Blues Bytes


October / November 2018

Cyril Neville
 Endangered Species: The Essential Recordings
World Order Entertainment

Cyril NevilleOne of my favorite bands of the past 30 years has been the Neville Brothers. Their music took in blues, soul, funk, R&B, world, and pop influences and mixed it into an earthy Louisiana musical gumbo that was absolutely irresistible to their many fans. Quite honestly, there was no other group quite like the Neville Brothers during their heyday and even after they sadly retired as a group a couple of years ago. Saxophonist Charles passed away earlier this year, but the remaining brothers continue to make music in a variety of settings.

The youngest brother, Cyril Neville, has enjoyed success as a Neville Brother, as a member of The Meters and Royal Southern Brotherhood, and as a solo artist. The vocalist/percussionist, songwriter released several albums on the Endangered Species record label over a ten-year period between 1994 and 2004. He recently reissued them in a five-CD retrospective, Endangered Species: The Complete Recordings, on his son Omari’s World Order Entertainment label, but also collected 11 of those tracks to provide a marvelous sampler of the set, Endangered Species: The Essential Recordings.

Neville served as one of the primary songwriters for the Neville Brothers, so it only makes sense that many of these selections have a similar quality to that band’s catalog. He’s always had a penchant for political and environmental causes, and those areas are covered within these tracks with compelling songs like the rumbling funk workout “Love Has Got To Win,” which, along with “The Road To Unity,” and “Can’t Stop A Dreamer” (which includes passages from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech) address the need for civility in all walks of life. The buoyant “Ayiti” and the soulful “Calling All Souls” address environmental issues.

The other winning aspect of the Neville sound has always been the irresistible mix of blues, soul, and funk and that quality is here as well with tracks like the outstanding “Second Line Soca,” which Neville introduces with an explanation of the second line parades that often accompany funeral, the incredible “New Orleans Cookin’,” which was co-written by the late Allen Toussaint and would have fit into the ’60s heyday of New Orleans R&B like a glove, the aptly entitled “Funkaliscious,” and the entertaining tribute “More Professor Longhair,” one of three songs on the set from Neville and The Uptown All-Stars.

The stirring “Lift Every Voice And Sing” is a moving version of the James Weldon Johnson standard and features Neville’s wife, Gaynielle, along with Dane Wilson and Yodonna Wise. Happily, the Neville music tradition continues into the next generation as well. The rousing “Running With The Secondline” features Cyril Neville Jr, Aaron Neville Jr, and Damion Neville (son of Charmaine, grandson of Charles) and puts the listener right in the middle of a New Orleans street parade.

I’ve been a big fan of Cyril Neville for many years. His approach to music has always been daring and unafraid. There was no topic that he was hesitant to address, he’s always been one of the finest, most underrated soulful singers around, and he has an amazing ability to embrace both the old school and the modern with his musical approach. Endangered Species: The Essential Records is a wonderful sample of his musical talents.

--- Graham Clarke



[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: November 17,. 2018 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2018, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.