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Daily Record 1/20/11: Willie Nile-Willie Nile (1980)

In 1980, 1980s, records, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock on January 20, 2011 at 11:34 pm

People who are seriously into music benefit enormously from being around other people who are seriously into music. I have always been fortunate to know people who love music just as much as I do, but who may have heard some albums and artists along the way that I may have missed, and vice versa. This makes for some good information exchanges.

Take my friend Ed W, for example (as opposed to my friend Ed M; he’ll probably pop up in another entry). Years ago he discovered rock’n’roll singer/songwriter Willie Nile and last year he passed this knowledge on to me.

I had always heard the name “Willie Nile” but had never heard hs music until Ed suggested that I check him out, which is how I came to hear Nile’s 1980 debut album. According to what I’ve read, Nile had been soaking up the New York punk rock/new wave scene in the years leading up to his first album and, while the album doesn’t sound explicitly punky or new wave, it is a straightforward rock record that probably sounded quite refreshing to anyone who felt pummelled by lengthy progressive rock suites and disco workouts by the time the ’70s had ended.

Nile isn’t afraid to tackle big issues here, in songs like “Across the River” and “They’ll Build You a Statue,” but he is just as adept at creating more intimate lyrical scenarios, as he does on “Vagabond Moon,” and (especially) the acoustic “Behind the Cathedral,” a beautiful song about a couple engaging in a ritual of their own deep in the shadows outside a large church.

While Willie Nile was a promising debut, Nile has not been the most prolific artist over the years. However, he’s recently released two albums, including last year’s The Innocent Ones. To be honest, I have yet to sample Nile’s recent work but I plan to; in my entry on Steve Barton last week, I noted that I very much appreciate artists who are committed to their creative work over the course of their lifetimes and Willie Nile is clearly a member of that club. You can find him at http://willienile.com/.

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