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Author: Subject: 1990 lineup with Johnny Neel

Extreme Peach





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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 01:46 PM
Not to bad mouth anyone, but Johnny Neel was just not a good fit at all with the ABB sound. Sitting here at work listening to the 9.23.90 Syracuse show, and the dude's chops are all over the place, right now he is butchering Jessica. Way too avant garde for the ABB sound. And this is after his solo in True Gravity which I thought was as bad as it could get until Jessica started playing. I am almost dreading to hear Whipping Post coming up!

[Edited on 1/31/2014 by Wayne]

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 01:56 PM
Yep, 2 minutes in and he has taken it to where it does not even sound like Whipping Post anymore. He must have gone to the "Ornette Coleman" school of piano.

[Edited on 1/31/2014 by Wayne]

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 02:11 PM
I have that same impression and I was just listening to that same show a few days ago. On the whole I thought "True Gravity" from that show was off the hook, but Neel's playing is often dissonant. No matter how amped up and powerful the ABB sound or how wild they get in the improv, there is always melody and Neel often seems at odds with the melodic structure of the songs.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 02:15 PM
Ya gotta keep in mind that good drugs were a lot cheaper in those days.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 02:49 PM
He was great when he stayed "on the reservation"

I love and always missed his piano solo on True Gravity. Haven't heard the show mentioned here and he did lose the theme a lot, but it should be recognized that when he hit the mark, he played beautifully.
Particularly on the studio cut of True Gravity.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 02:50 PM
I'm glad others have stated this. I thought I might be in the minority. I just think his interpretation & playing was all over the place. Maybe with the right band he's a fit, as he can obviously play. Possibly we were spoiled by Chuck, and the expectations were to fill his style, but at least to my ears a more melodic paino playing style was a compliment to Dickey's guitar playing.

Bruce Katz has played a bit here & there last few years and is a good fit - a little busier than Chuck, but nowhere near as busy as Johnny. Bruce made a positive impact when he sat in. My 2 cents.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 03:25 PM
quote:
He was great when he stayed "on the reservation"

I love and always missed his piano solo on True Gravity. Haven't heard the show mentioned here and he did lose the theme a lot, but it should be recognized that when he hit the mark, he played beautifully.
Particularly on the studio cut of True Gravity.


I totally agree with this. if he had a lot of improv space it went further and further out. Kept to a minimum he seemed to trim it down and keep it lean and mean and sounding good. This version of True Gravity goes 32 minutes or so with all the solos. He gets pretty far out there.

I don't dislike his approach but it didn't always fit the ABB music. I have most of his solo albums which cover a LOT of musical ground. Plus Jack Pearson plays on a one or two so that's a big plus

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 05:01 PM
In 1989 he had some synthesizers with him to go with his piano. Oyyy... Elizabeth Reed and Jessica got some synth treatment that summer. The synthesizer was ditched by the recording of Seven Turns album and 1990 tour thankfully.

His sound was very welcome to my earns on the Seven Turns album, where he stayed in the pocket; and his solo in True Gravity is classic. His piano on the acoustic Seven Turns from MTV unplugged helps make the song.

However, more often than not, he was all over the place and not very in the pocket. Not my cup of tea either.

To me, piano in the ABB sounds amazing when it is played by Chuck Leavell or Bruce Katz. Those two enhance and add some change-of-pace-lightness to the sound to every occasion. Hope they can hook up with Chuck a few times this year when he returns to the States!

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 06:11 PM
I love Bruce Katz. I've seen him play with GAF several times and as Bruce Katz Band and CKS Band http://cksband.com/ Stunning playing. My wife says he plays too many notes.

I love Chuck too of course, but Johnny Neel belongs performing his own music.

I did not see the band in 1989. I didn't even know they reformed until I read about Seven Turns coming out <-- Confession of a young metal head. When I heard the synth on the tapes a long while later I was aghast. I thought they'd learned that lesson with the Keytar.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 06:34 PM
I was glad to see him leave The Brothers even though I liked him on some of the studio stuff, but now that I listen back to live shows, I welcome the chances the band took back then. The Allman Brothers are my favorite band, but they are/were more often than not, a band who just took long solos as opposed to real jamming. Anything off familiar terrain will put a smile on my face these days, warts and all.

His voice is the thing that disturbs me (if that's him singing on the Blue Floyd recordings).

Blooby

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 07:17 PM
In Blue Floyd it depends on the song. Marc Ford sang some, Johnny some and I think Berry O Jr. sang a few too.

