Neol Davies started his guitar playing inspired by the music of the early /mid 60s,The Shadows, Duane Eddy, The Beatles and The Who, and played in various Blues, Reggae and Soul outfits before becoming a pivotal figure and co-founder of 2-Tone Records.This kick-start to the vibrant musical and social culture of Coventry saw the emergence of a proliferation of bands linked by reggae, roots and, more famously, Ska, not only in the UK but all over the world. His seminal instrumental composition, The Selecter,on which he played everything except drums and trombone, coupled with Gangsters by The Specials, was to be the first 2Tone Records release,"Gangsters Vs. The Selecter", reaching no.6 in the UK charts in July 1979.
2-Tone became the name for the music itself and the whole look and style continues to influence and inspire.
While Gangsters Vs. The Selecter was “storming the charts” Neol formed the 7 piece band The Selecter and had already written most of the songs that were to become major hits - notably the classics On My Radio, Missing Words, 3 Minute Hero and Too Much Pressure. Although The Selecter sadly disbanded in the early 80s, they played hundreds of legendary gigs in many countries establishing a reputation as one of the premier live acts of the time.
The demise of The Selecter was not planned!! But it happened and Neol put it behind him by setting up a home studio, writing more songs and playing gigs, earning a reputation as a top Blues guitarist and singer, until The Selecter reformed in 1991 to undertake a tour of the US, Japan and Europe. After the tours Neol felt ,along with many other things, that his songwriting needed a new platform with wider musical horizons and so he left the band.......and...........formed.........
.......a new 8 piece band, Selecter Instrumental, with four horns,(alto and tenor saxes, trombone and trumpet),a real Hammond C3 organ, masterfully played by Justin Dodsworth.This was assembled to play a set of Ska instrumentals (a mixture of classic covers and Neol’s arrangements of film themes and original compositions) and, although the band never recorded in the studio, all of the gigs were recorded and will be available as a live album soon on VoMatic Records.
Neol’s first album under his own name -Box of Blues,( released in 1999/2000) is a collection of original Blues songs and one instrumental, the sublime Paradise Re-visited,which finally brought Neol together with Horace Panter,aka. Sir Horace Gentleman, the original bass-ace from The Specials. A mutual love of guitar,bass,drums (and vocals)bands like Free and the Who led to the recording philosophy of the album, which was to keep it simple and raw, but with snappy arrangements learnt from the 2-Tone experience. With former Paul Weller and Dennis Greaves sidekick, Anthony Harty, defining a new style on the drums, Box of Blues was highly praised throughout the blues scene,both here and internationally, and the classic three-piece guitar, bass and drums line-up toured extensively as a result.
More recently, inspired live shows with the current line up(Daniel Crosby - drums and Justin Dodsworth - Hammond and Piano) ensured the backing to record a new album. Producer Martin Wright (co-producer of the new Ronnie Wood album) with Recording Engineer Simon “Spud” Beggs have brought some powerful contemporary influences to the production of
... Future Swamp ....
The new album has guest performances by new singer /rapper Sara J., Reef drummer Dominic Greensmith, David O’Brien,Jason Knight(Reef, Keys.), top blues-harp player Lee Sankey, and Ronnie Wood, who plays slide-guitar on the title track Future Swamp.
Both albums can be purchased from this new website by old fashioned post(cheque sending details -click on "buy" tab) or online retailers, click on the "buy" tab for links.
Both albums are on Neol's own VoMatic Records label, and Neol has also established his own fully equipped studio, audio-n studios, where Future Swamp was recorded and mixed. audio-n was set up to enable the production of Neol’s songs and instrumental projects along with re-mixing, 2inch.tape archiving facilities and songwriting collaborations. A lifetime of collecting and restoring recording /guitar /audio equipment has been augmented by an Apple G4 /Motu/ Pro-Tools /Logic computer system.Initial tracks are recorded onto a vintage 2inch 16 track all valve tape machine with a 1958 Slingerland drum kit , early 70’sVox AC30TB guitar amp and a Hammond C3 organ(with a Leslie 145) from the late 60’s. Bass gets on the tape after passing thru’ one of a pair ultra-rare TL Audio 2051 Voice Processors and then the tape tracks are transferred to the computer for over-dubs and editing. Monitoring is thru’ an Allen and Heath mixing desk and Tannoy/Quad speakers.
On the collaborative front, Neol has recorded an old-skool Ska track called "Come Of Age",co-written with legendary singer /pianist Floyd Lloyd, which is released on a compilation CD called Tropic New Wave, by New York based label Tropic Records.Go to tropicmusic.com to see their many other releases. The song has also been performedby Floyd Lloyd, with Ernest Ranglin on guitar (along with a host of other top Jamaican musicians) on his own CD, Believer, also on Tropic.
Recording at audio-n studios for Neol’s next album is well under way, and more Ska-hybrid is being tracked for another future VoMatic release.