Willie Nile – Streets of New York
CD Review by Mike D'Ariano

 

 

 

 
April 2007
 
 
Track listing
1.
  Welcome To
My Head
2.
  Asking Annie Out
3.
  Game of Fools
4.
  Back Home
5.
  The Day I Saw
Bo Diddley In
Washington Square
6.
  Best Friends
Money Can Buy
7.
  Faded Flower
of Broadway
8.
  When One Stands
9.
  Whole World
With You
10.
  On Some Rainy Day
11.
  Cell Phones Ringing
(In The Pockets
of The Dead)
12.
  Lonesome Dark-
Eyed Beauty
13.
  Police On My Back
14.
  Streets of New York

Label: Reincarnate Music
Release Date:
February 21, 2007

For starters and for the sake of total honesty, let me say I've never heard of this guy. In fact, I don't even know how you say his name. Is it Nile like the river or does it rhyme with Willie? I have no clue. I've never heard of the guy.

But there I was, standing in the rapidly depleting music section of what was once my favorite major music store. I've got fifty dollars and three CDs in my left hand. My eyes lock on the sign above the cash wrap, "Buy 3 CDs get a 4th for FREE!!!"

I think to myself, "You my friend need one more CD."

Problem is, I've been there for an hour, and I've already looked for that Minutemen CD I wanted. I've already looked for the third Dropkick Murphy's album, The Ratchets album, Townes Van Zandt's Greatest Hits, and various compilations…the damn store doesn't have anything. What to do? What to do?

At that precise moment, I looked over to my right and saw a striking black and white photograph of a guy walking down the street holding a guitar. He was blurry, and it reminded me of the cover of Rancid's Life Won't Wait (which has sat comfortably among my Top 20 all-time favorite albums for about a decade now).

I reached over and picked up the CD. It had song titles like "The Day I Saw Bo Diddley in Washington Square Park" and "Cell Phones Ringing in the Pockets of the Dead." I was thoroughly intrigued. And then I noticed that the second to last song was a cover of "Police On My Back" by The Clash….I was sold.

I was willing to pay "free" for this interesting little CD I discovered with no prior knowledge of the artist or his work. Sometimes you gotta be bold.

So all that said, I had no idea what to expect when I threw the CD on. I was ready for anything.

What I got, was some great songs with great lyrics and solid production. The one thought that kept coming back to me was that the guy reminded me of Dylan, and after a while, I came to the conclusion that what Willie Nile had in fact done, was successfully make the album that Bob Dylan was trying to make during the mid-80's.

This is what "Empire Burlesque" or "Shot of Love" would have sounded like if they didn't sound like Dylan was hopped up on something and thoroughly balancing on his last leg. It's witty and wry like those early Dylan songs we all love, but it has a modern edge to it in both production quality and in the music itself.

Near the end of the record, "Lonesome Dark Eyed Beauty" is the love song lacking from "Down In The Groove." It's followed by the boisterous Clash tribute which reminded me how good "Sandinista" could be, and then it's all wrapped up by the title track "Streets of New York" which brings it all home in a Dylan-esqe, Springsteen fashion, harmonica and all. These three songs alone make this one worth it.

Highly recommended if you're searching for that elusive free fourth CD or not.


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