Social Diseases & Other Misfortunes
- Artist: Allan Neff
- Format: CD
- Release Date:6/6/2006
A letter to the listeners: It's no secret, I also like listening to music, all kinds. For me there´s nothing more enjoyable than some time on my hands, my favourite armchair, a set of good headphones and a CD full of good sounds. It could be instrumental music or with lyrics. Classical, jazz, folk, rock or blues and all that good stuff that fits over, under, around, through and in between. That´s what you'll hear on this album, a type of hybrid derived from all those sounds that I enjoy so much, though nothing really pure, more of an amalgamation of their essential elements, more around and in between than anything else. There´s something else you should know. I like conceptual things, like words, like concept albums. This is a concept album. I´m hoping that there are other people out there like me who relish listening intently from beginning to end to all the bits and pieces that make up a composite whole. People who enjoy following a fine thread of thought that somehow links all the given elements under a common theme. My future is wishfully envisioned with concept albums. Of course, if you´re one that isn´t of this temperament, I believe you´ll still be able to listen randomly to the songs and enjoy them individually. But for the record, right from the start, right down to the choice of the album cover, there was a deliberate effort to conceptualize, to generate a thinking process. It´s more prose than poetry. Conceptualizing. Is that too highbrow? I certainly hope not. But on the lighter side, even though the songs deal with sad and heavy themes ( how could it be otherwise, it´s about social diseases and misfortunes ) there was room for (and there always will be room for) the occasional insertion of tongue-in-cheek humour and twists of ironic wit. Friends, sometimes you do just have to laugh. Last but not least. The musicians. They were all European, which was beneficial to me. They pumped a certain sound into the music, spiced it with a touch of their own artistry, which gave my American compositions a distinct texture and flavouring. They were all highly professional and a pleasure to work with. I also had the added good fortune of having The Spanish Backbone Band, a trio of solid Spanish musicians, backing me on all the numbers . They are: Cheluis Salmerón on bass and keyboards, Pablo F. Padilla on guitars, and Diego Contreras del Río on drums. Look them up on your browser. There was also a female ingredient within this stew. Marie Carmen Hernández had the important job of being the second vocalist and of contributing to all the backing vocals. I´m also indebted to her for her collaboration with me on the vocal arrangements themselves. I asked her if she would be willing to write a little blip about the music or about her participation in the project. Here´s what she had to say : "Singing Allan´s songs was a gift to me. His music is full of interesting instrumental touches and subtleties, and his lyrics are witty, sometimes you will find yourself chuckling, while at the same time they make statements serious enough to keep you pondering. Most of the tracks are unconventionally constructed, of an ad-lib nature, so that you are all of a sudden surprised by a change of tempo, a one-too-many-syllable verse, or an unexpected effect of the electric guitar or the keyboards. All in all, I can say that it was fun, and a cool experience." Marie Carmen Hernández That, I think, sums it up. Except, perhaps, for a more detailed account of the songs themselves. The album's first track begins with non-musical effects and is, in reality, nothing more than a type of dirge, marched along to Semana Santa drumming. The second track tastes of a bossa nova beat, although it was written as a rock song. The JUNGLE, the fourth track, is a mini-opera, and is the longest song on the album, running eleven minutes and eleven seconds. The actual song ( there's an introductory ambience ) starts out in a samba style, but then weaves in and out of many movements, adding jazz, rock and even some classical touches along the way. There are also three blues numbers. The great thing about a blues tune is that you can do so many different things with it yet it will still retain it's blues quality. I consider the three on this CD to be, in their order of sequence: a honky tonk rhythm and blues; a folky, funk blues; a pseudo-jazz blues. The rest of the tracks are just as individual. There´s a country ballad, a rock-gospel, and much more. Well, that about does it, and thanks for reading this plug. I hope to be hearing something from you soon. Sincerely, Allan Neff.