May 23, 2011

THAT TOUCH OF MINK:

Brilliant, Shook-Up Guy (MARC MYERS, 5/20/11, WSJ)

Recorded between 1977 and 2005, the new compilation features live performances in Berlin, Montreux and the Netherlands. All of the remastered selections are breathtakingly contemporary and offer fresh insight into Mr. DeVille's gritty rock romanticism.

Mink DeVille recorded six albums between 1977 and 1985—including three produced by Wall of Sound mastermind Jack Nitzsche. After the original band broke up, Willy DeVille continued to perform and record with a backup group known as the Mink DeVille Band, attracting strong audience reaction in Europe. From 1987 on, he appeared as Willy DeVille.

In some respects, Mr. DeVille's music was too earnest and artsy for the States. Rail-thin, he often appeared with a thick pompadour, rat's-tail moustache and open shirt—the personification of a gigolo at a cheap resort. In later years, his look was given a Zorro-esque overhaul.

But there was creative heat and pain in Mr. DeVille's eerie, edgy look and sound. While his punk-roadhouse fusion sailed over the heads of many at home, his approach inspired many British pop invaders of the '80s, including Tears for Fears, Human League and Culture Club.

Born William Borsey Jr. in 1950 in Stamford, Conn., Mr. DeVille was a chronic collector of obscure R&B and rock records. After dropping out of high school, he moved to London for two years before returning to New York and the punk scene. He started Mink DeVille in San Francisco but relocated the band to New York in 1975, where it built its reputation.

Deep down, Mr. DeVille was a passionate collagist. His songs tastefully flicked at past references and artists such as Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Ben E. King without ever lingering long enough to be considered derivative or retro.




Posted by at May 23, 2011 5:31 AM
  

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