"Neil is an easy guy to get on with and he's got a lot of talent and initiative. He's a key member of the band for sure..."
Two and a half years have now passed since Neil 'Rambo' Carter first pitched his tent in the Gary Moore camp...which I guess earns him the title of 'elder statesman' (sorry, Neil, but somebody's got to have it). Co-writer of 'Empty Rooms' and 'All Messed Up' - both to be found on the new 'Run For Cover' LP - his role from the moment he enlisted has been an active one, handling keyboard and rhythm guitar duties and grabbing the vocal standard whenever his freshly uniformed commander breaks ranks and heads off on a charge.
His dress sense may be a little on the questionable side of dodgy, causing Gary to consider adding sunglasses to his own list of stage attire, but in studio or on stage the freshly dubbed 'Rambo' (or 'Kipper 2' to Pete Way) knows what he's about...which, with all due respect (or lack of it), is more than can be said for some of the previous outfits he's played with.
UFO, Wild Horses...names to set liver a-tremble, you know the score, not forgetting Gilbert O'Sullivan, of course, who he toured with unashamedly throughout the UK and Ireland. Yeah, yeah, I know, but he was young at the time (certainly no elder statesman!), part of Dorking-based outfit called Wilder, in fact, a semi-professional troupe who suddenly found themselves under hot lights and massed gaze backing a rather unlikely looking teen idol on some of the best known hits of the day. Here, quite possibly, Neil's sartorial sensibilities underwent their first serious bashing...
For some this would have been a once-in-a-lifetime leap, a dream come true, and wild horses wouldn't have dragged them away, but in Carter's case, of course, that's exactly what did happen. From the sedate world of piano playing pop stars he suddenly took a high an' heavy dive into the (under) world of rock 'n' roll, linking up with such Wild Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Brian Robertson (guitar) and Jimmy Bain (bass) in what he now describes as a "Baptism by fire", a bareback ride over Beechers. A whole crosssection of new experiences were suddenly there before him for the taking, some good, some a little dodgy and some simply impossible to recall.
Whilst a member of Wild Horse, Neil took the charge of certain lead guitar parts and generally grew up a lot very quickly, ambition and aspiration easily keeping pace. Eventually, however, he saw the "red warning light" and knew it was time to jump ship, grabbing the nearest available lifeline and swinging onto a craft of unidentified status, again plunging straight in at the deep end. Indeed, one of his earliestappearances with UFO (for it was they) was at the prestigious Reading festival, and his first album with the band, "The Wind, The Willing & The Innocent", was certainly one of their best releases ever, but after that, well...to tell the truth, it was pretty much downhill all the way with only "Making Contact", the last studio album offering from the group, acting as a temporary light in the gloom.
With the arrival of the disappointing "Mechanix" LP, spirits had begun to sink slowly in the West (and all other available areas) and internal disputes to look a good deal more serious than usual; it wasn't just old 'chin, nose and neck' jokes anymore, oh no, and after a disastrous tour of Europe and the UK with only Neil looking at all interested in what was going down (all too often vocalist Phil Mogg), it was decided to call it a day, though the latter of course hsa since picked up the UFO name...
For a while, Neil teamed up with former UFO colleagues Paul Chapman (guitar) and Andy Parker (drums) in an attempt to salvage something from the mess that the once mighty band had sadly become. They laid down half-a-dozen new songs (which is where the riff to 'Murder In The Skies' on the 'Victims Of The Future' LP first saw the light of day, incidentally), but with the alliance not exactly shifting the world on it's axis the vesatile Carter decided to head off on a tour of the States with Gary and...well, he's been with the genial, though-looking Irishman ever since, a stable element in a line-up prone to change.
He's constantly coming up with fresh material (the bud that eventually blossomed into 'Empty Rooms' is something he's worn in his button-hole since the UFO era), some of it quite heavy, some quite commercial, and Gary wouldn't be at all surprised if one of these days the small man from the south found himself in the charts with a nationwide hit on his hands. We shall see.
Nothing lasts indefinitely, of course, and Neil I'm sure is more aware of that than many, but for the moment he's happy to continue where he is, playing alongside a "true professional ", a reliable personality, who doesn't let himself down". The respect, rest assured, is mutual.