I bow to nobody in my admiration for Aaron Neville. I consider him to be one of the finest singers of his generation, a true original with a level of artistic sensitivity seldom found elsewhere. And although he has made some fine music over the last 20 years or so both as a member of the Neville Brothers and as a solo performer, his greatest moments on vinyl are to be found on his surprise no 1 hit “Tell It Like It Is” in 1966. The title and hook were just irresistible and the arrangement was an absolute peach of a ballad – but its success was astonishing for a disc on a tiny local New Orleans label. The financial demands of the distributors took the label and its local representative company, Cosimo Matassa’s Dover concern, into bankruptcy.
It was inevitable I suppose that answer songs to the hit would be forthcoming. The only one that I have any time for is this one by the unknown Sunny Lane. I like the way the instrumentation is so close to the original (although nobody can play the piano like Allen Toussaint) and I also enjoy Sunny’s plaintive tones so in tune with the lyric. The whole thing was put together by Tom Ayres who was head of A & R for Hanna Barbera records at the time.
Tell it like it was / Trollin’ ~ HANNA-BARBERA 513 (1966)