Cyril Neville: Brand New Blues (MC Records)

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Cyril Neville: Brand New Blues
Cyril Neville: Brand New Blues (MC Records)

As with the Marleys (Bob, Rita, Damian, Ziggy et al), we are hardly short of Nevilles in the world: there are the original Neville Brothers and their offspring (notably Ivan) as well as others in the extended family (Charmaine).

Here Cyril, the 61-year old Brother and co-founder of the classic pre-Nevilles band The Meters, delivers a winning blend of soulful blues in which he gets the family assistance you might expect from Art, Ivan and Ian, and also guitarist Tab Benoit. But mostly this is producer Brian J's show who plays guitars, drums, keyboards and percussion.

And yet it is singer Cyril who towers as a achingly soulful and earthy blues singer on material which references the long tradition, borrows readily from Jimmy Reed, BB King and the likes of Johnny Guitar Watson, but also keeps a Southern/New Orleans funk quality to the fore in songs which have an almost instant appeal, but are also of some depth.

He's also very much in tune with the times and his nine minute version of Bob Marley's Slave Driver at the end is an absolute standout in this quality company: he brings a deeply sad tone to the lyrics which turn to his post-Katrina hometown and reflect on the misery still there, despite the positive spin put out in publicity.

"And now they say the city's back to the way it used to be, but I think that's just a heap of hypocrisy . . . take a ride across the G-NO and look back across, you'll see half of the city is still in the dark . . ." 

These songs may be blues by the broadest definition, but whether it be the funky I Found Joy, the sprightly Cream Them Beans, the roadhouse sound of Shake Your Gumbo or that remarkable Slave Driver, these are indeed brand new blues.

And that Neville Brothers funk-soul heart still beats within. 

 

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