Beyond the novelty backgrounds, the closely choreographed dancing and the finely arranged harmonies that were so important to Doo Wop was a whole group of superbly beautiful songs that deserve their place among the greatest of the 20th century.
Aaron Neville mines some of those great tunes for his latest album, My True Story. The LP, produced by Keith Richards and Don Was, takes Nevillefs glorious voice and puts it over vintage-sounding arrangements by a tight backing band that makes you think that these recordings are fifty years old. Gone in the arrangements, though, are some of the background voices/choruses and strings that tended to overpower some of the original singers, letting Aaronfs voice shine through.
Neville says that gThese songs helped to mold me into who I am. Theyfre all dear to my heart, and they rode with me, in my bones, through all these years.h His song selection from those memories is impeccable with some of the most beautiful ballads of the era including Goodnight My Love, My True Story, Gypsy Woman, Tears on My Pillow, Under the Boardwalk and This Magic Moment. All are prime examples of superb songwriting.
Aaron doesnft shy away from some of the uptempo songs of the era, either, taking on such classics as Ruby Baby, Little Bitty Pretty One, Work With Me Annie and the album opener, the Driftersf Money Honey.
On that opener, the band (Keith Richards (guitar), Greg Leisz (guitar), Benmont Trench (organ), Tony Scherr (bass) and George G. Receli (drums)) lay down a solid beat that drives the song along without overpowering, giving Neville a chance to lovingly recreate even the uptempo classics of the time.
While almost every song on the album would be considered a classic of Doo Wop, a couple fall outside the genrefs era which was pretty much gone by the early-60Œs. Most notably, the Driftersf latter day Under the Boardwalk is now considered a standard of soul and the Ronettesf Be My Baby which came from the Girl Group era and Phil Spectorfs Wall of Sound. Neville explained why he put the song in the vocal harmony genre, saying gDoo-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, so I always thought Be My Baby was a doo-wop song, because itfs a lead singer with harmony singers.h
This very well could be one of Nevillefs greatest albums, pure of intent and in execution. Just a classic singer with a band that knows their place on some of the greatest songs of the last sixty years.
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