The only problem with Fred Neil’s music is that there’s not nearly enough of it. Unlike many of his (often less talented) peers from the 1960s NYC folk scene, Neil didn’t record much and had more or less dropped out of the music biz entirely by the time ‘70s rolled around. So that’s why even a brief, informal session like 38 MacDougal feels like a treasure trove. Taped in 1965 at Peter Childs’ and John Sebastian’s apartment Childs, who accompanies Neil on guitar and dobro throughout, the recently released collection is the equivalent of a private recital by one of the great American singer-songwriters. Neil and Childs roll casually through some tunes that would eventually end up on the classic Bleecker & MacDougal LP, in addition to some choice folk songs and spirituals. Despite its vintage, the fidelity on the tape is crystal clear and Neil sounds invigorated and in fine voice throughout; one gets the sense he might’ve preferred this kind of laid-back setting to a pro recording studio. All in all, a necessary—if all-too-brief—addition to the Fred Neil saga. | t wilcox
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