& Heard - CD Review
Taken From Issue 247 - January 2018
C D Review
Neon: The Big Deal
Noddles Thrapston, Northants
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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