Magic Honey Cyril Neville
- 1Magic Honey05:14
- 2Swamp Funk04:33
- 3Somethings Got A Hold On Me05:12
- 4Still Going Down Today04:55
- 5You Can Run But You Can't Hide03:20
- 6Another Man04:58
- 8Blues Is The Truth04:17
- 9Running Water04:04
- 10Working Man 04:58
- 11Money And Oil04:00
- 12Slow Motion04:15
Info for Magic Honey
Most artists make albums. Cyril Neville makes gumbos. Served up in September 2013 on Ruf Records, Magic Honey finds the 64-year-old Southern icon on anarchic form, snatching inspiration from a kaleidoscope of sources and shaking up a sonic cocktail where anything goes. “I’m extremely proud of this record,” notes Cyril of his latest signature dish. “It’s a tasteful, well-cooked musical gumbo that I think will be pleasing to the palates of music lovers.”
Singer. Poet. Percussionist. Neville Brother, Meters legend, solo star and talisman of the South’s all-conquering new supergroup, Royal Southern Brotherhood. Just as Cyril Neville’s career path keeps you guessing, so Magic Honey defies expectations and breaks out of any pigeonhole you try to place around it. One foot may often be planted in the traditions of his beloved blues on these twelve new songs – take the raw emotion on Something’s Got A Hold On Me or the slow-burning Blues Is The Truth – but the other is striding out and kicking the rulebook into touch.
There’s the spring-heeled, funk-flavoured strut of Running Water, the snare-cracking groove of Invisible and the stinging title track (“My baby is a queen bee… magic honey dripping from her hive”). There’s the amped-up satirical sideswipe of Money and Oil (“Don’t matter how you feel, it’s all sell, sell, sell”) and the album’s most overtly rock-out moment, Working Man (“Got no time for living, ’cos I’m working all the time…”). By the time you reach the silver-tongued reggae lilt of Slow Motion and the irresistible dancefloor-filler that is Swamp Funk, you’ll be reminded that Cyril is a songwriter who combines a clear artistic vision with a wandering eye.
Magic Honey is the kind of genre-slipping statement that’s only possible when you’ve got a crack musical squad pulling together, and as Cyril began putting the heat under this gumbo at Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana, he was flanked by plenty of capable cooks. On production, David Z lived up to his mighty reputation – earned alongside Prince, Buddy Guy, Etta James and more – creating an organic sound on Magic Honey that pulsed and breathed. “I waited a long time to work with David Z,” says Cyril of the partnership, “and I feel the wait was well worth it. I love how the record turned out and look forward to working with him again, soon.” Out on the floor, meanwhile, a bedrock of first-call musicians locked into a musical telepathy that meant the LA sessions felt less like a dry box-ticking exercise and more like a group epiphany. “Making this record was a spiritual, musical event,” agrees Cyril. “The musicians and I approached it like it was an important gig we were playing. All the tracks are first takes. The atmosphere was just that electric. All the way live! And I was blessed with the best rhythm section for the occasion in ‘Mean’ Willie Green (drums), Cranston Clements (guitar), Carl Dufrene (bass) and Norman Caesar (keys).”
Along with a dash of Neville family DNA – courtesy of Gaynielle Neville and Omari Neville on soaring backup vocals – there’s also a sprinkle of celebrity stardust, with New Orleans veteran Allen Toussaint handling the keys on the cuckolded shuffle of Another Man, Dr. John on organ for Swamp Funk, ex-Bluesbreakers’ axeman Walter Trout boiling up Running Water and Cyril’s Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate Mike Zito lending muscular riffing to Money and Oil and Working Man.
It’s one hell of a guest-list, and only serves to underline the respect and pulling-power that Cyril Neville has amassed during his four-plus decades in the industry. Music legends don’t keep CVs, but if they did, Cyril’s would land with a thump. Born in late-’40s New Orleans, Louisiana, as the youngest of the four siblings who would soon define that city’s R&B sound as The Neville Brothers, Cyril absorbed his parents’ vinyl collection and found his own voice when he turned professional at 19. His first gig was with Art Neville and the Neville Sounds (alongside elder brothers Art and Aaron), and though his subsequent splinter-group Soul Machine never quite achieved the heights it was due, Cyril was on fire, pricking up ears with 1970’s debut solo single, Gossip, then arriving in the lineup of Art’s funk outfit, The Meters.
