CD REVIEW: Rick Galloway - Head of the Line
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Rick Galloway
Head of the Line
Genre: R&B, Psychedelic Rock, Soul Rock, Americana
Sounds Like: Dr. John, Jimmy Buffett, The Band, Leon Russell, Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, Randy Newman
Weakness: Hot vocal mix, CD Manufacturing, Repetitive Sound/CD. More Instrumentation
Rick was born in Baltimore, MD on May 21. He has been writing stories, writing songs, playing guitar and performing in front of audiences since grade school. Rick grew up in a military family which offered him the opportunity to play in a lot of bands, in a lot of places. At the age of 16, while in Huntsville, Alabama, he was introduced to recording studio's where he cut his first demos 'Crying Over You' and 'Change Your Life'. Rick's songs are stories about situations, observations and events that have impacted him through the years. He presents these songs in a mixed style of folk, folk jazz, folk alternative, blues and country. Rick writes and records from his studio in Taneytown, MD.
The CD kicks things off with “Bottom Line Layoff” upbeat intro piece that serves-up driving rhythms, up-beat vocal melodies accompanied by inviting melody, R&B style guitar licks and impressive accents and well placed harmonies. Track 2 “I remember” shifts gears a bit with its impressive musicianship, against well placed saloon style harmonica, vocal harmonies against a grand slam chorus. Track 3 “Living Dead (Sunday Morning)” delivers smooth moving ditty with well-placed vocal melody, dynamic musical flow and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to musical fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice a lot of musical variety from Galloway reminiscent of classic Jimmy Buffett, Dr. John, The Band, Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Randy Newman and Steely Dan. First the music itself has a lot of vocal originality and possesses a psychedelic 70’s rock persona. The CD offers a rich melodic vocal foundation and lush layers of instrumentation. I would classify this music as classic 70’s Psychedelic Rock, R&B, Soul Rock and even Jam Band with a strong emphasis on vocal harmonies and good songwriting and superb musicianship. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing amazing playing, dynamic arrangements, and wire arrangement of instrumentation. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will also notice brief splashes of harmonica, Hammond Organ, Electric Piano, well placed harmonies, and amazing R&B guitar layered within the music. As far as vocal abilities, Galloway brings the mojo and lets it all hang out with a lot of groove-ability and more than enough soul to go around. His voice works well across the board possessing a vocal swagger reminiscent of classic Dr. John, with just a splash of Joe Cocker and Randy Newman. Galloway’s voice fits this style of music perfectly. Galloway clearly demonstrates a strong and confident vocal ability as he takes many impressive vocal risks along the way. All production aspects check out as the CD has solid low end groove and crystal clear high end clarity. Kudos goes out to the amazing R&B guitar showmanship featured by players: Dan Vogel, Ron Carney, Joost Prinsen, and Mike Nickey, and impressive Harmonica by Steven Carney. The rest of the band just grooves well together. Galloway deserves a lot of credit for being a musical mastermind. Not only did he play on some of the songs he wrote all this music and deserves a lot of credit from bringing this all together. Make no bones about it folks it took a lot of work to put this CD in my hands. From the grooving title track and “Late Night Western” to heartfelt “Class Reunion” to melodic and clever “He Said, She Said” and “Lemon Law” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 15 “HE Said, She Said (reprise) the perfect faille statement for a CD of this caliber.
Vocals sit really high and hot within the mix. I kept reaching for the volume knob, apparently someone decided to turn it up for me. The actual CD is made of low quality material, not the high quality Silk Screen material you are accustomed to. 1 panel insert is made of low quality print paper. Some of the aforementioned issues are not reminiscent of industry standard CD releases. CD is a bit repetitive overall needing more instrumentation; Horns. Saxophone, Piano, Pedal Steel and Banjo.
In closing Rick Galloway's latest effort Head of the Line is just a blast to listen to and is a strong musical production from start to finish. The music is highly original, extremely melodic with amazing writing and playing from all involved. As the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with it. Because of the influences I would say the flower children who like Leon Russell and Grateful Dead out there will love this one. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are quite dynamic and in extend play format many will enjoy. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the writing and singing abilities of Rick Galloway delivers the goods.