Trying To Get To You

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Unfashionable Romance Of Mink DeVille

If you read any of the well known books about the New York City punk scene of the 70's, you won't find too much written about Mink DeVille. They were one of the house bands for CBGB's during it's 1977 heyday, but lead singer Willy DeVille's aesthetic was too romantic to be canonized alongside the cooler, artier and more nihilistic acts like the Ramones, Television, Blondie, the Dead Boys, Richard Hell and the Voidoids and Talking Heads. Willy DeVille was holding out for romance while his CB's cohorts were thinking apocalypse.

In Mink DeVille's music you heard the echoes and influence of Phil Spector, songwriters like Doc Pomus and Atlantic R&B acts like the Drifters and Ben E. King. Where the harder punk bands established all instruments except guitars, bass and drums as effete, Mink DeVille had no problems using tympani that sounded like it had been taken from "Save The Last Dance For Me." It was soulful in a time and place where soul occurred as an anachronism that had long since gone out out of fashion. For that, they were courageous; but that courage didn't ensure that they would get the recognition they deserved.

Willy DeVille continues to record and tour.

Buy Cadillac Walk: The Mink DeVille Collection

Download: "Spanish Stroll"
Download: "Mixed Up Shook Up Girl"
Download: "Cadillac Walk"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

YOU are my hero! Mink Deville! Along with Southside Johnny, the most underrated artists of the era.

Allen R. said...

Way back in the day, I had the unique experience of being the publicist/road manager/roadie for Mink DeVille. Night after night, in some strange situations (being booked as an 'oldies band'for a gig at the Governor's Island Coast Guard Base), some strange places (the gig at the uptown bar that wanted a fifth set because there was a 'prom on the street') and in the company of strange people, one thing never changed--the power of Willy's vocal and how it drove the band to reach past the tangible and grab on to a vision. No matter what was going on, those amazing pipes could be counted on to make the world seem like a better place. Three decades later, the memories of those performances still cause a shiver in my soul.---Allen R.

Ben Lazar said...

Allen,

Thanks for sharing your recollections on this. Great stuff.

francy sevallas said...

i always thort that 'spanish stroll' sounded like what Lou Reed's solo career could only dream of... brilliant

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