|Fred Neil - Bleecker & MacDougal
Fred Neil is cemented in the halls of folk history with his mix of Leonard Cohen weight, Graham Parsons twang and Nick Drake introspection, but before he'd cement some of that softer reputation on his self-titled album in '66 he lay down a classic of folk-blues that
| feels alive, sparked with Neil's backporch truck-stop delivery and clapboard shack diner tales that wound a direct line from the gravel top roads to the heart of the West Village without ever seeming disparate. The album helped break conventions of including electric instrumentation in folk at the same time other luminaries of the Village folk scene moved toward a rock oriented sound as well. Though with Neil, the integration of the instrument simply added texture, feeling like a natural extension of his 12-string folk rockers. More than anything this is an album whose influence can be felt reverberating through those who'd follow Neil down similar paths, with the album threading its fingers through the work of Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield and Tim Buckley in its wake. The real shame is that, while the album exists in a welcome reissue, no one has put it back in its place on vinyl. Perhaps 4 Men With Beards should put this one on their upcoming schedule. But, vinyl or no, this stands as not just an important high point in Neil's career but in those who'd touch on his weathered, but human, folk-blues as a touchstone to come. (Update: I stand corrected. Sundazed have an LP reissue that it seems they are only selling direct. Definitely pick that up.)
Support the artist, buy it HERE (dig) or HERE (LP).