AARON NEVILLE / ‘Aaron Neville Mixtape”
New Orleans time. Aaron Neville is the third oldest of the four famous Neville Brothers (In order of birth: Art, Charles, Aaron and Cyril). At some point we will undoubtedly get around to a feature on the Neville Brothers, however this week the focus is on one of the greatest vocalist of all time: Aaron Neville born January 24, 1941 in New Orleans.
In 1966 early on in his career he was blessed with a number one national hit: “Tell It Like It Is.” Simultaneously, he was cursed with a record company that went bankrupt before he could receive his just remunerations. Hey, but that’s the way it is in America’s music industry: an early and surprising rapid rise to fame can end up as a major downer. Although Aaron kept plugging away, he would have to wait almost a quarter century later in 1989 before he hit the national charts again with duets with Linda Ronstadt.
All up in that was the touring success of The Neville Brothers, which kept Aaron and his brothers going in the music business. Then came Katrina in 2005 and forced semi-retirement. Except, of course, there is no quit in Aaron’s catalogue of life struggles. At 69, well past the age of retirement Aaron has gifted us with I Know I’ve Been Changed, a significant new album of gospel-based music.
Trivia note: as well as he sings gospel in an old style, the average listener would never guess that Aaron Neville was reared and remains a confirmed Catholic. Which brings us to the paradox of a muscle man who has endured his share of personal conflicts and even served time in the joint, how likely is it that such a man would literally sing like an angel, including an unearthly falsetto gracing a special gift for ballads and religious songs?
I have written my appreciation of Aaron on BoL (go here) but let me end with a note from Aaron responding to a question about his idiosyncratic style of singing.
"That style is rooted in the doo wop of the fifties-- the Moonlgows, the Flamingos, the Clovers and a close friend, Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels. But I was also deep into the gospel groups, the Pilgrim Travelers, the Brooklyn All-Stars and The Blind Boys of Alabama. And then there were those yodeling cowboys. I loved them."The Aaron Neville Mixtape covers the full range of Aaron’s career beginning with “Tell It Like It Is” and concluding with a brace of gospel selections from his new album. Never underestimate the staying power of a man who won’t give up; a man who looks one way and sounds another, an angel’s voice in a weight lifter’s body.
He is one of the finest interpreters of a wide swath of American music you’ll ever be blessed to experience. Aaron Neville, an unforgettable and ultimately unmatchable musical voice.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Aaron Neville Mixtape Playlist
01 “Tell It Like It Is”
02 “Over You”
03 “Let's Live”
05 “Angola Bound”
06 “Mickey Mouse March” - Orchid In the Storm
07 “Louisiana 1927”
08 “Betcha By Golly, Wow”
09 “Use Me”
10 “Everybody Plays The Fool”
11 “Let's Stay Together (Featuring Chaka Khan)” - Bring It On Home... The Soul Classics
Orchid In the Storm
12 “The Ten Commandments of Love”
13 “Mona Lisa”
14 “Stardust (Duet With Rob Wasserman)” - Gold
15 “Arianne” - Ultimate Collection
Nature Boy: The Standards Album
16 “Blame It On My Youth”
17 “Since I Fell For You”
18 “Come Rain Or Come Shine”
I Know I've Been Changed
20 “I Know I've Been Changed”
21 “I Done Made Up My Mind”
22 “Stand By Me”
23 “Live So God Can Use Me”
24 “There's A God Somewhere”
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