Mink DeVille

Spanish Stroll 1977-1987

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Disky boils down the wild and varied career of Willy DeVille and concentrates on his legendary New York band, Mink DeVille, and their brand of no-nonsense, razor-blade Spanish stroll Jersey soul; it was a musical blend that had more in common with Phil Spector's 1960s than the CBGB '70s, but that's where it came from and it connected with the punks big time. This is roots rock with soul, swagger, and slither; it's a combination of catchy hooks, sweeping early rock crescendos, and DeVille's in-the-cut vocals that could melt the pants off a teenage girl at 50 paces -- well, at least back in the day they could. The 14 tracks assembled here come from the band's self-titled debut album, Return to Magenta, and Chat Bleu, a record the band collaborated on with the legendary Doc Pomus, all recorded between 1977 and 1980. The band issued two more acclaimed recordings after this, but fell apart amidst the dance mania of the new wave '80s. Here are the classics from those three albums: "Venus of Avenue D," "Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl," the title track, "Just to Walk That Little Girl Home" (written with Pomus), "A Train Lady," "Guardian Angel," "This Must Be the Night," "Heaven Stood Still," and many others. This is the sound Lou Reed tried to emulate all his life after the Velvet Underground, the street tough who is possessed by the tenderness of a boy with a rusty nail carving a woman's name into his arm with black ink and a cigarette lighter. This is the sound of a street that will never disappear, the sound of music as it evaporates into the heart of the listener and echoes long after the music has stopped playing. This is Mink DeVille the cipher, the legend, the no-account rock band with a street gang's attitude and a soul-boy's croon.

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