Music for your speakers: Aaron Neville’s Warm Your Heart

Graham Hi-Fi Recommends Aaron Neville

Not only do they sell the world’s finest hi-fi, but Graham’s Hi-Fi shop in Islington, London also stocks a carefully chosen selection of CDs and vinyl.

So who better to ask what recordings they recommend to truly get the best from your speakers. Here, Paul Janove explains why Aaron Neville’s album is still so popular amongst customers.

“Although we moved into our current premises during 1989, by the time that one of our leading hi-fi manufacturers, Naim, brought out their first CD player, the CDS, in 1991 we decided that we really must go out and buy some CDs for demonstration.  So I went with my colleague Jude to visit Our Price in Upper Street, where they had just removed all their LPs, lack of demand I think they said, and bought an armful of CDs.  The one that stood out was the Aaron Neville CD.  It was so popular on demonstration that we had to carry it in stock as most of our customers wanted to buy it once they heard it.  In fact to this day, over twenty years later, I still get customers who have forgotten what system they bought from us, but remember that we recommended this album to them.  For us it was the perfect mixture of wonderful music, expertly performed and sounding great.

Aaron Neville is an R & B singer from New Orleans and he had his first hit with “Tell It Like It Is” in 1967.  He also formed a group with his brothers Art, Charles and Cyril (not Phil and Gary) producing the excellent ‘Yellow Moon’ in 1989, the same year that he had a huge hit singing a duet with Linda Ronstadt on “ Don’t Know Much”.  In 1991 Ronstadt co-produced Warm Your Heart as well as providing some vocals and arrangements.  So what is the album like? It is more of a pop album than a soul one, but then every note Neville sings is soulful.  And the highlights? Well, there is a cover of John Hiatt’s ‘It Feels Like Rain’ with some great vocals from Neville, and some trademark slide guitar from Ry Cooder.  There is a version of ‘Somewhere, Somebody’, a track also covered by Jennifer Warnes on her excellent ‘The Hunter’ album the following year.  Then there is the hit single, ‘Everybody Plays The Fool’, a wonderful demonstration track, with the sound of the drums, played by Russ Kunkel, flicking between the left and right channels, followed by Larry Klein’s bass and Aaron Neville’s sweet vocals, along with some guitar licks from David Lindley.  Then there’s the self-penned, percussive ‘Angola Bound,’ with Dr John on piano, and Bob Seger on backing vocals.   But the track that everyone still remembers is ‘I Bid You Goodnight’, a traditional Bahamian gospel song, arranged by Neville and Ronstadt.  It opens with some tasteful guitar from Ry Cooder, followed by the soulful voice of Aaron Neville, accompanied by a bass drum, played by Jim Keltner, and the deep voices of four male singers, Donny Gerrard, Willie Greene Jr., Bobby King and Arnold McCuller.  The contrast between Neville’s high voice and the backing singers’ bass and baritone voices, accompanied by Keltner’s bass drum and Cooder’s guitar, makes this one of the great demonstration tracks to test one’s hi-fi system.”

Paul Janove, Graham’s Hi-Fi, London

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