Johnny Neel & The Criminal Element
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Johnny Neel & The Criminal Element

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Band Rock Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Awesome, Stunning, BIG, Larger than life."

Awesome, Stunning, BIG, Larger than life. The song has come ALIVE!! GREAT Vocal. GREAT, earthy band! I so hear Joe Cocker's voice on this! It was written at a time when Tommy Eyre (who I just heard, died of cancer) was in London with Joe Cocker. Joe Cocker's interpretation was always in mind for this song. You guys have SO cut it!! I'm buzzing on yer work, Johnny!!! Thanks for the love that so obviously goes into your work. Yer a REAL artist!!!! - Alex Legg

Awesome, simply awesome - Roy Elkins of Broadjam

This sounded amazing! A hundred times what it was! You guys rock! - Colleen of Broadjam

- Broadjam

"Gritz Review of The Criminal Element Volume 1"

Johnny Neel is one funky white boy. He pours the funk on heavy with the opening track, “Toasted.” It’s Tower of Power meets Edgar Winter’s White Trash, with a little George Clinton tossed in for good measure. The band is amazing. Guitarist Randy Boen blazes across the fret board, and Curt Redding on drums and Russell Wright on bass provide one tight rhythm section. Add in Johnny’s whiskey-soaked blues-rock vocals and keyboard skills, and you’ve got yourself a party.

Heck, “I Can’t Believe” kicks it up another notch. It’s like Zappa doing seventies soul, with some smoking hot B-3, and “What Am I Gonna Do” is an r&b art work about breakup, with Neel pouring his heart out.

“Damn Right” brings to mind classic Billy Preston instrumentals like “Space Race” and “Outta Space,” heavy on keyboards, but also featuring some mighty tasty lead guitar work.

The album has elements of seventies soul, Todd Rundgren (“Find My Way”), Frank Zappa, Billy Preston, Motown, Jerry LaCroix, and Stevie Wonder all blended into one mighty fine gumbo of heart and soul.

Johnny Neel is one of the most creative artists and producers working today, and this album is living, breathing proof that the creativity of this former Allman Brother cannot and will not be denied.

-Michael Buffalo Smith - Gritz Magazine

"Riverbend Chattanooga Preview"

One look at Johnny Neel pretty much tells you all you need to know. The guy has been around, hanging out with musicians of questionable character.

Neel did the bar-band scene in the northeast for awhile before moving to Nashville. He became an A-list session pianist there. He recorded with Dickie Betts. He toured with the Allman Brothers (co-writing "Good Clean Fun" from the Seven Turns album). These days he spends his time writing for country stars, jamming with rock bands, and playing his own music on the road. - WDEF Cahnnel 12

"Volume 2 Review"

> Johnny Neel & Criminal Element
> Volume 2 - 2008
Johnny has a smoking new band called The Criminal Element that is really
on the cutting edge. They can improvise better than most bands could ever
hope to. This new sound has given Johnny's always tasteful melodies a
driving energy of their own. Johnny Neel and the Criminal Element have
just put out their second release in the past year. The band is not
slowing down at all. As a matter of fact their creativity is accelerating
due to the synergistic effect of all members pushing forward and
contributing to the overall sound. The Volume 2 release has expanded on their Volume 1 release with the same fresh music and street-smart lyrics that made "Johnny Neel & Criminal Element" Volume 1 such a break-through recording.
This new CD starts off like gangbusters. The melodies are very catchy and
the first track's opening notes sound like a majestic whirlwind keyboard,
then suddenly locks down into a tight groove mixed with some crafty
sounding lyrics that are reminiscent of John Popper's Blues Traveler. The
story invokes images of a long lost forbidden love.
Track 2 starts off with a fast syncopated beat from drummer Curt Redding that brings back fond memories of Les Claypool during his most funky jams.
The chorus of the song has a full sounding texture that hints at a
Widespread Panic-type of sound, then slows down and drifts off into a jam band "space" during the break.
Track 3 allows Johnny to add some melodic keys while guitar player Randy
Boen shows off his amazing R&B vocal prowess, sounding like a seasoned Al Green or Stevie Wonder.
On cut # 4, Smackin' Pepper, Jhnny brings back some of that hard-driving thump from his earlier masterpiece, Paybacks a Bitch. Clocking in at over
10 minutes, and coupled with some rich-sounding keys, this one's a real
Track 5 will surely be a crowd favorite at live shows, with its play on
> words alluding to the pleasures of drinking good whiskey, referred to as
> My Friend Mikey. Track 6 is a great instrumental with some awesome keys that hint at Yes or some of the other progressive rock bands from the past like Emerson Lake
and Palmer. The seventh cut, Here Right Now, is my favorite, where Russell Wright
contributes a great bass solo and the muted trumpet keyboard effect sounds almost like Charlie Brown's teacher speaking to the listener. The final track is an epic masterpiece describing a 24 hour day, it's sort of a concept medley with some heartfelt vocals by Randy and some cool scatting by Johnny. I also love the way the song changes into a whole new tune, between the waking hours and the dream sleep. The second half of the tune has a Come Rain or Come shine tease that cuts to your soul, and the megaphone voiceover by Johnny reminds one of McCartney's Uncle Albert days.
The bonus cut, which has no name, I like to call Neely's Horror Fest because it sounds like a Rob Zombie film, with its kaleidoscope of
SoundBits, lustful imagery and demonic sounding echo voices.
This band has recently hit its stride and reached a new level of playing,
and there's no stopping their combined force. They're churning them out so
> fast that I can't wait to hear Volume 3 (or 4, 5, and 6)!

