Yes, yes, I know. I need to get back to doing these more often. Not a ton of time today, but I implore you to check out one of my favorite albums of all time: Le Chat Bleu by the band Mink DeVille.
Led by Willy DeVille, the band is long defunct (although DeVille himself still records on a regular basis out of his adopted hometown of New Orleans) but was once a part of the same New York City CBGB punk scene that spawned Blondie, Ramones and Talking Heads.
DeVille’s musical vision was slightly different than his brethren, though. Along with the vital street punkiness, DeVille added to his energetic rock a reverence for the classic pop of the Drifters and doo-wop in general, though the doo-wop part was more of a feeling than something he expressed musically. During its’ lifespan, his band recorded several albums of smart songs with lots of passion and plenty of guts. As albums, they were pretty good, though nothing really life-changing.
His music got life-changing when he started writing songs and running around with legendary Brill Building songwriting genius Doc Pomus, the man who wrote Save The Last Dance For Me for the Drifters and many, many hit songs for various artists, including Elvis Presley.
DeVille took the Spanish lilt (what I believe is called the baion beat) that Pomus specialized in and started adding it to his NYC street poetry. Together, the old legend and the young turk wrote songs that should have been all over the radio. The glorious result was Le Chat Bleu, a beautiful album that, sadly, was only released overseas at the time but eventually trickled back to the US through word-of-mouth. Recently re-released by Raven in Austrailia, the album has been expanded with a bunch of bonus tracks that somehow make perfection even better. The album is a smoky, rocking, almost-male-chanteuse-like, passionate testament to love and it is something I have yet to hear attempted by anyone else, let alone duplicated.
It simply knocked me out and I remain a fan to this day, though I stringly feel Le Chat Bleu was Deville’s peak, both with his band and solo. Today he seems to take the style of Le Chat Bleu a little serious and there is less of the warmth and innocense present though you could do much worse than using that album as a blueprint.
If any of this appeals to you I hope you decide to check this album out and give it a listen. It is available through Raven Records of Austrailia along with a few other of DeVille’s CDs both new and old and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Are you gonna love Willy?
The Music Nerd knows…….