Children Of Paradise By Willie Nile

November 1, 2019

One of the kings of American rock and roll has returned with a new album. Willie Nile released seven albums during the first three decades of his career but now they are coming more quickly as this is his fifth release since 2013.

Lately he has issued an all piano album and one of Bob Dylan covers. Children Of Paradise is a return not only to his roots but to the roots of American rock as he has produced an album of all new compositions.

The album cover is representative of the contents. The faces are photographic images of people from his Greenwich Village neighborhood. While the portraits are of people rejected by society, the songs hook into and bring to life the dreams and realities of their lives. In many ways, the album is thematic in approach; all tied together by the album closing “All God’s Children.”

Songs such as “Seeds Of A Revolution,” “Gettin’ Ugly Out There,” “All Dressed Up An No Place To Go,” “I Defy,” and “Secret Weapon” have created a powerful album that runs from desolation to hope and all points in between.

The sound is basic and elemental rock as he is mostly supported by his live band, guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Johnny Pisano, and drummer Jon Weber plus a few guest musicians. It adds up to infectious and thoughtful music that is appropriate for a party or late at night.

Niles has been a force in American rock and roll since he opened for the Who’s 1980 American tour. Children Of Paradise cements his status as a premier songwriter and musician. It is also one of the better albums of his career, which is very high praise.

Positively Bob: Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan

December 12, 2017


This new release by Willie Nile is a keeper. A lot of musicians have covered Bob Dylan, but very few better than Nile. He is one of the better American rock and roll artists working today and he is able to fuse his rock tendencies with Dylan’s folk/rock material.

He shines on some of Dylan’s classic compositions, “Rainy Day Women #12 X 35,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” but also explores his catalogue a little deeper, “Abandoned Love” and “Every Grain Of Sand.”

He re-invents two eternal folk songs, “The Times They Are A Changin’” and “Blowing In The Wind,” His gritty vocal brings a new energy to these old chestnuts.

Positively Bob: Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan is the latest chapter in the musical career of Willie Nile. It is an album to sink your teeth into and hang on.


World War Willie By Willie Nile

October 20, 2016

a2Willie Nile, the rocker’s rocker, has returned with a new album titled World War Willie. He has always been able to fuse his unlimited energy with his ability to create incisive and relevant lyrics and his new release carries on this tradition.

His new album provides a counterpoint to 2014’s If I Was A River, which was a laid-back piano based affair. Now, with his new release, he returns to a fiery brand of rock and roll. Backed by his long-time band of lead guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Johnny Pisano, drummer Alex Alexander, plus an assortment of friends; he blazes through 11 original songs and one cover piece. It all adds up to one of the finest albums of his career.

Nile is now 67 and several of the tracks reflect his age. “Grandpa Rocks” is both humorous and realistic. His tributes to lost friends Levon Helms; “When Levin Sings,” and Lou Reed, with his take on “Sweet Jane” are poignant, heartfelt, and a look toward inevitability.

Nile has always been able to create rock music that has bite and meaning. The album cover features a photo of Nile pasted against a picture of the destroyed city of Dresden during World War II. “Forever Wild,” “Let’s All Come Together,” and “Trouble Down In Diamond Town” expand on this stark background image as Nile puts his thoughts and visions into his music. “Runaway Girl” and “Beautiful You” slow the tempo and are examples of his picturesque storytelling.

“Tracks such as “Hell Yeah,” and “Citibank Willie” are joyous romps through the mind and music of Willie Nile.

World War Willie is one of the better albums of the first half of the year. Not only does it feature Nile’s identifiable fusion of late 1970’s punk with classic rock but does so with energy, passion, reflection, humor, and even a little redemption. It proves Grandpa can still rock!

If I Was A River (CD) By Willie Nile

March 12, 2015


For close to the last 40 years, Willie Nile has been an American rocker, pure and simple. That’s what makes his latest studio album so unique and ultimately interesting. He has traveled in a different direction as his new studio release is an album of original piano tunes.

During the course of his career he has been one of the more passionate rock and rollers on the music scene but now his emphasis shifts to a gentle and melodic sound that keeps the focus directly on his lyrics.

His approach is sitting at the piano, with minimal accompaniment and presenting his songs in a laid back and intimate fashion. It is basically keeping it as simple as possible, which benefits the material. His chief contributors are guitarist/keyboardist Steuart Smith and mandolin/acoustic guitarist/violinist David Mansfield. They are experienced enough to provide support, yet at the same time wise enough not intrude upon the subtle nature of his performances.

While most people probably picture Nile with a guitar in his hands, he proves to be a more than capable pianist. The lyrics are strong as he explores love, loss, joy, hope, and peace but the music is softer than what he usually produces.

The use of the word river in the album title is appropriate as songs such as “Song of A Soldier,” “The Ones You Used To Love,” “Let Me Be The River,” “Lullaby Loon,” and the poignant title track meander along. The music does not overwhelm the listener but rather ebbs and flows.

Only a mature and confident artist would issue album so different from his usual norm. If I Was A River finds Nile taking the road less traveled and he and his fans are the better for it.

The Innocent Ones by Willie Nile

October 26, 2011

So what does a person do when he graduates from the University of Buffalo with a degree in philosophy? Well in Willie Nile’s case you become one of the better, if underrated, rock artists active today.

Since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1980, he has floated in and out of the rock limelight. He has now returned with his latest release, The Innocent Ones. It has only been available as an import, but now will be issued in the United States beginning next month.

The album is basically a three man affair. He continues to play the guitar and keyboards plus provide the vocals. He is joined by longtime friend and bandmate, Frankie Lee who handles the drums and percussion, plus multi-instrumentalist Steuart Smith. Nile and Lee also share writing credit on 10 of the 11 tracks.

During the first two decades of his career he only released four studio and two live albums. He has been a lot more prolific lately as since 2006 he has issued three studio and three live albums. His new release follows in the footsteps of 2006’s Streets Of New York and 2009’s House Of A Thousand Guitars. The production is slick, the intriguing lyrics explore themes of the forgotten and hopeless, the musicianship is first rate, and the vocals are emotional.

The album’s press release states that Nile considers this album to be as good as anything he has ever produced, and listening to the music he may be right.

The music stands on its own. “Singin’ Bell” is an anthem that combines Pete Seeger and The Ramones. “One Guitar” is a philosophical statement about how one guitar and one voice can change the world. He is encouraging other artists to record the song as part of his One Guitar Campaign. All versions will be sold on iTunes with the profits going to charity.

There are beautiful ballads (“Song For You” and “Sideways Beautiful”), rock/pop creations (“My Little Girl” and “Far Green Hills”), and some rockers as well (the aforementioned “One Guitar” and “The Innocent Ones”).

It’s nice to have Willie Nile back performing and recording on a regular basis. He has always had the respect of his peers and his small but rabid fan base. Hopefully The Innocent Ones will bring him the commercial success that has always eluded him. His new album shows that his passion for creating good music still burns bright.

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