Scene & Heard - CD Review
Review Taken From Issue 247 - January 2018


C D Review

Paul Neon: The Big Deal
Trevor Noddles Thrapston, Northants

12 Tracks:
1. Rockin' Like The King, 2. Gotta Keep, 3. I Like The Rock, 4. I Love A-Strollin', 5. Who Will I Fall For, 6. I Like What I See, 7. Sway & Swagger, 8. Today Till Tomorrow, 9. The Big Deal, 10. I Close My Eyes And See, 11. Two Chord Joe, 12. Save Me A Good Seat.

Sadly I'm writing this report posthumously, as virtually Paul's last breathe, was the conclusion of this CD. Many will ask, "who is Paul Neon?" Amongst 300 hundred or so others, I was a mere presence amongst those who paid our farewells on his final departure service to the Rock 'n' Roll ballroom above earlier this year. I first encountered Paul in 1975 when he fronted the Bolton based band Teenagers In Love. They played two gigs in the St. Neots area for the local promoter Jim Brady at St. Neots Public Hall, and Little Paxton Village Hall that same year, so 42 years we'd known each other nearly a lifetime for many.

Paul left Bolton, to set up home in St. Neots, in 1975/6, then fronted a Rock 'n' Roll/Rockabilly band Sun Session. They became well known touring both England and Scotland under the auspices of Lee Allen at Carousel Artistes Agency who had most of the UK Rock 'n' Roll bands on their roster. As with many bands all good things came to an end. Thereon Paul became known as Paul G, (G being the first letter of his surname). Paul officially dropped his unusual surname, so G was no more, his middle name becoming his surname. For a brief stint in 1977 Paul had a band named Red Hot which included the late Dave Taylor on keyboard. During the very early 1980's Paul teamed up with Brian Sage, then on lead guitar. Brian had been the bass player in Sun Session and now holds a degree in music. Brian plays alto and tenor saxes, plus clarinet on many of the tracks on The Big Deal.

When I first knew Paul he sang and played rhythm guitar and over the years had become an accomplished piano player. He favoured the style of Carl Mann, of which he would regularly play several of Carl's international tracks in his sets. Most of Paul's gigs became more locally focused including a raft of musicians, from Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. For many years Paul fronted Paul Neon & The Highlights, or the Saints. The latter group being members of the 1960's band with the same name. Most of Paul's followers in East Anglia and the East Midlands will remember him for his solo act, focusing on Elvis Presley's big recording sounds, or a Billy Fury tribute. It was the Billy Fury tribute that took Paul to the Michael Barrymore TV show.

Turning back to 1977 Paul Neon's long time mate, and very close friend, the drummer from the Bolton days of Teenagers In Love, Paul T.J. O' Neill, re-located with his family to Eynesbury, St.Neots where they've lived the past 40 years. Paul O'Neill had drummed with Paul Neon in many line-ups over the years, but the greatest thanks must be given to him for collaborating and producing The Big Deal along with Sarah, Paul Neon's widow. Paul Neon favoured the latter Elvis big sound recordings, which is evident in many of the songs which were all written by him during the past 40 years or so, of his musical journey through life. Paul being a real family man had several children and grandchildren. If each member of his extended family played an instrument, he could have had his own Rock 'n' Roll orchestra, some of the younger children are included on backing vocals alongside their mother.

Tracks listed on the Big Deal include; 1. Rockin' Like The King. No guessing as to who this song is a tribute to, including a spoken introduction, pertinent lyrics, repeated saxophone riffs and subtle key changes. 2. Gotta Keep. I remember this track well. Recorded 40 years ago in Cambridge, with me, yes me honking on tenor sax, one of my few recording acclaims to fame. 3. I Like The Rock. A familiar tune amongst Paul's fans as it featured in many ofhis shows with a band or as a solo artiste. The recording includes musicians of the Whitehouse Studios on backing vocals. 4. I Love A-Strollin'. A big sounding number including sax, clarinet and keyboard with great backing vocals especially for the ladies who love to stroll.

5. Who Will I Fall For? A huge ballad with big accompaniment. 6. I Like What I See. Paul had this number in his repertoire for many years and I'd listened to him perform it on endless occasions either on his own or with a soiree of musicians backing him. 7. Sway & Swagger. Possibly one of my favourite tracks on this compilation as the production has been kept relatively simple. It's themed around Elvis' work when he was recording in many of the films. 8. Today Till Tomorrow. Another big ballad, with sensitive lyrics that the ladies will enjoy. 9. The Big Deal. A gutsy number, another song that could be either strolled or jived to. 10. I Close My Eyes And See. Another big ballad where Paul uses his vocal range impressively. 11. Two Chord Joe. A clever use of two chords, simplifying Rock 'n' Roll even further from the traditional three chord refrain and also contains subtle backing vocals. 12. Save Me A Good Seat. Such is the poignancy of this track, it was played at his final departure. Paul had recommended this be included as part of the service. Every time I hear it played it brings tears to my eyes. Another old friend for countless years, Nick Hill from St. Neots was on trumpet, Sarah and family provided backing vocals with one of the children having the final few words.

This CD should be included not only in Paul Neon's fans music collections, but those of you who love Elvis' latter work, so there are many of you who would relish a copy. More information can be found on the Paul Neon Facebook page.

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