Record of the Day: Neville Brothers, "Yellow Moon"

Record of the Day: Neville Brothers, “Yellow Moon”

Neville Brothers
Yellow Moon (CD A&M 395240-2)

Among the main standard bearers of New Orleans music, the Neville Brothers benefited greatly from their meeting with producer Daniel Lanois, already author of successful records for U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan and frequent collaborator of Brian Eno. The dark and mysterious sounds of Lanois' guitars, combined with his predilection for a sound rich in echoes and reverberations, might have seemed risky for the energetic and sunny musicality of the Neville brothers, but instead the marriage worked wonderfully and “Yellow Moon” achieved a success instantly becoming the best-selling album in the group's history.

In addition to Lanois and Eno, the brass of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band are present on the album as guests and galvanize the atmosphere in songs such as “Fire and Brimstone”, “Voodoo” and “Wild Injuns” characterized by magnificent interweavings of percussion on which the Tony Hall's bass flows riffs precise to the millimetre. The four Neville brothers, Aaron (vocals and keyboards), Art (keyboards), Charles (sax and percussion) and Cyril (percussion and backing vocals) are musicians of superior quality and mix the very different stylistic components of their music (ranging from soul to Cajun music, from jazz to funk to gospel) in a mixture that in the end can only bear their name on the label.

Very skilled composers (listen to “My Blood” and “Wake up”) are equally good at dealing with other people's songs, just listen to the beautiful versions of “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke and the two covers by Bob Dylan (“The Ballad of Hollis Brown” and “With God on Our Side”) to immediately realize it, but there is also an excellent “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that has nothing to envy of the Staples Singers.

Immediately enthralling and usable, the music of “Yellow Moon” manages to combine the typical sound of Lanois' productions with the warmth and vitality typical of Neville, without making any concessions to the pop taste prevailing in the charts when the album was released (in 1989 ). Perfect to be listened to both on the street and with the necessary concentration on the home system, the music of these great artists is able to interest an even wider audience than the one who has known it so far, especially in Italy; if you need some authentic energy try trusting them

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.