Ruf Records, 2013
By Phillip Smith; December 28, 2013
We all know moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone, and at Sixty-Five years of age, one will not find one gram of moss on Cyril Neville. Constantly recording and touring with either his own band, or as part of the super-group, Royal Southern Brotherhood with Devon Allman and Mike Zito, the man keeps on rolling. That being said, one can plan on settling down for a nice groovy listen when one reaches for the new Cyril Neville album, Magic Honey, and taps the play button. I love the way Neville adds his funky spin to the Blues to make his own fresh sound. Band members consist of guitarist Cranston Clements, drummer “Mean” Willie Green, bassist Carl Dufrene, and keyboardist Norman Caesar. Neville also enlists help from friends, Dr. John, Walter Trout, Mike Zito, Allen Toussaint, and David Z, Neville. With all of that going on, this album can’t help being anything but fun.
I was drawn in by the catchy melody and Clements swampy licks on the bluesy title track, “Magic Honey”. But by the time I got to “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”, I was totally captivated. With guest guitarist, David Z on board, this one emanates the sound and energy of Led Zeppelin. Crank up the volume on this one and enjoy.
It’s cool to hear Dr. John sitting in on and applying his trademark sound to “Swamp Funk”, a song he wrote himself. I find myself nodding my head and hitching a ride on this tasty groove every time I hear it, as it leans a little more to the side of team ‘funk’, as opposed to the side of team ‘swamp’. It’s also neat to hear Mike Zito playing on “Money and Oil”, a track co-written by Zito and Neville. Neville addresses the reality of the politics of today, as he rightfully sings ‘when it all comes down, it’s all about money and oil’.
The must-hear song on this album though, is “Working Man”. If it sounds like the title of a Rush song, that’s because it is. Instigating a proverbial double take at first, I realized this was an outstandingly cool cover after my neck snapped back to its rightful place. This one is surely more bouncy and playful than the original, but that’s what makes it memorable. I really like Neville’s smooth and vibrant vocals coupled with Clements killer guitar performance.
Really good from start to finish, one can’t go wrong picking this album up.