World War Willie
River House 2016
Review by David Bowling
Willie Nile, the rocker’s rocker, has returned with a new album titled World War Willie. He has always been able to fuse his unlimited energy with his ability to create incisive and relevant lyrics and his new release carries on this tradition.
His new album provides a counterpoint to 2014’s If I Was A River, which was a laid-back piano based affair. Now, with his new release, he returns to a fiery brand of rock and roll. Backed by his long-time band of lead guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Johnny Pisano, drummer Alex Alexander, plus an assortment of friends; he blazes through 11 original songs and one cover piece. It all adds up to one of the finest albums of his career.
Nile is now 67 and several of the tracks reflect his age. “Grandpa Rocks” is both humorous and realistic. His tributes to lost friends Levon Helms; “When Levin Sings,” and Lou Reed, with his take on “Sweet Jane” are poignant, heartfelt, and a look toward inevitability.
Nile has always been able to create rock music that has bite and meaning. The album cover features a photo of Nile pasted against a picture of the destroyed city of Dresden during World War II. “Forever Wild,” “Let’s All Come Together,” and “Trouble Down In Diamond Town” expand on this stark background image as Nile puts his thoughts and visions into his music. “Runaway Girl” and “Beautiful You” slow the tempo and are examples of his picturesque storytelling.
“Tracks such as “Hell Yeah,” and “Citibank Willie” are joyous romps through the mind and music of Willie Nile.
World War Willie is one of the better albums of the first half of the year. Not only does it feature Nile’s identifiable fusion of late 1970’s punk with classic rock but does so with energy, passion, reflection, humor, and even a little redemption. It proves Grandpa can still rock!