Neal Casal’s debut record, ‘Fade Away Diamond Time’, was released in 1995 to much critical acclaim. Produced by Jim Scott (Wilco, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash) and recorded with a stellar cast of players in a sprawling mansion in the hills of Santa Ynez, California, the album introduced the intimate songwriting and lyrical guitar work that would become the foundation of his career. Since that original release, the record has become a cult classic and will finally be re-issued for its 25th anniversary next month in Europe via the new reissue imprint Not Fade Away Recording Co.
Gary Waldman, Neal’s manager and long time friend said of the record: “Neal met record producer and recording engineer Jim Scott in 1992 and they started imagining the record that would become Fade Away Diamond Time. After signing with Zoo in late 1994, plans were made to record his debut album in March of 1995 at a pastoral Spanish-style mansion called Palacio Del Rio on 30 acres in Santa Ynez, CA.
Two fellow NJ musicians had become a huge part of Neal’s sound: John Ginty started playing organ and piano with Neal on shows and demo recordings in late 1991 and become his most valuable musical sidekick, subsequently playing on all of Neal’s solo albums. Angie McKenna grew up near Neal in New Jersey and became his favourite harmony singer, also appearing on most of his solo albums. Their voices blended together beautifully and the sound of Neal, John and Angie together was really the hallmark of his early solo years.
Neal had been a huge fan of Bob Glaub’s bass playing with Jackson Browne, so having Bob on bass for Fade Away was an honour. Neal first heard Don Heffington playing drums on Victoria Williams’ album Loose and soon discovered that Don had played with Lowell George, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and so many more, so he was thrilled to have Don on the album, too. Our friend from Woodstock, Fooch Fischetti, came out to play some awesome pedal steel guitar and Greg Leisz also played beautiful pedal steel solos on the songs ‘Bird In Hand’ and ‘Higher Ground’. We all lived at Palacio Del Rio for three beautiful weeks while recording the album and it was a truly magical recording experience.
‘Maybe California’ and ‘Free To Go’ are two of the defining songs on the record and encapsulate the sound Neal was pursuing at the time. ‘Feel No Pain’ is the song Neal regarded as his favorite from the album and one of the best songs he ever wrote. The anthem ‘Detroit Or Buffalo’ is a cover of a song by an artist named Barbara Keith, who made an amazing but obscure solo album in 1972. Neal found a vinyl copy of the album for $1 in a New Jersey thrift store and made his version of the song feel like his own. The album ending waltz ‘Sunday River’ is the perfect loping conclusion to what feels like a timeless debut album 25 years later.
Although it was not a huge commercial success upon release in September of 1995, ‘Fade Away Diamond Time’ has become a bit of a cult classic and will finally be re-issued on vinyl for its 25th anniversary in 2020.”
The album will be available on vinyl for the first time as well as deluxe CD-Book on October 23rd.
Excellent record, sad that too many times it takes death for geniuses to finally get recognition