Cyril Neville

The Essential Cyril Neville 1994-2007

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Being the youngest of the Neville Brothers would never prevent Cyril Neville from being the person he is, carrying on in the tradition of his more famous siblings. In fact, he not only embellishes on the historic New Orleans sound, he adds a little spice, psychedelic rock & roll, and deep blues. Cyril Neville may be a less rough-edged singer than his elders, not to the extent of senior Aaron Neville, but he is more instrumentally inclined as he dishes out roots/party-style piano on this feel-good compilation from his small discography for the M.C. label. Of course there are many gems, like the finger-poppin' bass-driven tribute to Professor Longhair, "Tipitina"; the pure pop "New Orleans Cookin'"; and the famous "Fortune Teller," a live ballad talking about "heroes and sheroes," penned by Naomi Neville, the alias of Allen Toussaint. A hard funk version of "Foxy Lady" scorches the earth instrumentally, but Neville takes it much slower vocally, while Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is done as a gospel soul tune. The remainder of the material is typical Neville, ranging from Latin plus funk to shuffle, a Native American Indian tribute, choral, commercial dance music à la disco, and even multi-layered rap ("Projects") and smooth jazz before the disc ends. The first number, "The Blues Is Here to Stay," might throw you off in its individual get-down blues, a lyric reference to Elmore James, and Taj Mahal's cameo appearance on harmonica. Certainly Cyril Neville has his pick of the litter as sidemen, including Toussaint, the Soul Rebels Brass Band, Marva Wright, Big Chief Iron Horse, saxophonist Tim Green, and no less than six fellow Nevilles. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better short stack of recognizable numbers or surprises from this first family of Crescent City icons, led by the least-known but well-reared one of the bunch.

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