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November 19, 1986 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-11-19

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday; November 19,1986

Neville Brothers: Louisiana rock in a

family way

By Alan Paul
Next time you go to a concert,
any concert, look closely at the
roadies. One of them will be
wearing a Neville Brothers T-shirt.
It's a given. The Nevilles, who
appear tonight at the Nectarine
Ballroom, have long been one of
the favorite bands of other
musicians. Keith Richards called
their 1981 release Fiyou on the
Bayou "the best album of the
It is generally acknowledged by
people who have seen them play
live that it is impossible to sit still
once the Neville Brothers begin to
"We've got the secret groove",
keyboard player Art Neville once
said. He was refering to that unique
Mardi Gras parade back-beat, called
second line, that the body just can't

seem to resist.
New Orleans is a musical
melting point. The chants, rythms,
and tunes of West Africa, Spain,
France and the Carribean have all
been strong influences there. The
Crescent City was the birthplace of
jazz, home to its own unique style
of blues, as well as the home of
rock and roll pioneers Fats Domino
and Little Richard to name but a
few. The place has got one hell of a
musical heritage.
The four Neville Brothers grew
up on the streets of New Orleans
absorbing all these influences and
more. The music is steeped in
tradition yet remains extremely
"We're black", Art said, laughing
as he answered a confused reporter's
query. "But we've been influenced
by everything in New Orleans--

African, Indian...everything. There's
a lot involved in the music."
"Many people look at this as if
it's new music, but to us it's
something that comes down from
our childhood, passed from
generation to generation...We got a
tribe. (The music's) just in us, it's
in the blood."
In the late '60's, Art and per-
cussionist brother Cyril were
members of the Meters, dubbed the
"founding fathers of funk". Aaron,
one of the nation's finest vocalists,
was a regional star for years before
gaining national celebrity in 1966
with "Tell It Like It Is". Charles,
Neville brother number four, played
sax in B. B. King and Bobby
"Blue" Bland's touring bands in the
'60s before moving on to a long
stint in New York's progressive

Aaron and Charles.
"We talked about getting
together for a long time but we
couldn't afford to", Art says. "We
did it as soon as it economically
made sense. We decided that we
needed unity. Even if we never get
rich or become stars, we really
enjoy it and we're comfortable.
"When me and Aaron, Charles
and Cyril got together in full force,
we could feel the difference right
away and you hear it when we play.
"It's a blessing to play as a
family", Art, at 48 the eldest
brother, continues. "Just look at the
world today. Brothers don't even
look at each other until they're
staring down at a coffin. We were
raised - together and we play
together. To play music and make a
living together is really something

two on national labels. Each release
has recieved increased critical praise
but they have never achieved great
commercial success.
One of their commercial
problems has been their music's
uniqueness; it cannot be pigeon
holed into any one genre. They
have been called a blues, funk, or,
most commonly, an r&b band, but
the Nevilles are truly impossible to
label and Art wishes that people
would realize that.
"When you call us r&b we're
dead", Art has said. "Because there's
no way we fit into the category of
what r&b is today...I hate to even
say 'New Orleans music', 'cause
that makes it sound too regional."
The Nevilles recently wrapped a
new LP of all new material. The
release, due out shortly after the

"Something wonderful's about to
happen," Art says. "We all feel it,
something real big's going to
happen. We're moving in a
seriously positive direction. We've
been at this a long time. We've got
our heads on straight."
Indeed, Art has maintained an
amazingly upbeat outlook after
more than two decades of near
misses, semi-hits, vanished
royalties, and bum deals. He seems
to shrug off past problems as so
many necesary stepping stones.
"In this buisness, without
patience you go out of your mind
or fall by the wayside", Art says in
a deep, gravelly-voiced southern
accent. "You can't get too
frustrated. You've just got to keep


