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Alternative & Indie - Released July 27, 2018 | River House Records

For nearly 40 years, New York songwriter Willie Nile has given his global cult of fans albums unapologetically romantic in their streetwise rock & roll poetics and poignant in their keen, sweeping observations of everyday life's yearning, brokenness, disappointment, and optimism. Children of Paradise is a return to original material after 2017's Positively Bob: Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan. Nile's sound, equally steeped in roots rock, hooky garage pop, vintage punk, and urban folk music, is readily on offer on this unabashedly political album. Co-produced with Stewart Lerman and performed by Nile's road band, this set is assembled from 12 unreleased songs old and new, soldered together in the urgency of the era. Cristina Arrigoni's iconic black-and-white sleeve images of street denizens are riveting, drenched in layers of meaning. They are given added dimension and dignity in opener "Seeds of the Revolution" that commences with the words "The seeds of the revolution are planted in my heart," before jangling guitars, crisp snares, and glockenspiel explode, carrying us directly into the unrequited desire for transcendence depicted by Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run for a past generation. In "Don't," Nile echoes the musical rawness and militancy of the Clash at their best with its unforgettable chorus. The impressions of Strummer and Jones linger in the funky rock environmental paean "Earth Blues." It recalls the rhythmic swagger and punch of "the Magnificent Seven" from Sandinista. The title track was written decades ago with Martin Briley but fits this set hand-in-glove with ringing acoustic and electric guitars, chanted backing vocals, swirling organ, and double-time snare shuffle. Nile's images of the young inheriting a ravaged world from their parents and grandparents are searing; they are heartbroken and pissed off at living on the other side of the American Dream. CBGB's gets namechecked in the Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers-inspired "Rock 'N' Roll Sister," that offers a temporary respite from the fractured darkness with jarring garage rock. "All Dressed Up and No Place to Go" invokes the spirit of the Ramones as images of a game show-hosting president, Henry David Thoreau, Aristotle, Santa Claus, Moby Dick, Annabelle Lee, and Don Juan all struggle with one another for dominance in the maelstrom Nile delivers one of his trademark observations of loneliness in the mandolin- and acoustic guitar-driven "Lookin' for Someone." That said, he also understands that a revolution without a love song is not a revolution at all. To that end, he drops the achingly beautiful "Secret Weapon." Set-closer "All God's Children" is equal parts storefront gospel hymn and barfly singalong, unwavering in its hope: "Tell everybody who has lost their way/All God's children gonna sing someday." Children of Paradise is focused, savvy, and resonant; it's right on time. When placed alongside Nile's best albums, it too should transcend the moment and resonate for years to come. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 23, 2017 | River House Records

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If ever an artist didn't need a covers record, it's Bob Dylan. It's been done to death -- or so it would seem. Though Willie Nile comes by Dylan's influence honestly, the other side of his lineage comes from the punk and rock clubs of the Lower East Side during the late 1970s -- Max's Kansas City, CBGB's, et al. Nile decided to cut this record after he performed "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" and ''A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at a 75th birthday celebration for Dylan. He won the crowd, but the inspiration he originally got from those songs was renewed. There are few curve balls here; half this material appeared on the initial Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits volume. That's part of this album's beauty: Nile takes on tunes whose impact has been blunted by their ubiquitous presence, and pours gasoline on them. His takes are spirited and often swaggering, with a garage band aesthetic full of rock & roll heart. The reading of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is classic Nile. Though there is an acoustic guitar, it's the razor-wire electric guitar riff and power chords, swirling Farfisa organ, and crackling snare that drive a double-time tempo that governs the urgency in its lyric. Further, Nile's singing is buoyed by a backing chorus as rowdy as the Pogues. He answers it with a slide guitar-driven roots rock "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," delivered as a bar-closing anthem with everybody on the stools chiming in for all they're worth. His version of "Blowin' in the Wind" is done by way of inspiration from the Ramones. When taking on "Subterranean Homesick Blues," Nile understands he doesn't have Mike Bloomfield. He compensates with a boogie-woogie, pumping Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano. Nile shows his sensitive side with a tender rendering of "I Want You," weaving a delicate mix of acoustic guitars, bass, and shuffling brushed snare. There's a world weariness in his gruff delivery that imbues the word "want" with new meaning as it stands in the loneliness of middle age. As delivered here, "Love Minus Zeus/No Limit" evidences that Nile remains completely enchanted with its lyric and melody; every syllable drips with a weathered and unadorned commitment. The Basement Tapes-era "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is tough to screw up, and Nile doesn't: this is the only overly restrained thing here. He adds a hard twist to "Every Grain of Sand" from Saved. It's not sung with reverence as originally recorded, but unmoored desperation. Closer "Abandoned Love" was kept in the vaults for years before seeing the light of day on a compilation. Nile's reading deftly reveals the Desire-era tune as an elegy: Its pain, regret, reverie, and resolve are borne by the ghost of love even as its protagonist carries on with relentless, restless forward motion. Dylan didn't need another covers record. Thankfully, Nile didn't give a damn and delivered one of the best. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released May 14, 2013 | Arista - Legacy

