Wednesday, November 21, 2012

#123: Fred Neil - Fred Neil (1966)

Fred Neil really never had any commercial success, he never really toured. However, he's one in a million. There are people out there who are ridiculously talented at something, so talented it makes most people envious. Yet they don't want a career in it because it's not what they're most passionate about. Neil is the first musician I've seen in this category. He spent the last 30 years of his life working to preserve dolphins. I may not fully understand it, but the man follows his heart - and I can totally get behind that.

The Dolphins
I didn't know what to expect, but this is not what I expected. The music in this track sounds very much like 3 Dog Night (obviously they went back in time to influence Neil) and the guitar has this very dirty, open sound to it. The bass has this very full, round, quick, McCartney-ish type tone. While bass may carry the song, the vocals grab a hold of your ears and it doesn't let go. It's such a big clash of styles, but it really, really works.

That's The Bag I'm In
The guitar holds down the fort with this simple blues line while the harmonica plays with such a sweet, soulful, and perfect tone to it. Neil sings a bit differently on this track, he's a little higher in his range and he's a bit looser. Listening to it, all I can think of is that I really want to record something like this. The instrumentation throughout is excellent, but in the mix everything is very even - there's so much space (other than the drums which are in some cases, virtually non-existent).

Faretheewell (Fred's Tune)
This track has so much energy with such a relaxed environment. The beautiful, gorgeous guitar sprinkles a light melody while the bass just plays on the and of 4 and 1 and to keep it turning around. It's haunting, it's captivating, it's incredible. Not enough has been said about Neil's voice, it's absolutely stunning. I would consider myself a baritone, but I usually write tenor parts to sing because that's more "commercially acceptable". However, Neil has me reconsidering everything.

All in all, Fred Neil is a man after my own heart. This album is what it is and it does not fake what it's not. The anchor of each song switches from instrument to instrument and the guitar work (while its not always prevalent in the mix) is masterful. He reminds me of a Jim Croce type (vocally) at times. Musically they couldn't be more different. While guitars are everything in Croce's music, instrumentation is key in Neil's. From the start of the album, I liked Neil's voice, but as the album continued I just fell deeper and deeper in love with it. It's ridiculous to me that this is the first time I've ever heard the name of Fred Neil. Neil is proof that there is no justice in this world, if the universe were truly balanced - we'd still be talking about him today.

No comments:

Post a Comment