Friday, 12 October 2018
Mink De Ville - Sportin' Life (1985)
Released in 1985
Recorded in Muscle Shoals Studio, Alabama
This album, from 1985, was the end of the line for Mink De Ville. After five excellent albums of soulful, Latin-influenced new wave rock with a tender, romantic edge, sort of Bruce Springsteen meets The Drifters, as described in my other reviews of their work, Willy De Ville called time on his band. In fact, he pretty much had done so already, to be honest. None of the original and members were left on this album. The music was played by high quality session musicians, as if it were a Willy De Ville solo album, which is what it was, really.
What it was, though, was played in that typical Mink de Ville style, although the slick, crystal clear eighties production took away some of the edge and intuitive soul that was present on the other albums. Too many programmed drum sounds abound, to be honest. For example, a superb fifties-influenced doo-wop song like "When You Walk My Way" is blighted by those damned eighties drums, as is the Springsteenesque "In The Heart Of The City". The eighties were a curse on so many artists.
It is not without some classic De Ville songs, however. The afore-mentioned “In The Heart Of The City” and “I Must Be Dreaming” are excellent, solid, romantic rockers full of saxophone and De Ville’s nasal vocals. “Italian Shoes" is a bit of a throwaway, but catchy all the same. “Slip Away” is a sumptuous slice of De Ville yearning balladry, while “When You Walk My Way” has that fifties doo-wop influence that Willy always loved and did so well.
“A Woman’s Touch” rocks out the saxophone again, and “Easy Street” and “Little By Little” revisit the blues and rock ’n’ roll respectively. “There’s No Living Without Your Loving” and “Something Beautiful’s Dying” are two heartbreakers to say goodbye to this wonderful band that, for me, hold such great memories of the late seventies/early eighties. Willy De Ville’s solo career would begin in earnest two years later with the excellent “Miracle” album.
- October 12, 2018