b. June 6th, 1936 in Baton Rouge (Louisiana)

d. September 1st, 2004 in Baton Rouge (Louisiana)

LOUISIANA BLUES

Sunland

July - August 1983

On se souvient souvent que le premier groupe de Raful Neal - The Clouds - comptait dans ses rangs le jeune Buddy Guy. Figure importante du swamp-blues basé à Baton Rouge, il mit pourtant longtemps à émerger. Il ne sera jamais enregistré par Jay Miller qui était pourtant le plus grand producteur local (apparemment les deux hommes ne s'entendaient pas tellement). Son premier simple date de 1958 et est publié par Peacock sous la houlette du producteur Joe Scott. Mais, ses enregistrements suivants n'auront lieu que dix ans plus tard. Effectivement, en 1969-70, Raful, très influencé par Little Walter, propose plusieurs titres pour le label Whit dont "Blues on the moon" mais cette petite production ne sera jamais reprise sur aucune anthologie. Ensuite, il devra attendre la fin des années 80 pour revenir dans un studio d'enregistrement. Pour nourrir sa famille, il a longtemps exercé un métier administratif dans un bureau de logement de Baton Rouge (un métier qu'il gardera pendant 21 ans). Avec Shirley (sa femme depuis 1957), il aura de nombreux enfants (sept garçons et trois filles) qui joueront fréquemment avec lui sur scène et sur disque : le plus connu d'entre eux étant Kenny qui mène une belle carrière dans le blues mais aussi Frederick, Larry, Raful, Noel, Darnell. Dans cette anthologie préparée par Bob Scheir et William Dudley sur Sunland, il y a deux morceaux joués par Raful Neal ("Down home blues " et "Baby what you want me to do"). Il est accompagné par ses enfants (Noel, Raful, Larry).

We often remember that the Raful Neal's first group - The Clouds - included in its ranks the young Buddy Guy. Swamp-blues mainstay based in Baton Rouge, he began yet long to emerge. He will never be recorded by Jay Miller who was the largest local producer (apparently the two men were not suited to each other). His first single in 1958 is published by Peacock under the leadership of producer Joe Scott. But his subsequent recordings will occur only ten years later. Indeed, in 1969-70, Raful, much influenced by Little Walter, offers several tracks for Whit label including "Blues on the moon" but this small production will never be compiled on any anthology. Then, he will wait until the 80's to return in a recording studio. To feed his family, he has long held an administrative job in an office housing in Baton Rouge (a job he will keep for 21 years). With Shirley (his wife since 1957), he had many children (seven boys and three girls) who will frequently work with him on stage and on record : the most notable of them being Kenny who leads a successful career in the blues but also Frederick, Larry, Raful, Noel, Darnell. In this anthology prepared by William Dudley and Bob Scheir on Sunland, there are two songs played by Raful Neal ("Down home blues" and "Baby what you want me to do"). He is accompanied by his children (Noel, Raful, Larry).

LOUISIANA LEGEND

Fantastic / Kingsnake

Blue Horizon

Alligator

1987

Il aura fallu longtemps à Raful Neal pour sortir son premier album. Pourtant, il est actif depuis 1958. Grâce au producteur Bob Greenlee, il peut enfin enregistrer un disque complet, accompagné notamment par son fils Kenny Neal et une section cuivres dont fait partie l'excellent Noble "Thin Man" Watts. Un album vraiment excellent (malheureusement un peu court) dans lequel Raful est impérial à l'harmonica du début à la fin. Quelques superbes moments : les excitants "Luberta" et "You don't love me", une nouvelle version de son "Blues on the moon", les slow-blues "Down and out" et "Been so long".