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Pop - Released | River House Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 22, 2019 | River House Records

Rock singer/songwriter Willie Nile made two albums for Arista Records in the early '80s that charted briefly; he bounced around a bit and made one more LP for Columbia in the early '90s. Eight years then passed, and Beautiful Wreck of the World was his fourth studio album, made for his own River House label. For the most part, he isn't interested in discussing his manhandling by the major labels here, but the subject does seem to come up on the title song, a contrarian vision of things turning topsy-turvy in which, among other unlikely occurrences, "MTV rock and rollers will lose their hair," the singer will make love to Jennifer Lopez, "And Madonna Ciccone will put on her pants." One can hear Nile's frustration of the ‘80s at trying to make it as a serious singer/songwriter in a business environment that rewarded hair metal bands and professional sluts. His admiration, on the other hand, is reserved for the likes of his peer Jeff Buckley, to whom the ballad "On the Road to Calvary" is dedicated. Nile's is a musical vision deriving from mid-‘60s Bob Dylan, in which a poet takes up an electric guitar and writes catchy, guitar-driven rock & roll songs full of wordy, poetic lyrics to be sung in a whiny nasal tenor. That's Nile in spades, and in the songs on Beautiful Wreck of the World he mostly pursues his poetic vision, which is alternately humorous, apocalyptic, and humorously apocalyptic, except when he slows down for the occasional song of lost love such as "The Man Who Used to Be." Nearly 20 years after he caught the eye of record executives who were hoping for a New Dylan (or at least another Tom Petty), he still sounded like a contender here, even if he was probably too old for another shot, even if he wanted it. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 25, 2013 | River House Records

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Pop - Released April 1, 1981 | Arista - Legacy

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Pop - Released April 1, 1991 | Columbia - Legacy

After releasing a pair of fine albums for Arista, Willie Nile signed a deal with Geffen Records in 1982, but a dispute with the label put Nile's recording career in limbo, and he ended up not making an album until he struck a deal with Columbia and released Places I Have Never Been in 1991. While in many respects Nile's debut was the purest expression of his music, Places I Have Never Been is where he really nailed the elements of record making; unlike the lean, stark textures of Willie Nile or the overcooked bombast of Golden Down, Places I Have Never Been boasts a sound and an approach that really flatter Nile's songs, and it's certainly his most eclectic and musically adventurous major-label set. T-Bone Wolk and Stewart Lerman produced the album with Nile, and though there's a bit more polish on these tracks than they really need, the team also matched up Nile with some stellar studio players (as well as some Grade-A guest stars, among them Roger McGuinn and Richard Thompson), and they fill out Nile's arrangements with a lot more finesse than on his previous sets. Nile also delivered a set of terrific songs for this album, and he rarely sounded as joyous as on the title cut and "That's Enough for Me," as edgy and expressive as on "Café Memphis" and "Children of Paradise," and as passionate as on "Heaven Help the Lonely," which sounds like the hit single Nile deserved but never got. Nile's luck with Columbia proved to be no better than he had with Arista, and his next release would be financed on his own dime and released by his own label, but that doesn't change the fact that Places I Have Never Been is a solid and beautifully crafted record from a gifted songwriter who also knows how to rock on out, and shows both these talents to his advantage on this disc. ~ Mark Deming
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 25, 2013 | River House Records

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Pop - Released | River House Records

Alternative & Indie - Released November 4, 2019 | River House Records

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Rock - Released March 23, 2015 | The Bottom Line Record Company