By that point, The Meters were already flying off the back of 1969’s smash-hit Cissy Strut. Now, Cyril brought congas and vocals to timeless albums including 1972’s Cabbage Alley and 1975’s Fire On The Bayou, and when unabashed über-fan Mick Jagger invited The Meters to open up the Rolling Stones’ US stadium tour of 1974, Art’s suggestion that Cyril take lead vocals was vindicated by a series of roof-raising performances.
The Meters were too special to last, but the lineup’s dissolution in 1976 cleared the path for the bloodline to regroup as The Neville Brothers and start a four-decade hot-streak – from 1976’s Wild Tchoupitoulas, via 1989’s Grammy-winning Yellow Moon, to 2004’s Walkin’ In The Shadows Of Life – that continues to this day. Suffice to say, when critics refer to this band as New Orleans’ first family of funk, it’s not hot air or hyperbole, but a statement of fact.
Lesser artists might be content to sit back and watch the royalties roll in. Cyril, by contrast, remains creatively insatiable. He not only maintains a thrilling solo career that’s given us classics like 1994’s The Fire This Time and 2000’s New Orleans Cookin’, but has also collaborated with icons including Bob Dylan, Bono and Willie Nelson, toured the world with funk act Galactic, led his offshoot band Tribe 13, founded his own record label Endangered Species and made TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and HBO’s Treme.
An artist with a conscience, Cyril has also spread good karma, both through the New Orleans Musicians Organized (NOMO) project that helps fledgling bands navigate the shark-infested waters of the rock industry, and alongside Tab Benoit on the 2005 Voice of the Wetlands Allstars tour that raised the profile of the Louisiana Gulf Coast’s environmental plight.
“Oh, Cyril is quite the character,” says Mike Zito of his bandmate’s sprawling backstory. “I mean, he’s the guy. He’s got all the stories. He’s been around the world a million times, played with everybody and their brother. He’s toured with the Rolling Stones, he’s friends with Keith Richards, he’s written songs with Bono. He’s done everything anybody could ever do...”
Not quite. In September 2013, with no sign of his stride slowing down, Cyril Neville puts yet another cherry on top of his astonishing career with Magic Honey. It’s the gumbo you’ve been waiting for.
Cyril Neville, vocals, percussion
"Mean" Willie Green, drums
Cranston Clements, guitar
Carl Dufrene, bass
Norman Caesar, keyboards
Gaynielle Neville, background vocals
Omari Neville, background vocals
Allen Toussaint, keyboards (Track 4)
Dr. John, organ (Track 2)
Walter Trout, guitar (Track 9)
Mike Zito, guitar (Tracks 10, 11)
maybe the last great voice of New Orleans music. One of the four Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville was the youngest, born on January 10, 1948, in New Orleans, LA. Cyril picked up his love of music from his parents and his older brothers at an early age, but it wasn't until 1967 (at the age of 19) that Cyril began singing professionally, as he united with brothers Art and Aaron in the outfit Art Neville and the Neville Sounds, playing the New Orleans club circuit on a regular basis. Cyril and Aaron eventually left the group, forming another outfit, Soul Machine, shortly thereafter. 1970 saw the release of Cyril's debut solo single, "Gossip" b/w "Tell Me What's On Your Mind," which included backing music by brother Art's new outfit, the Meters. Soul Machine relocated to Nashville, then New York, but both moves failed to help put the group over the top. It just so happened at this time that the Meters were looking to expand their lineup, and asked Cyril to join in on vocals and congas, contributing to such albums as 1972's Cabbage Alley and 1975's Fire on the Bayou, In 74, the Rolling Stones offered The Meters a support slot on the bands sold out tour if they would hire Cyril Neville to sing and front the band. His work as a human rights advocate does not stray far from his art. The joys as well as the complications and frustrations of growing up in the oppressed South can be heard through-out his catalog as a solo Artist as well as his work with his brothers – The Neville Brothers.
Just as the Meters splintered in 1976, Cyril became enraptured with reggae music (thanks to Bob Marley's landmark Natty Dread album), as all four Neville siblings formed the Neville Brothers group, issuing numerous subsequent recordings. In addition to his work with the Neville Brothers, Cyril has formed other bands over the years, including the Endangered Species Band in 1983 and the Uptown Allstars Band, while he also found time to launch his own record label, Endangered Species. Cyril also founded the New Orleans Musicians Organized (NOMO), which helps musicians who need business advice with their careers. Cyril Neville has issued several solo albums on his own over the years, including 1995's The Fire This Time, and a pair in 2000, New Orleans Cookin' and Soulo. Plus he has guested on various other artist's recordings over the years, including albums by Edie Brickell, Jimmy Buffett, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson, Tab Benoit, and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux among others.
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