> Barefoot Reviews
> Pete McKernan
> copyright 2008 - Pete McKernan

"Hittin The Note Review Volume 1"

I don’t know this shit, so I just play.” That’s what Johnny Neel says at the outset of “Toasted,” the funkified-jam-on-charred-cells of a tune that he the Criminal Element kick off Volume 1 with. But c’mon, it sure seems like Neel knows everything, like some rhythm and blues voodoo priest. That’s why he can flit back and forth from a thriving solo career into a spot burnin’ up the keys in The Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule, and go on to play in several eclectic projects like Blue Floyd, X2, and Grease Factor. Here Neel teams with super guitarist Randy Boen, drummer Curt Redding, and bassist Russell Wright in order to immerse wholeheartedly in the groove. Be it the flat-out rocker “Damn Right” or the rubbery “Funk Pump,” this band has everything it takes, lays into it in extended form, and succeeds wildly at every turn. Boen, besides taking flight all over the place on guitar, sings in a tenor that’s in complete contrast to Neel’s true grit of a voice. They work perfectly together. Save for the stupendously soulful “What Am I Gonna Do?,” this album has none of the kind of Neel songs that the likes of Irma Thomas, John Mayall, and Travis Tritt have recorded. But the entirety of it is more infectious than the boogie-woogie flu. (

- Tom Clarke

" About Jazz review"

By: Dennis Cook
Twistin' one and smokin' it down, skinny dippin' in a lake and generally driving their fingers into fine, earthy stuff, Johnny Neel and the Criminal Element tap into The Mothers of Invention, Dumpstaphunk and some of Neel's earlier involvements like Blue Floyd and the Allman Brothers. Clever but streetwise, the Criminal Element - Neel (keyboards, vocals), Randy Boen (guitar, vocals), Curt Redding (drums, vocals) and Russell Wright (bass) – flow with bar band immediacy fueled by crazy high-level musicianship and a borderless perspective on music.

Not unlike kindred spirits The Codetalkers, they groove hard, dedicated to filling dance floors, but also unafraid to swing on the rings of Jupiter or some other far off celestial body if so inclined. To wit, "Passed Out," which begins in a drunken rush, the floor careening towards our nose as we smile in the descent. But, a few minutes in everything gets all floaty and nice, occasionally dropping back into the pocket assault but then drifting back into monkey mind chatter, organ swells and jagged guitar. On every cut, the rhythm team disappears into the muscles of this thing, moving it along in such a physical way that you almost forget they're there, but you sure as hell can feel them. There's a vibrancy to their instrumental conversation that's boatloads of fun to listen in on, even when they really drift off on "Thunder," which captures a bit of Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" feel but anchored to something a bit more blue collar lyrically and a strong piano and organ bed. Boen's lead vocals here offer a nice contrast to Johnny, but every time the big man opens up he owns the show. Neel is crooner of monumental power, capable of earthquake rattle depth, quivering falsetto and just about everything in between. For all his vaunted keyboard prowess, it's his voice that often stops one in their tracks, which he does a number of times on Volume 2 (Silverwolf Records).

