The Brothers

Art Neville, Author, Aaron, Author, Charles, Author Little Brown and Company $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-73009-9
This oral history by the members of the Neville Brothers, currently New Orleans's most popular and well-known funk/R&B/rock band, is a must-read for fans and hardcore students of New Orleans music. Coauthor David Ritz, whose critically acclaimed biographies of Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin have established him as an insightful chronicler of difficult musical personalities, here lets each of the four Neville Brothers display ""his voice, his musical personality, and his own story."" While the brothers' lives and experiences often overlap--especially when discussing the New Orleans of their youth, their various drug addictions and their run-ins with women, the law and all types of unscrupulous characters from the fringes of the music business--the book achieves Ritz's goal of capturing each brother's cadences and ""distinct grooves."" Art, the oldest, is a natural archivist of New Orleans musical culture. Charles, who spent some time in Mississippi's infamous Angola jail, captures the impact of ""the hierarchy of skin color"" in New Orleans, New York and Los Angeles. Aaron, whose recording of ""Tell It Like It Is"" immediately placed him in the pantheon of classic New Orleans singers, is the most sensitive to how their music has changed as the brothers pursued individual, then combined, careers. Cyril, the youngest, is the most articulate about newer political and musical influences on New Orleans. ""In Their Own Words""-style biographies have been a staple of music books, usually quickly churned out to meet demands of current fans of disposable pop music, but, while it suffers from some repetition, this volume captures the fascinating lives of crucial players in the New Orleans tradition with candor and style. 16 pages of photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-306-81053-4
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