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Hammond Gamble is one of our rock veterans who really hasn't had his due.

He's had a haphazard recording career since the days of fronting 70s pub rock legends Street Talk. Most will know his voice these days as the one who blows the dust out of television speakers with his occasional gritty ad jingles. 

But with last year's spirited Recollection acoustic album revisiting his past career and now this impressive electric set, the Gamble is on a roll.

Firstly these dozen songs remind of his neatly balanced and deep talents - there's that familiar fine-sandpaper voice aligned to Gamble's pithy, often funny, occasionally bitter lyrics and his classic songcraft - Gamble does write them like they used to, whether it's lilting Paul McCartney tunes like Memory No.1 and the title track; or the sort of dramatic balladry like the opener I Had A Dream which is the sort of song which would improve a Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton or a Rod Stewart setlist.

And there is that blues guitar playing of his. Here, he frequently shows he's still the master of just-so phrasing  over fretboard flash, even if the occasional song is stuck doing some rudimentary blues-rock things.

But there's little filler here and Rikki Morris' production - recording in Devonport's historic
Victoria Theatre - and the supporting players give something dynamic but economical for Gamble's voice and playing to work against.

That's especially so of stand-out tracks like the brooding Waiting for Rain, the piano-powered post-divorce blues of You Cheated Me and the guitar-scorched travel-weary Back Where I Belong.  A vital crop of songs from a man whose latest vintage sounds among his best work. Much recommended.

Russell Baillie


Two years ago when this Auckland singer-songwriter and very special guitarist released his ‘Recollection’ album (acoustic treatments of Street Talk and solo songs) I noted that it served to remind what a great songwriter he was.

He'd long been acknowledged as an expressive bluesy singer and guitarist, but it had been too easy to forget just how crafted songs such as ‘Whistling the Blues in the Rain’, ‘Poison’, ‘Should I Be Good’ and other songs were.

If that album did nothing else than remind people of that it had served its purpose, but it seems to have also given the Liberation label and Gamble the kick into a long overdue solo album.

My guess is his previous one -- aside from ‘Recollection’ and the live ‘Plugged In And Blue’ from the mid 90s -- had been maybe 20 years ago.

‘Ninety Mile Days’ -- a dozen originals -- confirms that Gamble is one of this country's greatest, if largely overlooked, talents.

From the opener ‘I Had A Dream’ (which could become a standard in many jazz singer's sets) through the roadhouse blues of ‘It's Been Too Long’, the acerbic post-separation ballad ‘You Cheated Me’, the acoustic pop of ‘Memory No 1’ and the moody understatement of ‘Waiting for the Rain’ (which seems very familiar), this is an outstanding collection.


It is also notable for the musical diversity -- blues, pop, ballads, soul -- which Gamble effortlessly commands.

And songs like ‘For the First Time’, ‘I Had A Dream’ and ‘Stranger's Girl’ sound like local classics to me.

This album has been a long time coming, but it has been well worth the wait.


Graham Reid


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