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Aaron Neville

Bring It On Home . . . The Soul Classics (Burgundy)

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Since Hurricane Katrina, Aaron Neville's New Orleans band, the Neville Brothers, has been quiet. Aaron, meanwhile, has gone into the studio to record 13 R&B favorites -- which is like Michael McDonald tackling Motown: warm, friendly, and not very ambitious.

Two predictable Sam Cooke classics -- "You Send Me" and "A Change Is Gonna Come" -- set the CD's easy-listening tone. Some renditions ("Rainy Night in Georgia," "When a Man Loves a Woman," "Stand by Me," "My Girl") are so laid-back, you might confuse them with "lite" radio fare or even Muzak. The album finally awakens with a lush arrangement of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," pairing Neville with Chaka Khan.

Neville picks up the pace somewhat on "Respect Yourself" (Mavis Staples joins him for a duet), "It's All Right," and "Ain't That Peculiar." Missing are a couple New Orleans staples ("Night People," "Mother-in-Law"). And he might have chosen to cut a modern-day version of his own '60s soul hit, "Tell It Like It Is." Unfortunately, Bring It On Home never gets off the couch.

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