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Neale Haberman

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2005 sees the release of the long awaited album from Rex, which is indeed a true collaboration with Danny Neale. Check out the news page for more details and our downloads page for samples and downloads.

Neale and Haberman is a musical partnership based on a seasoned singer-songwriter and a master guitar player. It’s like Donald Fagen and Walter Becker from Steely Dan, only this record is an all-out rock effort that finally gives Dan Neale his due.” –Rex Haberman

“Writing and making a record together was natural evolution for us. Rex supplies the concepts and lyrics, I come up with melodies and guitar parts. Then the rhythm section with Noah Levy and bassist/guitarist-producer Patrik Tanner turn the pieces into solid rock songs that just about any rock of any age can relate to.” – Dan Neale

Dan Neale, Riff Slinger

Dan Neale is a musician’s musician. Once he learns a song, he never forgets it. Plus he’s got a killer guitar vocabulary; I can’t keep track of how many guitar styles he knows.” --Rex Haberman, Neale & Haberman

Rock. Blues. Pop. Country. Country-rock. Psychedelic. Christmas. Acoustic. Hit Parade….and every variation therein, Dan Neale has played them all on one kind of guitar, mandolin, banjo or another. From the roots rock of Bo Diddley and ‘60s pop star Bobby Vee to his critically acclaimed contemporary work with Martin Zellar and The Hardways, Slim Dunlap and others, Neale just might be Minnesota’s Most Valuable Guitar Player (MVGP). He’s a consummate studio pro and live performer for whom the often misused term “sideman” might have been invented.

But on the new self-titled Neale and Haberman album, the transplanted Tennessee native steps center stage to showcase what 35 years of playing in all kinds of settings couldn’t quite articulate. Neale’s sweeping guitar leads and songwriting strengths both frame and drive the record’s 12 tracks. Whether it’s the touching George Harrison tribute at the bridge of “Daughters Break Father’s Hearts,” the kick-ass southern rock sparks of “Condescending Attitudes” or the delicate lines and chords that color the record’s ballads, Neale puts on a command performance.

Neale started thinking about a full time job in music back in Chattanooga during high school, after learning early Dylan and Hendrix tunes playing in his brothers’ group and in the school band program. A slew of bar bands, playing gigs on “the beer and sofa circuit down south” -- coupled with a full time stint in an aptly named country rock group called Rawhide – turned Neale into a self-styled “riff slinger.” Capable of moving from the tasty and more sophisticated guitar work of virtuosos like Frank Zappa, Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Duane Allman, Neale can kick back into a laid-back country rock posture as easy as Joe Walsh did in the Eagles, or lay down a slide guitar groove a la Elmore James without breaking a sweat.
In 1986 Neale moved to Minnesota after meeting his wife in Fargo, after falling in love between sets in what almost sounds like a classic country song lyric. He gigged often with songwriter and Atlantic Records’ pop-jazz man Buzzy Linhart, who wrote Better Midler’s hit “Friends.” Meeting Zellar in 1994 made him a regular in The Hardways and in his annual tribute to Neil Diamond. But Neale’s gun for hire status kept him busy in many bands and projects, including a country group called Dusty Drapes, which backed singers like Johnny Tillotson and whose members also worked the annual Tribute to Johnny Cash, Ring of Fire.
Neale met Rex Haberman through producer and fellow axeman and Hardways member Patrik Tanner and went on to play on Haberman’s previous records and live dates. Haberman likens their collaboration on the Neale and Haberman CD to the Walter Becker-Donald Fagen team of Steely Dan. For Neale, the shared spotlight is a long time coming: “This is as close to a solo album that I’ve ever made,” says the plain spoken guitar master, “and I’m going to make one at some point. Until then, this is what we’ve got going on, and we’re all real proud of it.”

Neale and Haberman CD
12 Tracks (In Retrospect – from 2 Perspectives)

1) Chattering Teeth: Opening with Neale’s “big Tom Petty-like power chord followed” by his tasty slide guitar solo in the middle, Haberman explores the fragile ground of a new relationship “only to discover his lover’s ironic language of desire.”

2) Simple Touch: “Another pop-rock song, good for radio,” says Haberman. “Check out Patrik Tanner’s cool bass playing right in lockstep with Noah’s drumming. The band is really grooving on this one,” Neale smiles.

3) Cross the Ocean Wide: “My electric folk thing, kind of Byrdsy,” Neale notes. “A sublime story of two men and a woman, where one will end up disappointed when the other returns from far away,” says the storyteller. You can read whatever you like into this one.”

4) Attitudes:Molly Hatchet meets Elvis Costello,” laughs Neale. “A flat out rocker,” echoes Doctor Angry. “Is it a break up song?!” Adds Neale: “Hey, we weren’t out to make a Hillary Duff record!”

5) Looking For Tomorrow: Rex’s acoustic ballad “about finding the right one.”… “As if that ever really happens!” Neale says.

6) Daughters Break Father’s Hearts: “As the father of two teenaged daughters, I’ve learned that no matter how hard you strive to make them happy and vice versa, it doesn’t always work out that way,” explains Haberman. “It’s our most radio-friendly cut, loaded with hooks” -- “and it’s a homage to George Harrison from both Tanner and me,” Neale says, “especially how the melodic lead echoes his style, plus the way the intertwined guitars play out will make this lots of people’s favorite cut.”

7) The American in Me: “Not many people know Steve Forbert’s work, but he writes as well as Springsteen,” Neale says. “This dark song is from 1982,” Haberman adds, “about a guy down on his luck, a situation that never seems to go out of style now matter what time it is.”

8) Hispaniola: Inspired by Anne Rice’s novel, “The Witching Hour,” says Haberman. “Reminds me of a travel novel,” says Neale, whose cascading lead lines tell their own story.

9) Complicated Questions: “A typical Rex message song,” says Neale – “where the character strives to avoid complications, whether it’s in business, or whatever,” Rex adds. “It challenges people to be more circumspect and is a cautionary tale.”

10) Close My Eyes and Romanticize: Dig the languishing edge of Patrik Tanner’s electric sitar “right out of a Chi Lites’ tune,” notes Neale – Noah Levy’s highlighted drumming and perhaps the most soulful vocal performance Haberman brings to the record in a rock ballad the celebrates “how simple things make the complexities of modern life more bearable.”

11) Deliver Me: A Dylanesque cut with blood on the track. “A true break up song and my most troubled song on the disc from a troubling period,” says Rex. “That’s me doing a bluesy rock turn like Eric Clapton from his Cream days,” Dan opines. “Did you hear they were getting back together?!

12) Victory Ride: “I admit it, I loved The Lord of the Rings books and movies,” Haberman laughs. “This is about Aragorn’s victory ride after all the battles and he’s achieved his goals and become king.” Notes Neale, “That’s me doing a Leslie West (Mountain) style on lead, with a kind of country rock kick to it and Tanner playing the other harmony part.”

13) Your Time My Time: “Another oblique song about two people entangled in something and trying to get together,” Haberman sighs. “I love what Danny does in his feedback frenzy.” Says Neale, “It’s definitely a psychedelic feedback fest that reminds me a lot of early Crazy Horse.”