DVD Review: May 04, 2006 Author: Richard Marcus - Footage at Vimeo [23:00 min]
There's an urban legend that circulates about Willy DeVille’s choice of “Mink DeVille” as the name of his first band. The story goes that when a reporter asked him why that name in particular for his band, DeVille is said to have replied that he'd always thought the ultimate in cool would be a mink-lined Cadillac Coup de Ville.
DeVille is the type of musician whose persona makes you want that story to be true, even if it isn't. Back in Mink DeVille's heyday, you could visualise him tooling around Spanish Harlem in a convertible, mink-lined Coup de Ville with the top down. One hand on the steering wheel, the other tapping out a Latin beat against the side of the car that's capturing the sounds of the barrio wafting around him: the energy, the life, and the undercurrent of ever present danger of the inevitable result of mixing drugs, poverty, and desperation.
That's the sharp edge you hear in all his music: the subtle sounds of the street interwoven into the silky rhythms and salsa grooves. Tom Wait's trashcan drunk persona seems to be almost a caricature of itself on occasion. Others who have strived for any sort of street authenticity (with the exception of certain rappers whose gangsta roots are never too far off stage) just look silly because you know about their mansions and their lifestyle. Even when DeVille is singing a song like "Storybook Love" (his Oscar nominated hit from the movie The Princess Bride), the whiff of danger is always there and always real.
You'd have thought, given all DeVille can bring to a stage, someone would have brought out a DVD of one of his concerts by now, but Live In The Lowland, recorded in Amsterdam's Club Paradiso, is the first ever digitalised recording of Willy. All praise for this venture must be given to the folk over at Eagle Rock Entertainment for going where no one has dared to tread before in capturing the mercurial DeVille on camera.
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