Dean Carter is the ultimate rock’n’roll anomaly. Just check out the picture on the front cover: a wild-eyed madman throwing a Presley-like stance, guitar by his side, with a sweptback do, and zebra-striped jacket to die for. The ultimate in rockin’ cool. Must be late 1950s, right? Uh-uh. How does 1968 grab ya?
Known by his real name, Arlie Neaville, in the earlier part of his career, Carter’s base for most of the 1950s and 1960s was the midwestern town ofChampaign,Illinois. His first significant combo was the Rock N Roll Devils, where he ran into fellow rock enthusiast Arlie Miller. In the early 1960s Neaville recorded for Ping, Fraternity and Limelight, but none of these releases hint at the wild rock persona he presented on stage.
Miller and Neaville – the latter by now officially Dean Carter – teamed up on a permanent basis in 1963, forming the Lucky Ones. The pair invested in their own home studio, dubbed Midnite Sound. Demonstrating a natural aptitude for recording and with a particular sound in his head, Miller became the engineer, and the band began to hold regular sessions from 1964 onwards.
There was a glut of sessions in late 1966 and early 1967 that produced a batch of pumped-up, crazed material, a handful of which escaped on Miller’s Milky Way label. ‘Run Rabbit Run’ was a bizarrely constructed yet insanely catchy dance tune, while ‘Rebel Woman’ parlayed a dark, brooding brand of garage rock. The flip to ‘Rebel Woman’ is possibly one of the finest examples of pure rock intensity ever committed to wax. When Miller suggested a cover of ‘Jailhouse Rock’, it was with the concept that it should sound like a riot really was going on. Elsewhere, the violent sound was only slightly toned down for stomping cuts such as ‘Black Boots’ and ‘Sizzlin’ Hot’.
In late 1967 Carter ended up in Washington State, falling in with Gene Vincent’s guitar slinging sidekick Jerry Merritt. Two singles were the result, released on Merritt’s Tell International label in 1968. With its barnstorming beat, ‘Mary Sue’ is a glorious noise and the obvious sequel to ‘Jailhouse Rock’. Left in the can was a bona fide classic in ‘Call Of The Wild’. Carter returned to the midwest and recording with Miller, experimenting with more overtly country/folk influences, although he continued to rock out with dynamite tracks such as ‘Don’t Try To Change Me’ and ‘Dobro Pickin’ Man’.
Arlie Neaville today preaches, sings gospel music and apparently has little time for his rock’n’roll past. But his alter-ego lives on, captured expertly by his friend Arlie Miller in the wild, unbridled sounds on those rare Milky Way singles and now this compilation.