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Loud & Lonesome: 3 Stars/Roscoe's Gang: 4 1/2 Stars
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Brooklyn-based artist known for his blistering guitar work, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel was one of the leading proponents of American roots rock, both as a musician and producer. After serving in an early incarnation of Joan Jett's Blackhearts, in 1981 Ambel formed the Del-Lords with ex-Dictator Scott Kempner. One of the more successful bands to spring up from the "roots rock revival" of the early '80s, the Del-Lords were essentially Kempner's baby, although Ambel did occasionally take over the lead vocal reins. After debuting in 1984 with the LP Frontier Days, the group issued three more albums - 1985's Johnny Comes Marching Home, 1988's Based on a True Story, and 1990's Lovers Who Wander - before Ambel's exit hastened the group's breakup.
Ambel left the Del-Lords to focus on a solo career, which he had begun in 1988 with Roscoe's Gang, a laid-back rock record cut with the aid of the Skeletons, Peter Holsapple, and other friends. The LP was a combination of originals as well as covers of Bob Dylan, Swamp Dogg, and Neil Young, the artist to whom Ambel has been most frequently compared throughout his career. He did not release another solo LP, however, until 1995, at which time he issued Loud and Lonesome. Throughout the 1990s, Ambel's greatest visibility was as a producer of likeminded musicians, including Nils Lofgren, the Bottle Rockets, Blue Mountain, the Blood Oranges, Go to Blazes, and the Dog & Pony Show. In addition, he played with ex-Georgia Satellite Dan Baird in a raucous hillbilly side project called the Yayhoos. - All Music Guide
__________________________________________________________________________________________________Since leaving the Del-Lords in 1990, New York singer/guitarist Eric "Roscoe" Ambel has made a name for himself as a producer specializing in unpretentious rock with a distinct country edge. Working out of Coyote Studios hard by Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, Ambel has manned the board (and sometimes played guitar) for records by such rootsy acts as the Bottle Rockets, Blue Mountain, Blood Oranges, Simon and the Bar Sinisters, Go to Blazes, Mojo Nixon and Nils Lofgren.Recorded while Ambel was still a Del-Lord, Roscoe's Gang is a casual good-time rock'n'roll session with the Skeletons, Peter Holsapple and other likeminded pals. In the joyful party atmosphere, cover versions of Swamp Dogg, Bob Dylan and Neil Young songs meld easily with originals by Ambel, co-producer Lou Whitney, Holsapple and then-bandmate Scott Kempner. Ambel takes center stage more confidently on Loud & Lonesome, writing with members of a gang that includes Terry Anderson, Kevin Salem, Dan Baird and former Del Fuego Dan Zanes. (Ambel, Anderson and Baird have since coalesced into a loose part-time combo dubbed the Yayhoos.) With his overdriven, wailing guitar and reedy vocals, Roscoe favors the more rock side of the (don't-call-it) cowpunk equation, sounding like a less-ravaged Neil Young. "Way Outside" and "I'm Not Alone" would not sound out of place on Ragged Glory. - Steven Mirkin, Trouser Press"