East Coast Sound CD Review:
Johnny Neel has done it again! This time around Johnny collaborates with blues veterans Tommy Lepson on keys and vocals and guitarist Dave Chappell (pronounced chapel, not like the comedian).
The title track, East Coast Sound, is a funky piece that sounds like a cross between classic Sly & The Family Stone and the contemporary Bruno Mars/Ronson song Uptown Funk.
They then take us through a classic blues number, Basket Case (since I lost you) with some great harp playing. I love it when Johnny sings the line “That’s how I roll”!
Track 3 takes it down for a heartfelt tribute to the late BB King, where Johnny sings “Another 6-stringer is heaven-bound.”
The next track, Make You Strong has some great street-smart lyrics. With lessons learned about drinking, fighting and women all making you stronger (if they don’t kill ya first).
Last Train (to Nowhere) has some strong vocals by Tommy, and tasty slide from Dave. The track has a blistering double time boogie ending.
Then the boys break out a cover of How It Rained by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper, with some great stand-up bass. This song is very soulful and sounds like Robert Cray.
Track 7 is one of my favorites with its life lessons about the aches and pains of growing old. This tune has that Delbert McClinton “Shaky Ground” feel, who Johnny has written many songs with throughout their careers. The sax and horns are reminiscent of the theme from the 70’s TV show, Fish.
The next song, time to pull out my Trick Bag, is a catchy number where the boys impart more of their street wisdom. Trick Bag is a reference. It’s a motivational expression saying it’s time to get off the couch and stir things up. Don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring.
Track 9 is a number that paints a picture in your mind of a lonely streetlamp lit street corner somewhere, it kinda has a Gary Moore feel. The sultry slow blues are the perfect backdrop for Johnny and Tommy’s tenured voices. These guys are blues masters and to hear them tag team these vocals makes this a classic performance.
Nothin’ Without You is a good vibe tune with a bit of Zydeco flair! Instead of heartbreak, Johnny gives us that rare positive love song.
That’s the Liquor Talking is good lesson with a fun groove. Johnny sings “If ya can’t hold your own, it’s time to go home”.
Track 12, Still Coming Down, takes it down a notch for an awesome vocal performance by Tommy. He sings from the heart and the emotion just pours out of him! The guitar lick has a great melody to it which makes it sound hauntingly familiar to the listener.
The album closes with Snake Charmer. I love the conga and percussion on this one; it evokes a Middle Eastern groove. On the guitar solo Dave plays a tease reminiscent of Devil Woman by Cliff Richard.
This is a great disc by some seasoned players! These guys really click together and have a natural cohesive sound. This is a timeless blues collection.