Gayle Ellett & the Electromags are back with their second album which has seen them take on a quite different approach to the debut, ‘Shiny Side Up’. Although it still includes guitarist/organ player Ellett (Djam Karet) along with  Craig Kahn (drums) and Mark Cook, he decided he wanted to capture the feeling of hanging out on the deck and playing music with friends. The trio recorded the base tracks, and then they were sent to contacts all over the world to add their own lead roles over the top. By having musicians record in their own studios it allowed Ellett to involve people who would not normally work together, and it resulted in twenty-two guests over the 13 songs including members of BARAKA (Japan), Minimum Vital (France), Aisles (Chile), Electric Swan (Italy), Shylock (Germany), Edhels (Monaco), and California Guitar Trio (USA).

This means the album is incredibly varied, especially as Gayle did not restrict himself to asking just guitarists and also brings in his mighty Hammond B3 when the time is right. It certainly never feels as if it has been a disjointed recording process as it feels as if everyone is in the room at the same time, bouncing ideas and playing with massive smiles on their faces. Gayle also allowed himself to approach musicians known for playing in different genres so while we do get quite a bit of prog royalty (not surprising given Gayle’s own background) we get people from other areas as well and blues guitarist Dudley Taft is a revelation. One of my favourites is “Maximum Connection” with its bouncing keyboards by Thierry Payssan from Minimum Vital – I have always felt they are a hugely under-rated and underappreciated band whose 1993 release ‘La Source’ is a masterpiece. Here he provides a wonderful counterbalance which is a delight.

This is a complex album, yet always inviting and warm. Everyone has left their egos at the door and instead of shredding all over the top they have taken care to understand what Gayle is trying to achieve and have been considerate and thoughtful in their approach. Along with the debut, this is another album worthy of investigation. 8/10 Kev Rowland