JOHNNY NEEL & the Criminal Element
Vol. 2 (2008)

Randy Boen : vocals, guitar
Johnny Neel : vocals, keyboards
Russell Wright : vocals, bass guitar
Curtis Redding : vocals, drums


Titles :
1. Go
2. Passed Out
3. Thunder
4. Smackin' Pepper
5. Mikey
6. Hot Beer Emergency
7. Here Right Now
8. Playin On the Tracks


“Blues, yes I’ve always played it, but I’m looking for something new. I think that there is always some Blues or Blues elements in every thing I do, but it’s Jazz, Funk, Rock n’ Roll.” told us recently Johnny Neel talking about his projects with his new band. Always loving jamming on stage and trying new ideas before recording, Johnny Neel is back today with an album that confirms what he told some times ago. Right, it’s not use to try to find an old song to touch the radios hits and our ears here. Johnny and his friends obviously try to find a new way we can call “experimental funky jazz-rock with a progressive orientation” (!), an option that seems up-to-date these days. So, even if we sometimes find some Blues accents, the true orientation of this album is a real new innovation.
I must admit that for those who enjoy the styles this band mixes, the result is nice and great to listen to, with its advantages and its disadvantages. Advantages : a good band, gifted, compact, who record songs he played a lot of times before, with an interesting power and unity. Disadvantages : the innovation option can be rejected by the fans, and the experimental moments can bring the band to musical moments not so good, even if the live rehearsals have allowed them to eliminate the bad songs. The point of difficulty is to know if the audience will enjoy Johnny Neel new orientation in musical ways not so obvious to follow. Derek Trucks, in another more ‘World Music’ style, made it, so let’s hope that for this great musician, his fans will always follow him. By the way, Johnny Neel has had a real artistic and creative way he wanted to share with younger musicians, and this deserves to be said.
Now, you are warned : the fusion/experimentation here is really very far away from the orthodox Southern Rock (if it exists), but if you are ready to listen to some original and rare ‘Children of the Blues’ vibrations, in a powerful and sophisticated way, so let’s go, this album is for you !
Yves Philippot-Degand


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