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The American

Cyril Neville C

yril Neville has played a variety of musical styles down the years with The Meters, The Neville Brothers, The Uptown Allstars, and, right now, Royal Southern Brotherhood with whom he is currently on tour. Those styles – and more – are condensed in his solo album Magic Honey. Our online album review says it is “very tasty”. Why the food reference? Read on.

Magic Honey: The Album

“I tried to make a music gumbo that would satisfy music lovers everywhere. It has on it people and a producer [David Z] I wanted to work with for a long time. It is sonically one of the best records I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with. “I held up the session until I had ‘Mean’ Willie Green from the Uptown Allstars on drums. He’s a really good friend and he was with the Neville Brothers longer than any other musician. Cranston Clements is one of the best guitarists we’ve ever produced, though not that well known. He put together the stuff that needed to be done and he was the guy. “Everything is like a gumbo for me, get the rules of the gumbo right, add the extra ingredients – Allen Toussaint, Walter Trout, Mike Zito, etc. My wife Gaynielle, who has her own Sweet Soul band, and my son Omari were background singers and the majority of our stuff was original. “Omari, and his band Rejected Youth Nation, rehearsed a song by Rush called ‘Working Man’ and he told me, ‘It’s not us, it’s you’. My first

24 November 2013

reaction was, ‘I can’t sing that high!’, but the arrangement Omari had put together fit me. Passing down music father to son was taken to another level as he turned me on to it. “I put my heart and soul into every track of the record. I wanted it to be a throwback to growing up in New Orleans and to be futuristic at the same time. Everybody in our house and in the neighbourhood was musically inclined. Growing up, I listened to the radio a lot, in the kitchen watching the cooking going on, a reason why, on listening to the record, I make references to gumbo. I’m 65 years old and I’ll throw every brick I have on this. “There are double and triple entendre songs! I wanted to make music like my mom and aunts would dance to and that was the Blues. Blues and Gospel are the same thing, they move the soul. Blues is the gospel of the common man. I learnt the history of my family and my people from music. There’s R ‘n’ B and even a bit of Reggae in there. “‘Invisible’ is kind of rockish. ‘Magic Honey’ has a Chicago sound. One particular slow Blues is by the Gayle Bros., ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’. The band just took off on that one, from Blues to AC/DC and back to Blues, it was a joy to watch. “The title song was the last one. I didn’t have a lyric, but I walked in the woods thinking and it came into my head. It is about my wife, my greatest inspiration and love, who kept me alive. “I play percussion, bongos and

Darren Weale interviews New Orlean’s philosophersoulman conga drums. Drums? Mean Willie Green doesn’t need no help in that department. You don’t have to explain much, we have a coded New Orleans language that no one else can understand. It’s not about the notes you play, its about the notes you don’t play, where the spaces are. We approached the recording like a fun gig, every track was live, a first take. In two and a half days the gumbo was cooked. Stuff was supposed to be faded out, but Danny Z called me and said, ‘I can’t bring myself to fade it out.’ I said, ‘Hey man, leave it on that.’ He let the musicians have their way.

Royal Southern Brotherhood

“Royal Southern Brotherhood is a great blessing in my life, I was the youngest Neville brother, and now I’m the oldest guy! People are getting it as a group, but nothing is diluted and none of our individuality is compromised. We do our solo stuff too. One price for four or five bands on stage at one time! “The public reaction to Royal Southern Brotherhood is overwhelming. In some aspects it has been a long time coming, it’s like being born again. Really young kids want me to sign my new record. One had a copy of my first ever record, that’s over thirty years old, it was joyful news to them. A sign from the Great Spirit that you deserve this. A reward for all the hard work for all these years. I’m with young, energetic, powerful musicians, a good place to be at 65.

The American Issue 727 November 2013  

The American has been published for Americans in Britain since 1976. It's also for Brits who like American culture.

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