Fred Neil

Fred Neil

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Fred Neil's self-titled second album was a languid and fluid gem that continues to stand outside of time decades later. The beautifully sad, introspective songs of weary modern urban disaffection that Neil brought to these sessions in 1967 are among the best he ever wrote, and the perfectly balanced electric instrumentation suits them to a T. Neil's calm, wearied basso vocals pull things along here at a decidedly unhurried pace, and the songs themselves seem to drift organically into being as he sings them, until listening to this album begins to feel like floating. And what songs! "The Dolphins" and "Everybody's Talkin'" -- a huge hit in a cover version by Harry Nilsson -- are classics by anybody's definition, and Neil's reconstruction of Libba Cotton's "Shake Sugaree" as "I've Got a Secret" is a perfect example of the folk process alive and well in a commercial recording studio. Neil had absolutely no interest in the business aspect of making music, though, and where most musicians seek the spotlight, he shunned it, which meant Fred Neil the album went nowhere commercially, although it influenced countless other artists. Long out of print, it is reissued here straight and unadorned, and while some bonus material would have been nice, it is such a perfect album as is, additional tracks may have tipped it out of balance. Fred Neil, all these years later, remains a haunting and reassuring masterpiece.

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