I’m currently listening to a 20-year old recording of the Neville Brothers from the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town, London. Originally, I think this was a BBC concert recording with someone like Richard Skinner topping & tailing proceedings…..whatever happened to Richard Skinner? For that matter, whatever happened to the Town & Country Club……and the Neville Brothers? That’s the problem with nostalgia; everything gets sprinkled with some kind of fairy dust, whether it warrants it or not. Even so, this is a pretty good performance……Brother Aaron is currently unleashing his golden tonsils on Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is gonna come’ and certainly doing it justice.
There was a time from the mid-to-late ’80’s and early ’90’s when the Nevilles were pretty ubiquitous on British TV and radio. I remember that ‘Yellow Moon’ from 1988 had the critics falling over one another to praise these guys – and rightly so, because this was a pretty rich vein for them. However, perhaps crucially, they never made the breakthrough into the singles charts and therefore never graduated from the mid-size venues like the Town & Country into the major barns like the NEC or GMex.
As I recall, the last time the Nevilles noticeably broke cover was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They have always been joined at the hip to New Orleans in the same way that Joy Division are to Manchester or Quicksilver Messenger Service are to San Francisco.
I know that Aaron Neville tried to position himself as a Smokey Robinson-type crooner during the 90’s but since then, both he and the band seemed to have dropped below my radar. Of course, it has to be acknowledged that in the mid-80’s, most of the band were already 20+ year veterans of the music scene , so maybe megastardom was never something they aspired to anyway.
I’m sure that a quick Google would bring me news of them…and Richard Skinner…and the T&C Club for that matter. However, for now it’s a pleasure just to remember what a great band the Nevilles were on stage during this era. Certainly, this is a much warmer recording than the official ‘Live on Planet Earth’ that came out about 2 years later.