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A Tribute to Stevie Wonder
Vernon Neilly & Friends
A Tribute to Stevie Wonder
Stephanie Rademacher
4.5 stars

The first thing I would like to say is that I don't like Tribute CD's. If I want to hear an artist, I like listening to the original. Some tribute CD's sound exactly like the original, with the same arrangements and the artists doing their best to impersonate the original singer…Yuk! While on some tribute CD's the performing artist style dominates the Tribute CD so much that the artist they are honoring is unrecognizable. That said this is an awesome CD! It has the perfect balance of originality in the arrangements but enough of the original artist shines through to truly be called a TRIBUTE CD. Or maybe I like it so much because I just love Stevie Wonder! I was raised with his music and this CD has some of my favorite songs included.

One of the best things about this CD is there is a lot of instrumentals I guess you would call it instrumentals it actually sounds like the guitars are singing, which to me is a lot different than a guitar solo. My favorite songs are the instrumentals on this endeavor. They are sometimes the best “vocalists” on the CD.

The first song to grace my ears was “Boogie On Reggae Woman”. This instrumental was awesome and I think the only way it wouldn’t get someone listening to it to move was if they were dead. It was a great way to start of the CD because it makes you want to listen to more of the gems that grace this production. If there was ever a song that made the guitar solo sound like vocals, this is the one. Greg Howe put in an awesome piece of work. This version of the Stevie Wonder classic does NOT need words to get the message, the feeling or the song across. I like it better than the original!

Next up is “I Wish”, and we have the same thing going on here. Guitarist Kiko Laureiro is the best vocalist I never heard sing! The artists that comprise this CD have to be some of the best at expressing their art through their music. The ‘vocals’ on this piece are superb. Kiko keep up the great work! I am still wondering how I can hear the words so vividly without any actual vocals. Maybe it’s just the spirit of the song and the artist.

Really, if you love music, you will love this CD.

The third song to hit the eardrums is “Superstition”, which is one of my favorites by Stevie Wonder. That said, this was one of my least favorites on the CD. Although I like Carlos Zema’s vocals I wasn’t as conducive to listening to this song. The first thing that turned me away was the beginning. I thought they were doing “Play That Funky Music White Boy” as I listened in my car and all I could think … “that isn’t a Stevie Wonder song”. I did like the screams that Carlos added. I think they were the saving grace of this song. Unlike the first two songs, this one was barely recognizable to the original. If it weren’t for Zema’s vocals, I wouldn’t have known what it was.

The next up is “Sir Duke,” and the second track to have actual vocals. The vocalist fit the music but my favorite part was the guitar solo near the end by Miguel Mega. I think there wouldn’t have been much lost if it was all instrumental. The guitarists on this CD are so talented and expressive that they don’t need vocalists. Taking nothing away from singer Christopher Clark, I would love to hear him in other projects as he has his own style that transcends the commerciality of the music today. It’s very refreshing to hear someone that is just expressive and not trying to be another copy of someone else.

Next up is “Isn’t She Lovely”, with Fabyan Irving acing us with his vocals. Now, he added to this track. His soul came through on this one and similar to the first two songs, I just felt it. Unlike the last couple songs, I think “Isn’t She Lovely” was definitely improved by the vocals of Irving.

Now here is a novelty on, “I Was Made to Love her,” the vocalist was a back up to the guitar. The guitarist was the lead vocalist! This arrangement was absolutely awesome... totally cool. U-Nam totally rocked this recording. I think this one is better than the original. I wonder if he has any more stuff out there because I want to hear it!

Kiko delivers another punch with his masterful guitar work on “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”. Whatever band this man plays in will have to just say goodbye to their lead singer because they definitely won’t need one once Kiko joins the band!

“For Once in My Life,” all I can do is adlib a famous quote by W.C. Fields… vocalists shouldn’t work with Miguel Mega, for he will make you obsolete! I can’t believe how many talented guitarists there are on this CD. Each with their own style that brings a different dimension to Stevie Wonder classics and on this CD they definitely do tribute to Stevie with the powerful songs he composed and performed. They also show how truly great work transcends time and genres. These artists are totally awesome and talented and I can’t wait to hear more of their stuff. I reiterate if you love great music, you must pick up this CD.

Band Lineup:
  • Vernon Neilly – Vocals, Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer, – (Isn’t she Lovely, Boogie on Reggae Woman)
  • Greg Howe –Guitar – (Boogie on Reggae Woman)
  • Kiko Laureiro – Guitar – (I Wish, Don't Your Worry 'Bout A Thing)
  • Bill Hudson – Guitar – (Superstition)
  • Carlos Zema – Vocals - (Superstition)
  • Miguel Mega– Guitar – (Sir Duke, For Once in My Life)
  • Christopher Clark – Vocals – (Sir Duke, For Once in My Life)
  • Fabyan Irving – Vocals – (Isn't she Lovely)
  • U-Nam – Guitars, Bass, SynthBass, Horn Section Percussions, (I Was Made To Love Her)
  • Juan Nelson– Bass – (Isn't she Lovely, Boogie on Reggae Woman)
  • Norman Weatherley – Keyboards- (Isn't she Lovely, Boogie on Reggae Woman)
  • Felipe Costa – Drums – (Isn't she Lovely, Boogie on Reggae Woman, Sir Duke, For Once in My Life)
  • Michael Paulo – Sax Fills and Solo – (Isn't she Lovely)
  • Yaniel Matos – Piano - (I Wish, Don't Your Worry 'Bout A Thing)
  • Cuca Teixeria – Drums – (I Wish, Don't Your Worry 'Bout A Thing)
  • Carlinyhos Noroha – Bass – (I Wish, Don't Your Worry 'Bout A Thing)
  • Glécio Nascimento – Bass – (Sir Duke, For Once in My Life)
  • Fábio Lizzi – Keyboards – (Sir Duke, For Once in My Life)
  • Mauricio Fernandes – Horn Section – (Sir Duke, For Once in My Life)
  • Adam Sagan – Drums – (Superstition)
  • Bobby Williamson – Keyboards (Superstition)
  • Fernando Giovannetti – Bass – (Superstition)
  • Frank Sithon – Lead & Background Vocals Keyboards - (I Was Made To Love Her)
  • Denis Benarrosh - live tambourine- (I Was Made to Love Her)
  • Michael White – Drums - (I Was Made To Love Her)


Track Listing:
  1. Boogie on Reggae Woman (Instrumental)
  2. I Wish
  3. Superstition
  4. Sir Duke
  5. Isn’t She Lovely
  6. I Was Made To Love You
  7. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing
  8. For Once in My Life
  9. Boogie on Reggae Woman (Vocal Version)
  10. Isn’t She Lovely (Instrumental)


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