Willie Nile - World War Willie album review

Boss-beloved upstate New Yorker’s 10th.

Willie Nile World War Willie album cover

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Willie Nile started as another wannabe Dylan troubadour heading for Greenwich Village, watched events unfold at CBGB, and by 1982 was supporting The Who on their US ‘farewell’. Townshend, Springsteen, Paul Simon and Ian Hunter are still supporters of a New York scene veteran finally picking up career steam aged 67.

There’s plenty of references and reverence to the rock’n’roll life here, cosily familiar stuff to those big guns who love him. Forever Wild could be Springsteen, from its piano to promises to stay ‘true links’ in rock’s chain, while When Levon Sings is a heartfelt country-rock stomp honouring The Band’s Levon Helm. It’s well-meant but well-trodden, rarely exciting ground. The crocodile-tears Wall Street blues of Citibank Nile, and Trouble Down In Diamond Town’s wild child heroine with ‘fire in her eyes and a pint between her thighs’ give a better idea why Nile’s so well-regarded.

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).