Besides the great pleasure in seeing Johnny Neel's name at the top of the marquee, so to speak, with this project, there's the music itself, which bounces and twirls, fully alive stuff that moves naturally, no matter the mood. It's to their credit that guys who play this well also don't take themselves incredibly seriously, letting the music dwindle into chuckles and stoner references when it wants to. If Volume 2 is any indication, they're likely a treat live, and there seems to be no end of options for them in keeping things varied and engaging.

JamBase | Down South Jukin'
Go See Live Music! -


Studio Recordings
* The Criminal Element Volume 1
* The Criminal Element Volume 2
* The Criminal Element Volume 3
Johnny's other studio recordings include :
* X2
* Gov't Mule
* Warren Haynes
* Blue Floyd
* Allman Brothers Band
* Willie Nelson
* Gregg Allman Band
* Dickey Betts Band
* Todd Snider
* Peter Wolf
* Suzy Bogguss
* Janie Fricke
* Mickey Gilley
* David Lynn Jones
* Johnny Van Zant
* Pirates of the Mississippi
* Tiny Town
* Blue Floyd

Band members' previous releases:
*Mile 8
*Whatever Works
*Crazy Things
*Different Agenda
(available @ &



Born and Raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Johnny cut his first single at the age of twelve, as Johnny Neel and The Shapes Of Soul. As an adult, the Johnny Neel Band had a strong following up and down the East Coast and released two well-received independent albums.

Writing more and more, but frustrated with virtually no outlet, Johnny moved to Nashville, the premiere song writing city, in 1984. Immediately settling in as an "A" player in studio sessions, he found his own songs being cut by acts such as the late Keith Whitley, Restless Heart, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Forrester Sisters and many others. More recent cuts include those by John Mayall, Ann Peebles and Travis Tritt.

Moonlighting, with various bands, in area clubs drew the attention of former Nashville resident Dickie Betts, who asked Johnny to join his road band, and begin work on Dickie's solo LP for Epic Records. That relationship led to seven cuts on the "Pattern Disruptive" LP including the Top 10 AOR hit, "Rock Bottom." Johnny's stellar keyboard and harp playing on that album caused Gregg Allman to "borrow" Johnny, when available, for his own touring road band.

All of the aforementioned naturally led to Johnny joining the eventually reunited Allman Brothers Band. A massively successful tour followed, culminating in a number one AOR smash hits during the summer of 1990. Car radios all across America blasted "Good Clean Fun", co-written by Johnny with Gregg and Dickie, to the top of the charts, and provided the reunited Allmans with their highest charting single since "Ramblin' Man" fifteen years earlier.

Johnny was also Grammy nominated for his keyboard work as an Allman Brothers Band member on the instrumental cut, 'True Gravity" from the "Seven Turns" LP.

Johnny met Mile 8 ( 2001 through a mutual friend and his band, Chef Dave. Frequently sitting in and jamming with Mile 8 led to a musical friendship that would last for years to come. Curt Redding and Randy Boen ( had plenty of experience backing up Johnny. Russell Wright had stepped in on bass with Mile 8 near its end and developed an immediate connection to Curt and his drumming. When Johnny sprung the idea of this band The Criminal Element was born almost instinctively. These guys were meant to play together. Who knows where this burgeoning experiment will go? "Get on the bus early and ride this thing 'til the wheels fall off!" The band is celebrating the release of Volume 2, their second effort in a year.
review: Johnny Neel & Criminal Element

"Johnny has a smoking new band called The Criminal Element that is really on the cutting edge. They can improvise better than most bands could ever hope to. This new sound has given Johnny’s always tasteful melodies a driving energy of their own. I was given a rare and intimate glimpse inside the creative studio sessions for Johnny Neel and the Criminal Element’s new album. This was quite an eye-opener to see the creative process first hand. Johnny is very meticulous in his vision of the musical soundscape, and his band always responds like seasoned veterans. After listening to hours of live shows chocked full of spontaneous great moments from the last tour, the band found enough melodies and grooves to spawn many great songs. Once the core elements were discussed and in place, the band would just do their thing and inject these jams with more positive spontaneity in the studio. This formula seems to be working well, because not only does the band love it-the world is going to love this music!"

Pete M.