Sunday, December 9, 2007

WiLLiE HEATH NEAL : The Greatest Backwoods Country White Trash Superstar You Never Heard. Until Now.

Willie Heath Neal has the best back story that any music fan or Hollywood movie producer could dream of. He was born somewheres in Atlanta GA in in the back of a Gwinnett County police car. WHN grew up on the rough side with no daddy in sight, listening to his mama's Elvis and Hank records. Mama had big dreams but dreams ain't always free and at a very young age Willie Heath, the fourth of five, and his sibs were placed in foster care. A young career in hell raisin' landed him in the Navy where he started a punk rock band and played gigs around Asia. The band continued at San Diego at the end of their Navy stint but punk rock without finance don't leave no chance. Willie Heath and his drummer continued for a couple more years, having moved back to the ATL area. But hearing Wayne "The Train" Hancock and Shelton "Hank III" Williams and others brought Willie back to his hard core country roots. A move to the Florida panhandle brought a gig wappin' dawg house bass for a psychobilly outfit but after a time WHN decided it was time for his own thing. Rediscovering his skill at songwriting he found a couple guitar players and Willie Heath Neal and His Cowboy Killers were born. The first album was straight up damn near pre-Sun Records country style rockabilly. Bass, Acoustic, and electric guitars with no bullsht post-ironic hairdos or hotrods. No play-time hipster act talk of cats or kittens or psycho retro Ed Big Daddy Von Frankenstein's cute girlfriends greaser nuthin'. Years of relentless touring and a mind bendingly tight and exciting live shows, did it's work on Willie Heath's gankin' bass paw. WHN switched to guitar, added a drummer and moved to a slightly more classic country influenced style. But don't be gettin' any ideas of belly buttons and jeans costing as much as yr tour van. The rockabilly thrill is still there but this is by gawd late night plugging quarters in a Waffle House juke box duct taped cowboy booted ass kickin' country now. Another couple albums as Willie Heath Neal and The Damned Old Opry (including a wicked live document)cemented his postion as a realdamndeal. Always a hell of a showman with some of the best damn quips in the biz ("white trash: the only natural resource we'll never run out of." "Fellahs, just remember no matter how beautiful a woman is somewhere in the world there is somebody who is sick of her ass.") Willie Heath Neal released in 2006 what I consider his best album yet. Lonesome is a subtle departure from the previous albums, a warmer and perhaps more personal sound that's more acoustic based. Willie's voice is featured farther up front, the pedal steel replaced by fiddle and WHN accompanied now full time by Telecaster master Clay Broome. The lyrics I am happy to say are much much sadder. Willie's always had a way with a song but he's hittin' hard this go round. This album oughta be playing while yr sneakin' drinks alone in that now empty Waffle House. Song titles like Broken Hearted Beauty Queen, Wasting your time,a slowed down cover of Don Gibson's Sea of Heartbreak (which I prefer vastly to the original),Hold You Tonight and the short but quietly suicidal Goodbye should give you a real good idea of the emotional tone of the aptly titled Lonesome. For me it's Willie Heath's duet with Molly Conley of Porter Hall Tennessee on a song called No Good that really steals the show. "Closin' time. Lord I hate goin' home, I swear that house is haunted, since you been gone, and lately I ain't the popular guy, my friends all gave up, took all that they could, Lord I just wish they understood, without you I just ain't no good.". In fact I had orginally planned to just showcase No Good in my series of posts called "Greatest Country Songs of All Time?" but the album as whole is so well done and so honest I re-thought and decided that you and the rest of the world should know about another of America's best kept secrets: Willie Heath Neal.

Be Willie's Friend

Willie Heath Neal (self titled)
Ain't Doin Me Right MP3
Backwoods Country White Trash MP3

Willie Heath Neal & The Damned Old Opry "Unknown"
El Diablo MP3
Unknown MP3

Willie Heath Neal "Lonesome" BUY iT!
No Good MP3Broken Hearted Beauty Queen MP3
Goodbye MP3


  1. I agree completely, Willie Heath Neal kicks ass completely. He's the real deal. Clay Broome, his guitarist, is also an accomplished solo artist and an incredible entertainer. Definitely support these guys... they embody the reasons I go see live music!

  2. i totally agree, i saw him last night in marietta, saw him last week too-he's fantastic on his way to sxsw now...check him out


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