Aaron NevilleMy True Story/Blue Note
There are some singers who have voices that can be identified after just a few lyrics.
New Orleans-born Aaron Neville is one such artist, possessing one of the sweetest singing voices in all of R&B.
Going back to his first successful single, 1967’s “Tell It Like It Is” with The Neville Brothers, Neville has almost always proven himself to be a class act capable of switching genres with ease.
On his latest studio release, “My True Story,” Neville goes back to his childhood musical roots, recording some of his favorite doo-wop classics.
From the first track, a cover of The Drifters’ “Money Honey,” it is obvious that these songs mean something to Neville. He treats each song as if it were a vital part of his youth, because that’s what these tunes represent.
Other standout songs include “Be My Baby,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “Under the Boardwalk” and the title track.
The album is co-produced by Don Was and Keith Richards and features primo musicians such as Benmont Tench, Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr and George Receli. Richards even cues up his own guitar to play on some of the tunes.
While it seems that everyone and his brother is recording cover albums, “My True Story” seems to rise above the glut of those releases. It’s a classy release from one of the most beautiful male voices in music.
Key Tracks: “Money Honey,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “Under the Boardwalk”
Adam Ant Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter/R.E.D.
As one of the leaders of the romantic music movement of the early ’80s, Adam Ant made a name for himself thanks to songs such as “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip.”
Three decades later, his music still gets played on ’80s-themed stations, but Ant is poised for a comeback.
After touring the U.K., the U.S. and Australia last year, Ant has released his first studio album in 17 years.
Even the title seems ambitious, “Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter.”
Once you start listening to the album, it becomes clear that Ant has lost none of his playful nature when it comes to songwriting. While there’s nothing on the new CD to compare to “Goody Two Shoes,” it is immediately evident that he still can write a great pop hook.
Songs such as “Cool Zombie” and “Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter” evoke memories of Ant’s ’80s heyday while also showing he can write music for this day and age.
Not every song on the album is a winner. “Valentines” and “Darlin’ Boy” both seem to drone on for far too long, while “Who’s a Goofy Bunny” can be answered with “the guy who wrote this.”
Still, tracks like “Punkyoungirl” and “Cradle Your Hatred” give glimpses of why Ant was a superstar in the ’80s.
Key Tracks: “Cool Zombie,” “Cradle Your Hatred,” “Punkyoungirl”
Bad ReligionTrue North/Epitaph
When one thinks of punk rock, often the mental image called to mind is of pierced and tattooed youngsters who play their music at maximum speed and volume.
Many also assume that all punk rock bands are made up of degenerates who dropped out of school to pursue their musical dreams.
Thankfully, while every musical genre has its share of bad apples, punk rock is actually full of intelligent, well-educated individuals.
Take the California punk outfit Bad Religion, for example. In its ranks you will find a guitarist who is also a major record label owner as well as a lead singer with a Ph.D. from Cornell University.
Even with all that respective studying and tending to record label needs, Bad Religion has managed to deliver 16 albums since it first formed in 1979.
The latest, “True North,” continues Bad Religion’s penchant for socially and politically conscious song subjects, as well as the band’s trademark three-part harmony, which band members refer to as “the oozin’ ahs.”
“True North” is easily one of the band’s most accessible albums in some time, with songs like “Robin Hood in Reverse” and “Hello Cruel World” showing the band’s knack for writing a decent melody with its political ideas.
That isn’t to say that Bad Religion has gone soft. “Dharma and the Bomb,” “Land of Endless Greed” and a song with a title that can’t be printed here show that Bad Religion is as angry and hungry as ever.
It’s nice to know that you can count on a few things in life, a good Bad Religion album being one of them.
Key Tracks: “Robin Hood in Reverse,” “Land of Endless Greed,” “Hello Cruel World”
By Devin Grant