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My True Story

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Audio CD, January 22, 2013
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My True Story + Bring It on Home: The Soul Classics + The Very Best Of Aaron Neville
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Editorial Reviews

AARON NEVILLE - MY TRUE STORY

     "These songs helped to mold me into who I am," says Aaron Neville. "They're all dear to my heart, and they rode with me, in my bones, through all these years."

     With MY TRUE STORY, one of the world's finest singers is revisiting the music he grew up with, and adding a few new spins along the way. Neville's first release for Blue Note Records is a collection of twelve classic doo-wop numbers, performed in his utterly inimitable vocal style, and co-produced by Blue Note President Don Was and Keith Richards.

     The selections on the album include classics by such vocal-group giants as Little Anthony and the Imperials ("Tears on My Pillow"), Hank Ballard and the Midnighters ("Work With Me, Annie"), and the Drifters ("Money Honey," "Under the Boardwalk," "This Magic Moment"). To Neville, though, these songs weren't just the soundtrack to his youth; they became the underpinning for all of the remarkable music he has created across five decades.

     "I attended the university of doo-wop-ology," he says. "Anything I do has got some doo-wop in it. It’s just part of me—it’s the texture that I’m singing in, it’s the endings, it's the harmonies. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I wake up with a doo-wop song going in my head and I can’t go back to sleep because I’m singing it over and over."

     Yet the recordings on MY TRUE STORY aren't simply imitations of the original sessions. For one thing, some of the songs included—like the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" or "Gypsy Woman" by the Impressions—come from a slightly later time period than the classic doo-wop era, and aren't usually classified as part of the genre. But Neville explains that for him, it's not the calendar that matters, it's the vocal approach.

     "Doo-wop started with five guys, like the Clovers—or five girls, like the Chantels or the Shirelles —singing harmony together on a bench or a stoop,” he says. “My own favorite place was the boys’ bathroom at school, because it had such great acoustics. So I always thought 'Be My Baby' was a doo-wop song, because it’s a lead singer with harmony singers.

     “I came up in the doo-wop era, and if I heard something and thought it was doo-wop, then it was. So if it didn’t fall in that category before, then it does now!"

     The other twist given to this material is that while doo-wop tended to keep the emphasis squarely on the vocalists, MY TRUE STORY sees Neville backed by a top-flight rock & roll band, led by the distinctive, propulsive guitar work of Richards himself. The other musicians include Greg Leisz on guitar (Beck, Sheryl Crow), Benmont Tench on organ (founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), George G. Receli on drums (Bob Dylan), and Tony Scherr on bass (Bill Frisell, Norah Jones).

     "Doo-wop songs centered around the vocals,” says Neville. “But with these great musicians, we could highlight the musical side of it too-this record is a combination of all of it, to bring it up to date."

     Richards—who Was approached when he remembered that the guitarist kept the Jive Five song "My True Story" playing on a loop in his room during the making of the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge album—describes work on the album as "the perfect session." Twenty-three songs were cut in five days, all of them live and many in the first take.”

     "Opportunities like this don't come 'round very often," says Richards. "I grew up with these songs, like Aaron did. It's such a pleasure to play with a voice like that, and the band all fell straight in together—I never saw such a bunch of hardened musicians act like a bunch of kids."

     Neville explains that having internalized this music so deeply, he was able to show the musicians the genuine old-school feel that these songs require. "On songs like 'Ting a Ling' and 'Work with Me, Annie,' I had to kind of dance the groove I wanted," he says with a broad smile. "I had to move around and bob and weave and show them that strut like when you’re walking in New Orleans. But this band was ready for anything, they were jumping on it, and everything came out so easy."

     As if all of these ingredients weren't enough, several singers from the glory days of doo-wop joined the sessions to provide backing vocals on a number of the songs, including Eugene Pitt of the Jive Five (who co-wrote the album's title song), Bobby Jay of the Teenagers, and Dickie Harmon from the Del-Vikings. Neville’s touring bass player, David Johnson, drummer, Earl Smith, Jr. and Joel Katz also lend their voices to some of the arrangements.

     MY TRUE STORY represents a culmination of Aaron Neville’s incredible career, which has seen him move seamlessly back and forth between solo work and his role in the first family of New Orleans music, the Neville Brothers. His first hit single was the landmark "Tell It Like It Is," which held the Number One spot on the R&B charts for five weeks in 1967. He went on to win Grammy Awards for his triple-platinum 1989 collaboration with Linda Ronstadt Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, and reached the Country charts with the title track of 1993’s The Grand Tour. A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, his most recent project was the gospel album I Know I’ve Been Changed in 2010.

     Don Was says that it was an easy decision to bring the legendary Neville to Blue Note. "Nobody sings like him," he says. "He's a great artist, a guy with integrity and excellence and authenticity—and that’s what the label is really about."

     When Was and Neville discussed possible projects, the singer indicated that recording an album of doo-wop songs had long been a dream of his. He adds, though, that his recent relocation to New York City after losing his home to Hurricane Katrina, and his recent marriage, gives MY TRUE STORY additional significance.

