Sunday, 3 June 2018

Mink De Ville - Cabretta (1977)


Released in 1977

Recorded at A & R Studios, New York City

I have always liked this quote from the legendary producer, Doc Pomus. It was used on the rear cover of the “Return To Magenta” album - 

“Mink DeVille knows the truth of a city street and the courage in a ghetto love song. And the harsh reality in his voice and phrasing is yesterday, today, and tomorrow — timeless in the same way that loneliness, no money, and troubles find each other and never quit for a minute.

I have also really rated this quote from music critic Neil McCormick too:-

“...De Ville and his band reached deep into blues and soul, the classic romantic pop of Ben E. King and The Drifters, with a side order of Spanish spices and New Orleans Zydeco swing. They favoured castanets over tom-toms, and accordion over distorted guitars, and Willy delivered his vocals with a sweet, tuneful flexibility that brought out the emotional resonance beneath his nasal sneer. What the wiry, dapper De Ville had that tied him to fellow CBGB resident bands like The Ramones, Television, Blondie and Talking Heads was an edge. He was drawing on some of the same musical areas that Bruce Springsteen ’s epic rock dipped into, but Willy was an entirely different creature, a macho dandy in a pompadour and pencil moustache, with the dangerous air of a New York gangfighter and an underbelly vulnerability that came out through the romanticism of his music. Springsteen sounded like he was your friend in desperate times. De Ville sounded like he couldn’t quite decide whether to serenade you or pull a knife on you...”

That was Willy De Ville’s image - a sharp “West Side Story” suit, with a rose for his girl in one hand and a switchblade in the other.

With that image, Mink De Ville came out of nowhere in 1977, looking like an extra from “West Side Story” he rode the waves of punk with his Latin-influenced soul rock, (if that makes any sense). An excellent debut album this is too.

Kicking off with “Venus Of Avenue D” we are transported to the mean streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side’s “housing projects” and a raven-haired Latina beauty who has caught Willy De Ville’s eye. A great cover of the Phil Spector song “Little Girl” follows and then a slab of De Ville blues rock in “One Way Street”. A true classic is up next, a track loved by Mick Jagger, apparently, who was caught dancing to it in a recording studio after everyone had gone home - “Mixed Up Shook-Up Girl”. A lovely piece of Latin syncopation and De Ville’s yearning vocal.

“Can’t Do Without It” is in similar vein, with a great sax solo by Spector session veteran Steve Douglas, and “Cadillac Walk” a groovy piece of swamp blues. Of course, there is also De Ville’s only hit, the still popular “Spanish Stroll” with its great guitar intro and Lou Reed-style vocals. “She’s So Tough” and “Party Girl” are both impressive too.

Still a great memory of the summer of 1978 for me.


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