With fiery fretwork and the voice of a steel worker, Black is the hottest talent to emerge from Texas in over a decade.
While his guitar is firmly rooted in the Texas blues tradition (leaning towards Johnny Winter and Freddie King), Black is not an imitator. He is, however, one powerful performer, a gifted, Warner-Chappell songwriter and a transcendent guitar player. Neal Black is an innovator.
Produced by Gary Solomon, Kenny Margolis and Billy Roues
This record is a stark and uncompromising document of Black's strengths as a songwriter, guitarist and singer. Don't look for traditional entertainment value here - if Black scares you, you're plugged into the right message, and he wastes no time getting to the point on the chilling track, "I Don't Get The Blues."
Black proceeds to run through a catalogue of bad scenes, delivered in a voice that makes Howlin' Wolf sound like a happy guy. Each song twists Black's anger a little deeper, pushing him further into desperation - "Lost Without You" (with apologies to Memphis Slim), "Hell On the Highway," "I'm Gonna Cry," "A Thousand Yesterdays," "Somebody Call Mama."
Adding to the power of these statements is the fact that Black is punctuating them with some of the fiercest, transcendently uplifting guitar solos ever dreamed of, as if his playing itself is the only thing standing between those dark thoughts and the abyss...
...The rest of the quartet that makes up the Healers includes bassist Barry Ramus, drummer Jimmy Wormworth and keyboardist Gary Wade. A number of special guests who are major figures on the lower Manhattan scene in their own right contribute to the recording as well. Jon Paris, who has a lengthy list of credits, including playing with Johnny Winter, plays harp on "Lost Without You." Harvey Brooks, whose credits range from Bob Dylan to Miles Davis, plays bass on "Hell On The Highway" and "Somebody Call Mama." Gib Wharton, one of Black's San Antonio sidekicks and a current member of the Holmes Brothers, adds his unique pedal steel sound to the raucous "Pink Chainsaw Boogie." Gerardo Valdez, a one-time Jimi Hendrix sideman, is the percussionist on "Bridge In Tennessee" and "Lost Without You." Jim Clouse and Chuck Fisher, the horn players on "Hell On The Highway," have played with Graham Parker and Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Neal Black and The Healers is an auspicious debut that heralds the start of a brilliant blues career. Black's raw, runaway chainsaw vocal style and fret-defying guitar solos have made him a legend on the edges of the underground club scene in lower Manhattan. It won't be long before Balck leaves those lower Manhattan backrooms of legend behind. But no matter how far he goes, Black will never be too far from the spirit of San Antonio.
John Swenson, Rolling Stone Music Critic
Cradle of the blues, the U.S. has a never failing reserve of talented artists. They come out of nowhere and their first hit is usually a masterpiece. For example, Neal Black's first album: IT'S A MUST!
This bearded blues man has just brought forth a flare where one frenzied song (though not the only one) makes ZZ Top and Foghat sound like pretenders. Its title is "Out of the Hole" and it's pure red hot sizzle.
Gritty blues from San Antonio guitar slinger (formally of Dogman and the Shepherds) with the cast iron voice and flashy guitar. Pick hit: "I Don't Get the Blues (When I'm Stoned)."
Blues Access (Fall '95)
Neal Black's blues is rocking and rowdy. He hits his stride on the opening boogie "I'm Gonna Cry," and never lets up. With a gravel-growl voice and intense guitar style, he powers through the slow burn "I Don't Get The Blues," and red-hot "Hell On The Highway."
The Blade (July 30, 1995)
Neal Black and the Healers play kick ass rock n roll with a blues accent, or blues with a power chord rock lead. The sentiments are delivered by Black in an effective gargled-with-gravel vocal style. He is also an inflammatory guitarist, smoking frets with song of failed love, rambling, and mistakes that may have seemed like a good idea at the time. "I Don't Get The Blues" is a highlight, in which vocals reminiscent of Tom Waits express sentiments Harry Chaplin's taxi driver might have had if he drank instead of smoking pot. Hot syncopation on "Lost Without You" has big band breaks that don't fit but, has a red hot guitar solo. "Bridge in Tennessee" is a highlight with strong guitar work accenting a melancholy story.
Southern Maine Blues Society
With vocals smooth as gravel in a meat grinder and bad-to-the-bone guitar this isn't for weak hearts. If you like your boogie 'n' blues raw and back-alley, you'll wear this one out.
Easyriders (March '96)
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