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jazz scene. else.It's a pretty strong thing." first of the year, marks the Nevilles
In 1977, Art and Cyril disbanded The Nevilles have three albums return to a major label and they "We just go for it. No one ever
the Meters and joined forces with under their group belts, the first have very high hopes. said it would be easy."
'Streets Of Gold': A promising premise gets
tarnished through too many pulled punches

by Katherine Hansen
Meet Alek Neuman (Klaus
Maria Brandauer), a Russian Jew
and former boxing champ oppressed
out of the ring and right out of the
Soviet Union because of his reli-
gious beliefs. Having been told
that the streets of America are paved
with gold, the bitter and disillu-
sioned emigre settles in New York's
"Little Odessa," i.e. Brooklyn's
Brighton Beach. In his new neigh-
borhood, Alek meets and coaches

' To neighborhood boxers who give
him a chance to start anew...
Now watch an intriguing
premise evolve into Joe Roth's
lukewarm directorial debut.
Streets of Gold is a flick that
thrives primarily on a pulsating
"win-win-win" plot that seizes and
holds our attention - for awhile,
anyway. As we follow Alek's
coaching of boxing hopefuls
Timmy Boyle (Adrian Pasdar) and
Roland Jenkins (Wesley Snipes),
we really do want to cheer for the
boys as they struggle for a top

contender's berth. We really do want
to cheer for Alek as he struggles to
regain his lost self respect. We ho-
nestly want to feel the trio's pain,
to vicariously experience their suc-
cesses and failures.
But it's hard.
Despite its captivating (albeit
familiar) plot, it's hard to applaud a
film in which character deve-
lopment appears somewhere near
the bottom of the priority list.
What a shame, since Roth had an
exceptional cast with which to
work. Renowned Austrian actor

Brandauer, fresh from his Academy
Award-nominated performance in
Out of Africa, takes an unmi-
stakeably sincere, heartfelt approach
to the role of Alek, yet his short,
beer-bellied presence renders him
unconvincing as the former inter-
national boxing great.
Pasdar and Snipes, who play
ring hopefuls Roland and Timmy,
are impressive in several hard-hit-
ting fight sequences, but screen-
writer Tom Cole gives them little
basis on which to build their
characters' personalities. Sure -
Roland is rude, Timmy is foul-
mouthed, and both are hot-headed
in their quest for the KO and ul-
timately for a ride out of Brooklyn's
lower class, but we see little di-
mension in either individual. Evo-
cative training shots allow us to
share in their sweat, to experience
their muscle aches, and to witness
their fierce competition to be Alek's
prime protege...
...but we are left out of their
evolving friendship with each other
and with Alek. As viewers, we are
first expected to understand that
Roland and Timmy want to beat
each others' asses, and then to be-
lieve Roland's conviction that
"there's room for both of us, man."
What miracle suddenly occurred to
make the boys want to share a
Coke, a smile, and their good will?
We are given a ringside seat for
their skyrocketing careers, but we
haven't a clue as to why they form
familial bonds.
How, then, are we supposed to
cheer their successes and lament
their failures? Apparently, we're
(Continued from Page 7)
Cyndi Lauper
True Colors
The voice is a nine. The material
is a two. Lauper can sell the hell
out of a ballad, like the title track,
and anyone who doesn't recognize it
as vastly superior to Madonna's
"Live to Tell" is confused. But so
what? Last album it was "Time
After Time," this album it's "True
Colors," what else is Cyndi Lauper
going to do for us? Not much.

Teach old
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It's absolutely maddening to hear
first-rate pipes slogging through
fourth-rate material, but that's what
True Colors is. The only breaks in
the over-synthed, bouncy monotony
are "Maybe He'll Know," a doo-
wopper in which Lauper's vocals
are especially good, even though
the instrumentation is too contem -
porary, "Iko Iko" a jubilant chil -
dren's sing-along, and, on the
down-side, an ill-advised cover of
the Marvin Gaye classic, "What's
Going On" that is nothing short of
tragic. Big booming drums-the
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