Hailing from Buffalo, Jessie Galante grew up surrounded by music from her Sicilian parents as well as the local scene. She first came to prominence with her band Actor and, after moving to LA she formed a new band, Fire, which again was acclaimed on the local scene. The group split, however, so she moved back to Buffalo and began to forge her solo career. Serendipity stepped in and she met the noted producer Larry Swist (who has worked with Spyro Gyra, Lou Gramm and Sly and the Family Stone). They eventually got married and continued working together across the States and spent a year in Europe growing their fan base and recording four albums together. Sadly in December 2013, Larry passed away and, in tribute to him, the Show Must Go On was released: the title reflecting Larry’s philosophy and ethics. Now she is releasing a compilation of those albums: Gesua (this is actually Jessie’s Sicilian name), Shine, Spitfire and The Show Must Go On. Imaginatively titled, The Collection, Jessie provides an insight into her past and, hopefully, presages what is to come.
Primarily rock based, the music on offer also includes injections of soul, blues and Rhythm and Blues. It has been difficult to find all of the musicians who have contributed across the albums, but names such as the ridiculously hard working Alessandro del Vechio, bassist Billy Sheehan, guitarists Rob Bailey (Anastacia) and Marc Ribler (Lee Aaron), bassist Jack Daley (Lenny Kraits, Joss Stone), drummer Frank Ferrier (Psychedelic Furs, Guns ‘n’ Roses), guitarist Rob Bailey (Billy Joel, Mandy Moore), plus from their time in Europe, the Hungarian guitarist Janos Szucs, Peter Raso, bassist Tibor Ferenczi and drummer Janos Takacs have all played a part. Equally, the composers are difficult to identify and, although I believe Jessie wrote or co-wrote the majority here, I do recognise Sass Jordan’s High Road Easy. The star of the show is obviously Jessie as her voice is glue that binds with the instrumentation and makes it into a cohesive whole, backed ably by this changing line up. Her voice seems to draw comparisons to Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and the like. To me however, with the style of the songs, I would say yes, there are Turner inflections, but if you can imagine a female Alice Cooper (especially on Smash You), mixed with Maggie Bell, I think I am getting close to conveying her power and intonations.
The running order isn’t chronological, but has been carefully chosen to give pace and depth. (The track listing below notes the source album). Opening with Spitfire, it certainly lives up to its title as Jessie spits out the lyrics over a really good rock riff with shades of Purple’s Woman From Tokyo in it. It showcases her voice as an instrument of its own and I love the fade too. Like A Hurricane (not that one) opens with sultry wah guitar and the verses are relatively laid back before the chorus hits a catchy vein. This is steeped in soul in its stylings but the wah solo takes it back into rock and continues to punctuate each line up to the fade. Get Away has a solid rock intro and settles into a staccato cord pattern which is like a very heavy R ‘n’ B, and reminds me a little of Faster by Within Temptation, which is no criticism. Smash You is up next and is my current favourite. With its’ great Alice overtones I could easily see this on his From the Inside album. It has clever drum/bongo patterns and accordion and Jessie sings brilliantly a lyric which could also be Alice at work (“I want to hurt you; smash you”). Wild Boy opens with a bass riff, which drives the song relentlessly as Jessie delivers a quiet and almost spoken vocal, and then a sax solo adds texture. Time for a ballad I hear you say…and so it is. No Fool No More is a soulful slow burn with keys and guitar providing the platform for Jessie to pour emotion by the bucket load over it all. Go On Rain On Me takes us straight back to rock: in fact it is very glam rock in its riff and structure. The Sweet fronted by Jessie Galante would sound like this. It is infectious and fun, with a delightful and fitting guitar solo. Yes I’m Doing Fine follows that with a funky acoustic and a clever, close following snare drum. Electric takes over on the lead to a (very) short solo before reverting to the acoustic. Diamond in the Sky has a great guitar intro, which starts off all Superstitious, as in Stevie Wonder, before it asserts its own identity. The guitar gives a heavy funk feel for Jessie to paint the pictures with her voice and words. The bridge goes a bit too Anastacia for me, but the solo rescues it and the chorus is a real sing-a-long. Your Love Is Killing Me opens with a clever foot/snare beat and warm guitar before Jessie comes in with a her most individual performance as her voice is softer during the verses and is just lovely…yes, the Turnerisms come back in the chorus, but this is a fine performance. Funk starts Can’t Find My Baby with a barred, wah’d chord guitar. This is perhaps the weakest here with its synth horns and a Tamla feel to it all, which, I’m afraid, does nothing for me. British born Canadian, Sarah ‘Sass’ Jordan provides the final song, High Road Easy. Sass is a talented artist in her own right and performs some great rock on her albums: her influences include Judas Priest, so not that surprising really, and she is well worth checking out. This cover wraps it all up in fine style with true rock from the outset, and this is a very good and faithful interpretation.
This is a well thought out and intelligent gathering of tracks, which summarise Jessie’s work very well. OK, I may have chosen some of the others but you can’t make everyone happy and this is a great way to familiarise yourself with her body of work. The rockier tracks work best for me, but all of them deserve to be heard. The various musicians are skilled and it is extremely well produced too. None of them is ‘skip fodder’ (as in iPod, not refuse!) but I doubt I’ll listen to the whole album in one sitting very often.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Spitfire (Spitfire)
- Like A Hurricane (Shine)
- Get Away (Spitfire)
- Smash You (Gesua)
- Wild Boy (Gesua)
- No Fool No More (Spitfire)
- Go On Rain On Me (Spitfire)
- Yes I’m Doing Fine (Shine)
- Diamond In The Sky (The Show Must Go On)
- Your Love Is Killing Me (Shine)
- Can’t Find My Baby (Shine)
- High Road Easy (Spitfire)