A lot can be said about the last few Neal Morse releases, but perhaps the most eye opening was the addition of multi instrumentalist Eric Gillette. While seeing Morse on the tour for “The Great Adventure”, I was blown away by seeing Eric perform live. It was apparent that he was an extremely talented individual. It wasn’t until his YouTube series of covers though, that I truly realized the obscene level of talent he has. In fact, I almost considered filing a police report, as that much talent in a single person should be illegal. Now, Mr. Gillette has released an album collecting several of his YouTube covers series, along with a few bonus tracks. How does this release fair? Quite well.
Let me get one thing out of the way, because I don’t want this proverbial elephant to cloud out this review. Cover songs can be some of the most difficult things to pull off well, and often the most difficult thing to make people happy with. On one side, if you follow the original too closely, people will say “Well, why did you bother recording this in the first place?”, and if you change it up too much, especially on a beloved favorite, you risk alienating people. By and large, Eric sticks fairly close to the original arrangements of the tracks, so if you weren’t a fan of the original songs, I don’t really think that (almost) anything Eric does on this album will convert you.
With that having been said, the key to looking at this album is that it is performed, recorded, and produced by a single person. Take that in for a second. Let’s look at “Bohemian Rhapsody” for instance. You had Freddy Mercury giving an insane vocal performance, Brian May giving one of the most iconic guitar solos of all time, along with fantastic performances by John Deacon and Roger Taylor, all the while having one of the all time great production jobs by Roy Baker and the band. But that’s just it. You had a team of highly talented individuals coming together to contribute a bit each to make something special. Here, Eric Gillette pulls off an absolutely flawless cover of an extremely difficult song completely on his own. From the opening multi-layered a-capella vocals, to Brian May’s iconic solo, to the heartbreaking ending, it’s all done by a single man, and it’s done flawlessly, and lovingly.
Eric performs his heart out on every single track. From the opening gallop of Led Zeppelin’s iconic “Immigrant Song”, Eric leads you through (mostly) iconic songs that make you wonder how one person could fill so many shoes and be so versatile. Instrumentation aside, Eric manages to seamlessly assume the style of many iconic singers. From the wailing of Robert Plant, the range of Freddy Mercury, the grit and anger of James Hetfield, and the charm of The Beatles, Eric can literally do it all, and completely manages to fill their very large shoes.
Aside from covers of some classic rock and metal staples, there are a few oddball tracks that Eric throws in here and there. These are semi-orchestral covers of a few TV and movie themes, and while fantastic on their own, showcasing his excellent mastery of orchestral and synth packages, they do feel a bit out of place on an album mostly devoted to standard rock fair.
And then came a spider. More specifically, an itsy, bitsy spider. Yes folks, in words I never thought I’d put to paper, the best track on this entire album is Gillette‘s cover of the timeless nursery rhyme, “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider”. On an album of relatively straightforward covers, Eric lets his prog freak flag fly on this track, taking this children’s song to heights I never thought possible. The arrangement is chock full of odd time signatures and changes, layered vocals, and to me, shows the real promise and genius of Eric Gillette. It’s really a stunning song, and quite honestly, I wish we had gotten more of this type of arrangement, because it’s done so insanely well.
Besides being a chance for Eric to collect several of his online songs into a digestible album, I view this release as a sort of “Eric Gillette Primer” to the music world. This collection shows you exactly what Eric can do, and in many ways, is a bit of a resume for a job application. And really, there’s nothing this man can’t do. He sings. He drums, He plays lead, rhythm and bass. He plays keys, and can absolutely do multi-layered orchestral pieces. He produces and mixes/masters. Eric Gillette is at the forefront of the next generation of prog-rock superstars, and this album makes me eager for another solo release of original songs, because as I’ve stated earlier, this is a man of insane talents.
Released By: Self-Released
Release Date: October 28th, 2022
Genre: Classic Rock / Progressive Rock
- Eric Gillette / All instruments
“Covers Vol. 1” Track-listing:
- Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)
- Separate Ways (Journey)
- Dream On (Aerosmith)
- Captured (James Newton Howard / King Kong)
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Gasoline (Audioslave)
- Through the Never (Metallica)
- Georgia Woods (Keith Urban)
- Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
- The Mosquito Coast Main Title (Antonio Pinto)
- Chasing Shadows (Kansas)
- Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles)
- Smile (Nat King Cole)
Order “Covers Vol. 1” HERE.
A fantastic collection of songs showcasing the insane talent and outstanding musicianship that Eric Gillette possesses. While sticking fairly close to the originals, these are outstanding covers of timeless songs that Eric masterfully performs and records. His prog-rock re-imagination of the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is worth the price of admission alone