It took a long time for Raful Neal to release his first album. Yet, he has been active since 1958. Thanks to producer Bob Greenlee, he can finally record a full record, especially accompanied by his son Kenny Neal and a horn section which includes the excellent Noble "Thin Man" Watts. A truly excellent album (unfortunately a little short), in which Raful is fantastic on harmonica from beginning to end. Some great moments : the exciting "Luberta" and "You don't love me", a new version of his "Blues on the moon", the slow-blues "Down and out" and "Been so long".

I BEEN MISTREATED

Kingsnake

Ichiban

1990

Malgré qu'il soit un petit peu moins accrocheur que le précédent, "I been mistreated" demeure un très bon disque. Comme le précédent, la production est signée Bob Greenlee sur son propre label Kingsnake, l'album étant une fois encore enregistré à Sanford en Floride. Il sera réédité par Ichiban (sur sa marque Wild Dog). Plusieurs titres méritent d'être cités : "I been mistreated", "Down in Louisiana", "Hard times", "Man watch your woman". On note aussi la participation de Lucky Peterson aux claviers.

Despite being a little less catchy than the last, "I been mistreated" remains a very good record. Like its predecessor, the production is signed by Bob Greenlee on his own Kingsnake label, the album was once again recorded in Sanford, Florida. It will be reissued by Ichiban (on its Wild Dog imprint). Several titles worth mentioned : "I been mistreated", "Down in Louisiana", "Hard times", "Man watch your woman". We also note the participation of Lucky Peterson on keyboards.

OLD FRIENDS

Club Louisiane

1998

Cette fois, l'album a été produit par Johnny Palazzotto (co-fondateur de la Baton Rouge Blues Foundation) sur le label Club Louisiane. Pour autant, le blues louisianais de Raful matiné de soul-funk reste similaire aux opus précédents. On trouve quelques belles compositions de Raful : "My baby left me", "You been sweet to me", "Call me baby", "Pride and joy" et une nouvelle version de son tout premier titre "Sunny side of love". A cette époque, Raful avait, semble t-il, le projet de graver un disque entièrement familial (il l'avait confié au magazine Soul Bag) mais celui-ci n'a jamais vu le jour.

This time, the album was produced by Johnny Palazzotto (co-founder of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation) on Club Louisiana label. However, the Louisiana blues sometimes soul-funk oriented of Raful remains similar to previous opus. There are some beautiful Raful's compositions : "My baby left me", "You been sweet to me", "Call me baby", "Pride and joy" and new version of his first title "Sunny side of love". At that time, Raful possibly had the project to cut a full disc with his family (he had told that to Soul Bag magazine) but it never emerged.

ROLLIN' INTO MEMPHIS

Telarc

January - July 2000

THE HOODOO KINGS

Telarc

October 2000

Belle réunion de trois vétérans de la scène louisianaise : Eddie Bo, Tabby Thomas et Raful Neal. Ce dernier manie toujours son harmonica parfaitement. Il chante notamment sur "I've been mistreated" et surtout les excellents "Hard times" et "Luberta". Une ambiance constamment chaleureuse et enthousiasmante baigne ces faces. Production soignée de Randy Labbe.

Beautiful association of three veterans of the Louisiana scene : Eddie Bo, Tabby Thomas and Raful Neal. Neal still perfectly handles his harmonica. He sings notably on "I've been mistreated" and especially the excellent "Hard times" and "Luberta". A constantly warm and exciting atmosphere bathes these sides. Neat production by Randy Labbe.

SUPERHARPS II

Telarc

2001

Réunion d'harmonicistes qui fait suite au premier volume de "Superharp" (1999) auquel Raful Neal n'avait pas participé. Dans cet album, il n'est représenté que par deux titres trop longs ("I miss you baby" et "Starlight diamond") auxquels il faut ajouter le morceau final (sur lequel tout le monde joue). C'est bien peu.

Harmonicist meeting following the first volume of "Superharp" (1999) in which Raful Neal had not participated. In this album, he is represented by two too long titles ("I miss you baby" and "Starlight diamond") that must be added to the final track (will all harmonicists). It is very little.