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A fourteen year old kid has just settled in on the roof of a building on MacDougal Street. We’re in the early sixties, New York. The West Village. Sounds of the raucous and throaty voice of Fred Neil, of Bob Dylan's unbridled folk hymns and of the electroshock guitar of Jimi Hendrix waft out of the clubs on the street. And the kid living on the roof, he takes it all in. Willy DeVille's introduction to music contains within it the true and complete character of an urban tale.

In 1977, after having been billed through Mink DeVille as one of the most original groups on the New York punk scene, in the mythical CBGB’s club alongside Blondie or the Ramones, the staggering recording debut of Willy Deville takes place with the launching of the album Cabretta, praised by the influential Rolling Stone as one of the best albums of the year, with the charm of it's popular urban rock'n'roll-rhythm'n'blues of the '50s and '60s, between the DRIFTERS and PHIL SPECTOR. It was Jack Nitzsche himself, the former fabulous arranger of Phil Spector and of Wall of Sound during the Golden Age of Teenage Pop who produced the album. Two hits brought Willy Deville public recognition, particularly in Europe: "Spanish Stroll” and "Cadillac Walk".

Jack Nitzsche immediately recognized an artist with a faith and a romanticism too rare for the times. Their fruitful collaboration continued the same year with the excellent Return to Magenta which included the heart-rending ballad "Just Your Friends", co-written and arranged by Jack Nitzsche.

Le chat bleu, this time bearing the signature Willy DeVille, was recorded in part in Paris in 1980. His admiration for Edith Piaf and his love of the city were the inspiration for an album of triumphal romanticism, with hymns like "This Must Be the Night" and "Just to Walk That Little Girl Home", a title composed with the legendary composer and lyricist Doc Pomus.

Coup de Grâce, real soul, followed in 1981 and then, in 1983, Where Angels Fear to Tread, in which Willy DeVille surprised his public with "Demasiado Corazon" and its openly salsa approach. This was followed by Sportin’ Life in 1985, which featured the massive European hit “Italian Shoes”.

"Produced by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Miracle (1987) is an excellent album with an impeccably polished sound where the singer has lost nothing of his soul (…)". This statement from Yves Bigot in “Michka Assayas' Dictionary of Rock” was comprehensively confirmed when the song “Storybook Love” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song when it was featured in the film The Princess Bride.

He then settled in New Orleans which proved to be extremely fertile soil. In this new musical phase, Willy re-appropriated the rhythm'n'blues standards of his idols and brought out, in 1990, an intensely rootsey album, Victory Mixture, recorded with the legendary musicians Dr. John, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint and two members of the Meters.

In 1992, in a daring move with the release of Backstreets of Desire, Willy Deville unexpectedly took on a title of the rock Pantheon thought to be untouchable, Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe." He delivers a mariachi version of this classic which becomes an international hit. Other remarkable titles on this album include "Bamboo Road", "Jump City" (produced by Dr. John), and "I Call Your Name”.

In 1993, the album Live came out, bringing together pieces recorded in two venues, the Bottom Line in Greenwich Village and the Olympia in Paris. The soul-chorus / brass mixture with its impressive orchestration assured the album the number one sales chart position in Spain.

In 1995, East West issued the twelfth work of Willy DeVille: Loup Garou, a bewitching album permeated by a New Orleans voodoo ambiance which marked a new artistic direction for the artist, and included a magical duet with Brenda Lee entitled “You’ll Never Know”.

Willy’s last studio’s album came out in 1999. Entitled Horse of a Different Color, an old American expression meaning something that could be the same but is very different, it is an unsettling exploration of the music of the South, made up of remakes of traditional black music titles such as "18 Hammers", of bare, pure blues like "Going over the Hill", and of original compositions like "Gypsy Deck of Hearts" or "Lay Me Down Easy".

In 2002 Willy further enhanced his reputation for stretching musical boundaries by taking his music on the road in the stripped-down form of an acoustic trio, comprising Willy and his guitar, a double bass and a grand piano. The Berlin leg of this tour was recorded and released as both an album and a DVD, again to considerable critical acclaim.

The next chapter in Willy’s remarkable journey is the album Crow Jane Alley. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer John Philip Shenale, and featuring an amazing array of guest musicians from north and south of the border including the legendary Joey Waronker on drums, Willy has produced a truly landmark album in an already exceptional career. From the Latin street-groove of “Chieva” (featuring David Hidalgo of Los Lobos) and “Come A Little Bit Closer”, via the heart-felt “My Forever Came Today” and the uniquely delivered cover of Bryan Ferry’s “Slave To Love”, to the deeply reflective “Crow Jane Alley” (recorded in memory of his old friend and collaborator Jack Nitzsche), this record oozes soul and blues from every groove whilst at the same time demonstrating a depth of style, content and emotion only available to those very few musicians who have really lived their art. The emotional charge conveyed by Willy DeVille’s voice is the sum of all these journeys.


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