Aaron Neville has one of the most unique and beautiful voices in popular music. A master of R & B and soul, his high vibrato voice and Louisiana roots make him one of the most distinctive sounds ever recorded. Some refer to his voice as angelic, and that comes to mind with his rendition of Linda Ronstadt’s arrangement of ‘Ave Maria’, which closes this album.
Recorded in 1991, it’s a big multi-track production with Neville backed variously by The Grace Episcopal Choir, The Skywalker Symphony Orchestra and a host of stars including Linda Ronstadt, Rita Coolidge, Bob Seger, Ry Cooder and Dr. John. Yet the music and recording never sound pasted together like some all-star vehicles. While some have criticized the record as crossing over too far, I think the mixture of his hit ‘Everybody Plays The Fool’ with Randy Newman’s ‘Louisiana 1927’, a handful of Cajun inspired tunes, a little country and a little show music is well balanced, and I don’t pine for the “pure” early work at all. And with the awesome sound on this record, this is a big winner. Originally mastered by Bernie Grundman for A & M, the improvements in Grundman’s mastering facilities over the last 20 years shine through on this two LP 45 RPM reissue.