Tom "Manfred" Allen - drums; Willy DeVille - lead vocals, guitar; Louis X Erlanger - guitar; Rubén Sigüenza - bass, vocals
The word on the street in 1976 and 1977 was that Willy DeVille, leader of the alternative NY band Mink DeVille, was going to be the next Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. Well, it never happened, but DeVille did have some impact on the growing alternative music scene from which acts like Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Talking Heads emerged.
This show, one of several recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, was during DeVille's first U.S. tour promoting the band's debut LP, Mink DeVille (released in Europe under the name Cabretta), and was taped at New York's legendary Bottom Line club. Featuring mostly material from that album, including "Shadows In The Night," "Phantoms In The Dark," "Gunslinger," "Cadillac Walk," "Mixed Up Shook Up Girl," and "Venus Of Avenue D," it is unclear why DeVille was never a bigger star in the U.S. He certainly had the looks, the songs, and the stage charisma, not to mention a voice that was trained by Phil Spector protégé, Jack Nitzche. The band closes with DeVille's semi-hit, "Spanish Stroll," before coming back for a quirky encore of Ben E King's "Stand by Me," and the standard pop ballad, "I'm In The Mood For Love."
Born William Borsay, August 27, 1950, he took his surname from his favorite car, a Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Growing up in the heart of Greenwich Village, Willy DeVille absorbed the influences of the already established folk movement (Bob Dylan, Odetta, Phil Ochs), and the growing rock movement (the Blues Project, Jimi Hendrix, and others) which used the Village as its launch pad.
By the late-1970s, he had formed his own band, entitled Mink DeVille, which operated as a group and as a musical foundation for the songs which DeVille was writing and singing. They quickly gained acceptance by the punk and alternative music scene, which revolved around New York's legendary CBGB club. After doing three songs on the indie compilation, Live At CBGBs, Mink DeVille was signed to Capitol Records and produced by legendary Phil Spector/Wall-Of-Sound arranger, Jack Nitzsche. DeVille had an affinity with the classic Spector recordings and the music of the Brill Building. He also had a deep love of Latin, blues, and folk music. Therefore, his own music style was one of great diversity.
He never saw much commercial success in America, but he was loved by critics and had a core cult following that remains loyal to this day. In Europe, however, he became a superstar and he has been able to sustain a successful career across the Atlantic for nearly 30 years.
Willie DeVille kept the band Mink DeVille alive through the early-'80s and the end of the punk explosion. He would return under his own name, releasing a number of albums and film soundtracks, produced by a number of industry celebs, including Dire Straits guitarist, Mark Knopfler. In 1987, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his song, "Storybook Love," the theme from the film, The Princess Bride.