Got The Fever

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mink Deville

Where would my musical direction have progressed to without Mark? I wonder if it would have evolved without him, or would it have grown as much? Mark was a profound mentor of music who influenced me deeply and thoroughly thought he never knew it. Never specifically playing anything with me in mind, he simply played music that he dug and I absorbed the ambiance like a black hole.

He unknowingly exposed me to a thick, potent, glossy maze of a music jungle that incorporated 45’s, albums, artists, groups, and whole genres that I most likely would not have uncovered, or explored as deeply, on my own or in lesser company.

Mark was the one who first turned me on to Southside Johnny, which was my very first post. Although, when I was a guard at Wingersheek Beach the girl I was seeing (Sherri?) did in fact play a track or two from an album of Southside, but Mark played the whole rich catalogue, dunking my head and giving me total immersion.

I’ve long since lost touch with this amazing friend but his legacy lives on in me. One out of the boundless ranges of artists that he played around me, and that I will always thank him for, was Mink DeVille. What memories would I think of during the soundtrack of the late 70’s and early 80’s without Mink Deville? Thank you Mark – wherever you may be.

Mink DeVille was part of the CBGB heyday along with Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Tuff Darts and Television. While the mix there was birthing punk, new wave and art pop, Mink gave us a palpable taste of the Soul, R&B and Blues, which was distinctly unlike the aforementioned – especially because he also brought the ethnicity of a diverse New York with him on stage. Lead singer Willy DeVille had an ominous growl that could next turn to warm doo-wop and then channel dripping wet spirit.

The band had none other than Jack Nitzsche as producer, Willy wrote songs with Doc Pomus, they toured with Elvis Costello and I can tell you from first hand experience that to see them perform live was an encounter that I should have by rights paid triple for. Willy would snarl and make the mike back up in fear on ‘Gunslinger’ or ‘Soul Twist’, drop to his knees denting the stage floor and achingly plead for love on ‘Little Girl’ or ‘Guardian Angel’ and it was precisely when you felt as though you had fingered through the band’s full brunt of atmospheric force and emotions, he’d pull out stunning and shocking covers of Moon Martin’s ‘Rolene’ and 'Cadillac Walk’ that might have had Moon smiling, nodding his head and muttering “Yea – that’s how I meant it to be.”

And I wonder, how can I possibly do justice to the band, most especially for those with little or no knowledge of Mink DeVille, by dispensing only two tracks? Which album to choose? And I certainly did consider spotlighting only Willy with his ‘Backstreets of Desire’ because it is an example of how an artist can grow and still retain his essence by recording material that does not leave his base audience behind and at the same time enriching the intoxicating mix of musical flavor while attracting new legions.

Well, I just have to choose.

Mixed Up Shook Up Girl
Quintessential Mink DeVille, this is a blend of Latin late night, smooth as silk a cappella by The Immortals, confident and crisp guitar licks and Willy’s voice focused from deep with his soul.

I chose this one because this was one of the first tracks that I heard through Mark and one that just happened by chance to pop into my head on the way back from work today.

This clearly illustrates the music that they would be playing on the CBGB stage. Can you imagine that amongst all the burgeoning scenes and cacophony that was on stage at any given night that Mink would bring down the house with something as tender as this? That’s a reputation!

One could think of this first selection as if on a date, a first date - suave, all grins and best foot forward.

She's a mixed up, shook up girl,
Got me so strung out.
I don't know what to do.
She's a mixed up, mixed up, shook up girl.

Take a breath, in the night.
Hurry over, she said,
But there was no one in sight.
Now break away, is in her eyes.
You know that little girl,
She cut me deep, inside out.

She's a mixed up, shook up girl,
Got me so strung out.
I don't know what to do.
She's a mixed up, mixed up, shook up girl.


Turn You Every Way But Loose

The smell of week old spilt beer on the floor and tables has been wafting through your nostrils. A small clutch of groupies standing off to the left of the stage stare – anticipating. Cigarette haze, not yet outlawed, has everyone inhaling slow, steady breaths. Sweat drips in sequence to the beads of condensation outside the mixed drink tumblers.

The band builds fury.

Early in the morning
Don’t you hearing me calling
Howling like a dog at the moon
It’s all right, I don’t mind

Cause, I just wait for that sign
In just a wink of an eye
I’ll come runnin’ to you
Any ol’ time

With a shaker like a fever
Getting close to heaven
Just think of your receiver and breath (ha!)
Its alright, I don’t mind

Cause, I just wait for that sign
In just a wink of an eye
I’ll come runnin’ to you
Any ol’ time

I wanna turn you any way but loose
If I can only get my hands on you


Savoir Faire
This is a rough and dirty homage to an eye popping and captivating woman that he happens to catch a glimpse of. All wild hormones are on full alert, rational thought has been sliced at the throat and objectivity hanged on the spot leaving hindsight running for safe harbor.

I was standin’ on the corner of the avenue
I was watching all the girls go by
And there she was in a five and dime
Somehow I got to make her mine
Yea! Somehow I got to make her mine

I was way uptown, I was lost in a crowd
I was in the blood bank, I was standing in line
And there she was, she was checking my car out
Somehow I got to make her mine
Yea! Some how I got to make her mine!

She got style she got taste
She got a beautiful face
She got - Savoir Faire!

She don’t need hooks
She got more than good looks
She got - Savoir Faire!

I love the way you paint your face
Yea I love the way you move your hips


Still, I struggled trying to determine what to feature. While you could find all of these on a ‘Best
of’, you’d be better of with the individual disks to allow you a heady, musky scent. So, though this is a small DNA strand of the band, I strongly recommend that you get your oily prints all over two or more CD covers that house the greatness of Mink Deville within.

Mink DeVille:
Mixed Up Shook Up Girl
Mink DeVille:
Turn You Every Way But Loose
Mink DeVille:
Savoir Faire
From:
Cadillac Walk: The Mink DeVille Collection

4 Comments:

  • Oh, hell yes! I first heard "Spanish Stroll" on Steve Jones' radio show a couple of years ago (yes, I know, but I'm young), and I was hooked. Such a wonderful, semi-guilty pleasure.

    By Blogger China, at 1:02 AM  

  • China, 'Spanish Stroll' was another contender along with 'Venus of Avenue D'. Thanks for stopping by.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 5:59 AM  

  • Great post, wzjn. I just caught this one somewhat belatedly after checking in "GTF". I posted Spanish Stroll & Cadillac Walk a couple of weeks back, I think, to anyone dropping in who may be interested. Mink De Ville were great fun!

    By Blogger ib, at 11:21 AM  

  • Actually JB, it was from your post that a fire was lit under my ass and again woke the desire for Mink.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 7:34 PM  

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