 

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  posted on 1/31/2014 at 10:57 PM
Although a talented musician, I did not think he was ever even close to being anywhere near a "good fit". Not the same sense or use of melody and pentatonic scale as the others.

 

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  posted on 2/1/2014 at 12:50 AM
johnny neel was great with the dickey betts band in the mid 80's when dickey was doing a country swing with a mix of his abb classics.

 

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  posted on 2/1/2014 at 01:03 AM
Johnny's songwriting certainly helped the Seven Turns album. He co-wrote 4 tunes including It Ain't Over Yet, which I thought was a great vehicle for Gregg. His harmonica playing was also an asset to that record.

 

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  posted on 2/1/2014 at 12:33 PM
quote:
Johnny's songwriting certainly helped the Seven Turns album. He co-wrote 4 tunes including It Ain't Over Yet, which I thought was a great vehicle for Gregg. His harmonica playing was also an asset to that record.


So true. So true. Love that tune. Love all the comments here. All are valid. I just dig Johnny. I dig the fact that he seemed to feel he was just as important to the ABB as Gregg or Dickey. What balls! And nobody can convince me that because Johnny was blind that he didn't always start his solo on the right note because he couldn't see the keyboard. What I liked is that it never seemed to bother him. Johnny IS a hell of a musician. Saw him play in another band and he was beyond stellar! Besides Jack P, Shane Theirot played on one of Johnny's solo records, "Late Night Breakfast." Shane is now the musical director on Live From Daryl's House. Great guy. Great record. Ironically I find Bruce Katz' playing very boring.

 

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  posted on 2/2/2014 at 04:54 PM
Johnny Neel was also in Blue Floyd which was cool also. I heard his drinking was the reason he was booted out of the band. Jonny is from Delaware. Back in the early 2000's I used to do road trips and follow Dickey and Great Southern all over. They played the June Jam in Delaware they headlined and Jonny Neel's band played also. Thats when Dickey had Dan Toler Chris Jensen on Sax and Brother Dave on Bass. When Dickey played he called out Johnny and they jammed on some songs. I was right up on thew stage standing in Hay they put down to cover the mud from a big thunderstorm. I was in all my Glory seeing Dickey wailing away on Blue sky. That was awesome. This is before all the rumors of his bad playing and drinking.. It was a great show I know I was there...Take care Ed
 
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  posted on 2/2/2014 at 05:25 PM
I believe Johnny contributed a fair amount of keyboards to Gov't Mule's - Life Before Insanity. Kinda surprised that they didn't add him to the band permanently.

Johnny put out this cool live disc in the mid 90s that contains some song titles & pickers that get discussed around here:



Tracklist:

1. Society Hill
2. Just My Style
3. Maydell
4. Read Me My Rights
5. Lost the Will to Love Me
6. What Am I
7. Bless My Soul
8. Turn on Your Love
9. The Blues Ain't Nothin'
10. Easy Come, Easy Go

Johnny Neel - Vox & Keyboards
Jack Pearson - Guitar
Delbert McClinton - Backup Vox & Blues Harp
Tim Loftin - Bass
Scotty Hawkins - Drums

http://www.homegrownmusic.net/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product _Code=Neel3

 

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  posted on 2/3/2014 at 02:56 PM
Heard Johnny play with the ABB three times, a couple times with Dickey's solo projects. I also collected a lot of Bros shows back in the day, on cassettes. As others have already said, he really didn't fit in well with the ABB, but added a lot to Dickey's bands. However, I will always remember, on 11/1/90 the band was playing a theater gig here in Columbus, a 3 hour + show. If y'all have any way to listen to it, I highly recommend it. For whatever reason, Johnny was reining himself in that night, and the show was fantastic. Still one of the three best ABB shows I've ever attended. Sang one song, Blues Ain't Nothin' if I recall. Some nice harmonica in places, kept most of the keyboard solos in line with the songs' chord structures. It's a shame he couldn't consistently play this way with the Bros., and save his "out there" stuff for solo shows. Oh well. I also have the "Comin' atcha..." album, real nice hot blues tunes.

 

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  posted on 2/3/2014 at 05:41 PM
I saw the Orlando show during the Theater tour of 1990. The show was good but imho was way too loud. It left a ringing in my ears that lasted at least 3 days. Johnny was way off to the right of the band but was getting his licks in. No Chuck Leavell.

 

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