When you look at it, life isn't necessarily that complicated after all. For example, if you want a bespoke cabinet, and can afford it, you go to a bespoke cabinet maker. If you want a high quality suit, and don’t mind paying a fortune for it, you go to somewhere like Savile Row. If you want to hear quality blues guitar you go and see Eric Bell. The good news is that the last one is far cheaper, accessible to the likes of you and me, and a lot more rewarding.
Eric Bell’s new studio album Lonely Nights In London sees the former Thin Lizzy guitarist back in the studio for the first time since 1998’s Irish Boy. He serves up ten tracks that mix originals and covers in near equal measure. Drenched in honest blues, trademark melodies, and solid song writing this album is well worth the 12 year wait.
This is the guy whose musical pedigree speaks for itself. He started in several local Belfast based bands, including a brief spell with Them, who once featured Van Morrison. He was also part of Glasgow based band The Bluebeats, giving up his day jobs that included working in a pickle factory, to join and become a professional musician. Then there was The Shannon Showband who worked the Yorkshire circuit.
Back in Belfast he was in Shades of Blue and latterly in Dublin's The Dreams but in 1969 he decided to form his own band. One night he saw a group called Orphanage which included singer Phil Lynott and Brian Downey on drums. They got together, chose a name, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Signing with Decca Eric would play on the first three Thin Lizzy albums, their self titled debut, Shades Of A Blue Orphanage, and Vagabonds Of The Western World. It’s also Eric on one of Lizzy’s most successful singles “Whiskey In The Jar."
As Lizzy got bigger so did the pressure. It culminated in Eric suddenly quitting the band during a gig at the end of 1973. His time with Lizzy was not yet over however and he would later appear as a guest on their 1983 tour.
This pedigree led, at various times, to him touring with the legendary Bo Diddley and working with ex-Jimi Hendrix Experience bass player Noel Redding. The stories of Eric and Noel’s times together in and around the pubs of Cork make for great reading on the biography page of Eric’s website.