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.