Friday, April 04, 2008

Fred Neil- rockabilly guy?

He's known as a songwriter's songwriter and a folkie icon (for some details, check out this PSF article on him) but early on, he had other ideas about his music. Before the pop music world knew him for writing the sad, beautiful classic "Everybody's Talkin'" (the Harry Nilsson hit featured in Midnight Cowboy) as well as songs for everyone from Jefferson Airplane to Roy Orbison, Neil had the same idea in mind as Conway Twitty and Charlie Rich did early on- he wanted to be a rock star or at least a rockabilly hit-maker.

This relatively-unknown side of Neil's career is coming to light again thanks to a recent compilation of his late 50's/early 60's singles on Fallout Records called Trav'lin Man: The Early Singles. Though his voice isn't equipped to lower the boom on some baritone crooning (especially on the ballads), he makes a convincing case otherwise that he could have stuck with rock. "Listen Kitten" sounds like a great Everly Brothers song, "You Ain't Treatin' Me Right" could have been a Gene Vincent out-take (though he wouldn't have had as much fun with the vocals as Neil does here) and "Heartbreak Bound" is great enough as a title alone (though "You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry" is a runner up for best song title) while "Trav'lin Man" itself sounds like a ready made for Johnny Cash. In all those times, the artist gets overwhelmed by his already-expert songwriting abilities but who cares when you have prime material to croon? In any case, it's a weird, interesting fun little piece of musical history.

Hear some clips from each of the songs at the Barnes and Noble website.


Blogger Mac Curtis Blogs said...

Nice piece. It raised my curiosity about "You Ain't Treatin Me Right". It is the same title, but a different song that I recorded in 1956.
Keep on Rockin
Mac Curtis

10:33 AM  

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