Johnny Neel made his mark many moons ago in the Allman Brothers Band and his song writing credits range from Delbert McClinton, Cyril Lance, Willie Nelson, Government Mule, and Montgomery Gentry. This is just a few of his many accomplishments over the years. Well, there is another feather to put in his cap, a new album titled Gun Metal Blue.
I have to say right out of the gate that I loved every single track of this album. If I gush from here on in, please forgive me. Neel is marvelous on the keys and his vocals have that rough from-the-belly whiskey southern rock flavor, like his former band mate Greg Allman. He sounds like he plays for keeps and his soul goes into each track he records. Neel may be blind in regards to the physical body, but his musical vision is as clear and true. He reminds me of great players like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder that overcame their disabilities to shine brightly in another area of life. Neel has a gift, he can sing and play as few musicians can, and he keeps you under his spell from start to finish on this album. With all of that taken into consideration, it makes this entire project and his career that much more incredible than so many others that tried and failed going down the same path.
The combination of southern rock, blues, and hints of every other southern baked genre under the sun, makes for a particularly interesting and entertaining listen. This is a solid recording and it most certainly reminded me fondly of the Allman Brothers more than once, which is a good thing for listeners and Neel as far as I am concerned. The title track rocks with some blues influenced guitar licks to die for and on "Love Ain’t A Bad Place," he sounds like Dr. John. It's very funky number with some great musicianship. When you hear that tune, you will already be on cruise control, just like Johnny on the cover of the CD. Great musicianship is what you come to expect before even popping this CD into your stereo. Based on the man’s resume why would you think otherwise. It does not disappoint at all, as it offers 11 excellent tracks to shake your booty, too. Rock ‘n’ roll southern fried boogie. There is nuthin’ like it.
I do not think I am going out on a limb at all by saying that this one of the finest CDs I have heard in 2005, since there is only a handful that I comment on as such. This says a lot regarding the overall package presented here. All aspects of the recoding are outstanding (the playing, lyrics, production, and sound). What else is left? Johnny Neel has recorded a real dandy, so do not miss out. You need to get this CD and have a big party, which is the way Neel would want it. Great music is meant to make you feel good, get your blood pumpin’ and your feet in motion. This CD will do all of that, so why would you pass it up?