Fred Neil

Bleecker & MacDougal

Jun 1965

He gave up music to save the whales

US Folk, Folk Rock and Acoustic Blues

As this album proves Fred Neil could have been more than the guy that wrote Everybody’s Talkin’ if he hadn’t been diverted by a good cause.

Fred Neil’s moment arrived in 1969 when movie audiences held back the tears as homeless bum Ratso Rizzo quietly passed away at the end of Midnight Cowboy. As Nilsson’s cover of Everybody’s Talkin’ played over the credits the song’s strangely uplifting sway stayed in people’s hearts.

In the early to mid sixties Elektra Records championed folk and Americana in general and Neil’s solo debut was among them. All but the traditional The Water Is Wide are his originals on Bleecker & MacDougal, and a humdinger of an album it is too.

The music is a beguiling collection of beautifully recorded songs - all enveloped by Neil’s huge and deep voice. Quietly contributing to the overall sonic impact is producer Paul A. Rothchild, Felix Pappalardi on bass and occasional harmonica from John Sebastian of The Lovin Spoonful. This is one of the best sounding albums of its era, tonally rich with great definition it was years ahead of its time.

Highlights include the world-weary Blues On The Ceiling’, the impossibly pretty Little Bit Of Rain and the almost still beauty of The Water Is Wide’. The slide acoustic and Dobro of Gone Again is also delicious stuff. A “mouthful of much obliged” go the acidic lyrics in Handful Of Gimme – signalling his decision to leave the music business and dedicate his life to wildlife preservation.