     "It’s definitely extra-meaningful," he says. "I have a new life, I’m singing to my wife Sarah. I think God knew I wanted to do it and he waited for the right moment. He made the stars align, and he said, 'Aaron, it’s time for you to do some doo-wop."



Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 22, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B009B1EOVA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,802 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pate on January 22, 2013
Format: Audio CD
"My True Story" delivers the joy of romance with doo-wop music.

Aaron Neville's "My True Story" is a warm and easy-going tribute to doo-wop rock ballads of the 1950s and 1960s. I know it's only January but "My True Story" is my pick for romantic CD of the year. The timing of the CD release three weeks before Valentine's Day is probably not accidental.

Aaron Neville is a New Orleans R&B singer who looks like he has lived a hard life but has a sweet tenor voice. Neville's vibrato gives his voice a shimmery translucent sound. He can float above the melody in a way no one else can. The songs on "My True Story" give him a chance to show his talent.

The 12 tracks of "My True Story" reach perfection for me. It's only rarely I get a new CD that out of the box sounds so great you want to listen to it over and over. I didn't have to break-in the CD, make excuses for production issues or ignore the weak songs since there are none. The vocal and instrumental performances are perfect. "My True Story" is simply the sweetest sounding CD I've heard in years.

"My True Story" pairs Neville with Stones guitarist Keith Richards and the Grammy Award-winning rock producer and musician Don Was. Richards and Was assembled experienced session musicians and backup singers.

The Richards/Was arrangements are respectful of the original performers and add modern sensibilities to the songs. Neville and the backup singers are given plenty of room to strut their stuff, rocking the songs to infectious finger snapping and toe tapping beats.

Aaron Neville picked the songs from his favorites. "When I was a kid, doo-wop was like medicine to me," said Neville.
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54 of 65 people found the following review helpful By R. MARK Plummer on January 24, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I love doo-wop. I really love doo-wop. I turned the radio on in 1956 and haven't turned it off yet, so I have listened to a lot of music over the decades. (i.e. I am about the same age as this crew of musicians.) So, now I have been listening to these tunes for almost a week already and really would like to know: "What the heck happened on this project?"

Look at the lineup of musicians gathered in the studio: Don Was producing with assistance from Keith Richards. With Richards on lead guitar. Greg Leisz also on guitar. Benmont Tench on keyboards. Tony Sherr on bass. Aaaand... back-up vocals from Eugene Pitt of the Jive Five, Bobby Jay of the Teenagers, and Dickie Harmon from the Del-Vikings. What a collection of giants! This CD should be THE BOMB! But it isn't.

The selection of tunes is fine. Obviously all the notes are there (mostly) and the production is clean... but overall, it lacks something. It lacks spirit. No, to be honest, I really want to say it lacks "balls." Rock'n'roll and Doo Wop were driven by a spirit of rebellion and driven by an "in yo face" energy. This wonderful collection of tunes sounds like it was made by a group of very polite, very rich, old guys who have lost the "in yo face" attitude and spirit of rebellion that made this music so great when it burst upon the scene in the mid fifties. It's all just too polite and too well modulated. And it's nutless! I keep thinking as I listen to it: "well, maybe if I bump the volume up a bit more?" But it's not the volume... it's lack of feeling and "intensity" and "attitude" that are sadly missing. Guess what I want is the rawness, the attitude and the energy we heard in a lot of original Doo Wop and early rock. Maybe when these guys were in the studio they should have passed around a bottle of something...
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By audun berg on January 23, 2013
Format: Audio CD
The voice of Aaron Neville is unique and great, but I must admit I don't fancy his trademark high pitched falsetto. That's the first thing I love with this album - this is a constrained Neville staying in medium range. The pitch in his voice is fantastic. Then there is the doo wop retro sound, great too.

What makes this album stand out is the creativity and level of musicianship shown by the great musicians. Go to 2.50 on tears on my pillow and hear the twist they do, or listen to the beautiful tiny piano solo on Under the Boardwalk. These are only two of several great moments on the album.

Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bee Jay on January 24, 2013
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
This showcases Aaron doing what he does best. Singing Doo Wop. I have been a fan for over forty years and am a Louisiana native. So, of course I love Aaron Neville. This is a good album to add to the collection of any fan of serious singers and good music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PHE on January 30, 2013
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
For an "oldster" like me, the songs are nostalgic. Mr. Neville's style is unique (lots of quavers), but I happen to like it.
Definitely an easy listening pick. Not for everyone (you have to like Neville's style), but very pleasing to me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Emlaw on April 9, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I ordered this album when I heard it reviewed. I saved it for our Anniversary and now I am too late to return it. The production value is very poor. A garage band could probably cut a better quality CD. It sounds like a copy was copied about a thousand times. I am very disappointed that Amazon would sell such a poor quality item.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nolaiswonderful on January 24, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Aaron Neville reminds us that his voice is superb. The backup singers know the mood and harmonies of the old songs. I hope this CD introduces a new generation to the wonders of Doo-wop.
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