Review: Cyril Neville – Magic Honey

Posted on: Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013


Cyril Neville – Magic Honey

(Ruf Records: RUF 1192)

Hard on the heels of solo releases from fellow Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmates Mike Zito and Devon Allman, comes “Magic Honey” from New Orleans icon Cyril Neville – the percussionist and singer who has a spectacular CV as part of the legendary Neville Brothers and also, The Meters.

At 64, a first album of Ruf Records, produced by David Z at Studio In The Country, Bogalusa, Louisiana, is a rather more rocky and muscular affair than may have been expected, with apart from the man himself, a core band of Cranston Clements (guitar), “Mean” Willie Green (drums), Carl Dufrene (bass) and Norman Caesar (keyboards). A heavyweight guest list includes two of the Crescent City’s true legends in Dr John and Allen Toussaint, together with guest guitarists Mike Zito, producer David Z and blues rocker Walter Trout.

As previously noted this is a tough album, but that is not to say the grooves and rhythms of the South are neglected at all, the music kicking off with the title cut, “Magic Honey”, a funky strut with nice guitar work and Neville’s soulful vocal, and some tasty uncredited harmonica work. The following “Swamp Funk” is just that – penned by Dr John, with him and Allen Toussaint helping out on organ and piano respectively.

The blues of “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” starts with a rousing guitar salvo, and it rides on a riff that gives it somewhat of a Jimi Hendrix playing the blues feel, and very nice it is too; as is the funky treatment of the Paul Butterfield/Henry Glover song, “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide”, with more impressive guitar from Cranston Clements and the band cooking along nicely. The Warren Haynes song “Invisible” rides on another fine groove, with Norman Caesar on the keyboards featuring.

Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate Mike Zito lends his guitar to the riff-heavy “Working Man”, and also the slide-driven funk of “Money And Oil”, co-written by Neville and Zito, with some nice guitar solos and also rhythm work. The album ends in a gentler vein with Cyril Neville’s own “Slow Motion”, in a reggae style and very summery with it, and nicely pushed along by the rock-steady pairing of Carl Dufrene and “Mean” Willie Green.


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