar and they delivered absorbing, driving music full of verve, energy and force.
Check out Ambel’s latest album, ‘You Asked For It: The Shut In Singles Series’, which is out now. The project began as individual digital single releases during the pandemic and the end result is a collection of fine songs that have inspired Ambel; they’re well-chosen and are delivered with confidence and passion. Tap your feet and enjoy this.
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