Willie Nile – House Of A Thousand Guitars

January 01, 1970

(River House Records)




Long ago freed from the commercial and critical expectations
that painted Buffalo NY
native/New York City
transplant Willie Nile as the “next Springsteen,” the talented
wordsmith and blue-collar rocker with the fiery heart has had his shares of
ups-and-downs through the years. Lawsuits, illness, and industry indifference
have often conspired to derail Nile’s apparent
breakthroughs, but none of the crap flung at him has ever drowned out his rock
‘n’ roll passions.


Nearly thirty years later, Nile
is still banging ’em out with the best of them, and if he only has a handful of
recordings to show for his blood, sweat, and tears well, they’re damn fine
records by any standards. Studio album number six comes courtesy of House Of A Thousand Guitars, and to say
that it represents Nile’s best work yet would
be an understatement of Biblical proportions. Much like Scott Kempner’s Saving Grace last year, House Of A Thousand Guitars is an
incendiary shot-across-the-bow from a long-suffering industry veteran who has
drawn a line in the sand.


Opening with the rockin’ title cut, “House Of A
Thousand Guitars” pays tribute to Nile’s
forbears and idols, name-checking legends and giants like Jimi Hendrix, Hank
Williams, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan, and John
Lennon. With a Dylanesque twang and a Springsteen soundtrack drenched in
admiration and jangly guitars, the song proves that the rock ‘n’ roll spirit is
still strong in this one.


The rest of House Of A
Thousand Guitars
does not disappoint. From the up-tempo escapist fantasy of
“Run” and the guitar-driven, swamp-blues rockabilly boogie of
“Doomsday Dance” to the melodious throwback garage-pop of
“Magdalena,” Nile’s lyrics have never been sharper, his music more
stunning. “Now That The War Is Over” is a brilliant, sing-song
anti-war screed whose beguiling nature conceals the intelligent social
commentary hidden within that bites with the ferocity of a drunken pitbull. The
allegorical “The Midnight Rose” is a statement of faith and
determination disguised as a hard-rocking romantic fantasy, with stinging
guitars and driving rhythms that should be blasted out of your car windows right now!


Gently guiding the album’s flow with a mix of folkish
ballads and full-tilt rockers, Nile’s
particular brand of urban-Americana is the sound of a mature, battle-hardened,
and maybe just a little saddened survivor of a thousand cuts. Backed by top-notch
musicians like guitarists Andy York (Jason & the Scorchers, John
Mellencamp) and Steuart Smith (Rodney Crowell), bassist Brad Albetta (Martha
Wainwright) and drummers Rich Pagano (Rosanne Cash) and longtime
friend/collaborator Frankie Lee, Nile brings
his vision into sharp focus with laser-like intensity.


Almost three decades after being proclaimed the “next
big thing,” Willie Nile is living up to every promise he ever made, House Of A Thousand Guitars delivering
uncompromised and uncompromising rock ‘n roll from one of the last true
believers in the power and the majesty of the music…and he sounds like he’s
having a hell of a good time doing so….


Standout Tracks: “House Of A Thousand Guitars,” “Little Light,” “The
Midnight Rose” REV. KEITH A. GORDON



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