One Good Neville Deserves Another
One from Art...
And one from Cyril!
Greetings all. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be able to meet my Monday payroll (as it were), since Blogger had been offline for most of the last 24 hours (if not longer). Fortunately it appears to have been restored (at least momentarily) so I’m going to try to get today’s selection posted up before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down again. I spent some quality time yesterday sifting through old stuff, new arrivals and a couple of gems I had put aside for just such an occasion, got it all recorded and scanned, and then remembered I had a few things already waiting in the wings. These records were so delicious, that I just had to get them posted before I moved on to bigger, better (read: newer) things. In the spirit of brevity (hand in hand with the spirit of coincidence) I figured that I could post them both at the same time, since, as they say in New Orleans: “one good Neville deserves another”. Those that stop by this space regularly know that the sounds of New Orleans have a large, warm and welcoming space reserved in my heart – causing me to wax poetic about them on a semi-regular basis. The two records I’m posting today are – as I hinted above – both Neville-related, one having the extra-special bonus of being an Eddie Bo composition/production. That record, Art Neville’s ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ is a lively mid-60’s soul banger , with an outstanding horn chart and a great four-on-the-floor beat. As far as I know the recording of this record pre-dates the formation of the Neville Sounds (the band that would become the Meters), so I’m guessing that the backing band is likely a studio aggregation. ‘Hook Like and Sinker’ (not the same tune recorded by Betty Harris a few years later) is a great slice of pop soul, and typical of the kind of quality record that was coming out in the Instant label’s post-R&B soul and funk era, especially in the fact that outside of New Orleans it was all but ignored (a fate that befell lots and lots of quality Crescent City records of that era). While Art’s vocals may not have been as distinctive as his brother Aaron’s (though there are similarities), he was abetter than average singer (having waxed sides for Specialty and Cinderella). The second 45 we have for you today hails from about five years further down the pike, well inside the city limits of Funk-ville. Cyril Neville, the youngest of the famous brothers, had been a member of the pre-Meters Neville Sounds. When Art Neville, Zigaboo Modeliste, George Porter and Leo Nocentelli broke off and formed the Meters, Cyril and Aaron Neville went on to for the Soul Machine (a band that sadly never recorded). By the time Cyril finally had the chance to record under his own name, it was 1970 and he found himself in a Georgia studio with Allen Toussaint and the Meters*. The resulting sides, ‘Gossip’ and ‘Tell Me What’s On Your Mind’ were both heaters. Prior to a few years ago, ‘Gossip’ was unkown to me. I had ‘Tell me What’s On Your Mind’ on a comp – and dug it – but that tune, a smooth, soulful number didn’t prepare me for the power of ‘Gossip’. I started to see the tune mentioned on several sale-lists (and Ebay listings...ugh) and finally grabbed my own copy a while later. The tune opens with a throbbing rhythm section, and then, when you least expect it, Mr. Nocentelli (who also penned the tune) drops by with and electric sitar, starting off the whole affair with a touch of funky psych-out. When the full band (and horns) drop in, the sound of the Meters in unmistakable. Cyril’s vocal is right on the money, sounding like a slightly tougher version of Art, dropping the ‘FONKY’s right and left like they were going out of style (which thankfully they were not). The record is super-tight, red hot and worthy of the elevated prices it was (and is) fetching. The fact that it has such an excellent b-side should only serve as extra incentive to score your own copy. Cyril went on to join the Meters a few years later, as well as spearhead the formation of the Wild Tchoupitoulas. Since the 70’s he has been a fixture of the Neville Brothers, as well as recording his own bands, and as a solo artist. ‘Gossip’ has appeared on reissues (currently a Jazzman 45 reissue flipped with brother Aaron’s sought after ‘Hercules’). I can’t say for sure if ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ is currently available. I know there’s a UK 3CD compilation of Minit/Instant material, but I have not been able to find a track listing.
*I believe that this is a different session than the one that produced Eldridge Holmes mighty 'Pop Popcorn Children'.