Unless you yourself are perfect, I suspect you’ve heard the phrase the perfect is the enemy of the good.
My variation on that would be searching for a masterpiece will distract you from a lot of excellent music.
Sometimes I just don’t appreciate the situation I’m in. Here I am searching for great music, and end up disappointed if it’s only really good.
I’m getting older (that means “closer to death” kiddies) so I want every record to “count”, whatever that means.
Maybe that I’m humming it all day at work, that it jumps into my head and takes over randomly (not good while driving, by the way). That it makes me feel good about being alive. That it changes my life. Don’t laugh. It’s happened.
So I aim high, get overly ambitious because I don’t stay in my comfort zone, and get disappointed, at least at first.
I end up putting too many really good records aside, only to have to them creep back up on me to convince me how good they really are.
And it happened again.
And I feel bad about it because I’m sure the Neville Brothers have been worried about how I’d react to this album. Which came out about thirty years ago. You can rest easy now guys!
The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon
The last time I’d gotten a record by the Neville Brothers, they were hiding amongst The Wild Thcoupitoulas, playing quintessential - earthy, tuneful rhythmic - New Orleans music.
Flash forward a decade or so, and they’re being produced by Daniel Lanois (U2 before to this, and the Dylan resurgence afterwards) I was fearing that this might go a little too atmospheric, which would not be a good fit at all.
No need to worry, though. They manage to keep things down to earth for most of the way through,
One way was to do some heavy duty cover songs,
I typically don’t like artists doing covers. It can distract you from what is unique about the artist, and it can be a cheap shortcut to actually writing your own material.
And it can be a bad idea in the very practical sense . I mean, how often do you hear a cover and say, “Hey, That’s Even better than the original!”. And it doesn’t happen here, either. But they come close enough.
While “With God on Our Side” goes on a bit too long, they do stirring versions of “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (but really how do you f*ck those up?). And there’s a pretty haunting version of “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”.
It helps when the singing and playing are spot on.
And how about their originals? Just fine! Not too generic. Topical. And well produced. "My Blood" being my favorite.
So there’s an excellent balance of elements here. Nothing brilliant, mind you, but overall the songs, playing, singing and production come together enough to let this one rise above mere genre.
When you put this one on you know you’re going to enjoy the next hour.