A journeyman rocker who never found the stardom he was predicted, but who, throughout a 36-year career has rarely disappointed, at 68 Nile remains as passionate and enthusiastic about his music as when he was just starting out, enjoying a critical if not commensurately commercial renaissance since the release of 1999's "Beautiful Wreck of the World". Since then, he's released a further five albums, each burning with the same fire, these days usually referred to in the same breath as Springsteen than the Dylan comparisons of yore.
Indeed, this, his tenth studio album, kicks off with the decidedly Roy Bittan style piano intro to "Forever Wild" before it opens up into a stadium-friendly, fist in the air refusal to grow old power anthem, an energy that equally flows through the ringing and rolling wave of unity in the face of poverty and war that is "Let's All Come Together", the chugging rock 'n' roll Ramonsey swagger of "Grandpa Rocks" (the autobiographical lyric about a musician's refusal to grow old, complete with a nod to The Stones), the Brylcreamed rockabilly slap bass "Hell Yeah" and, featuring former Eagle Steuart Smith on electric guitar, "Trouble Down In Diamond Town", a chugging Badlands-like narrative about a small town high school princess looking for escape in beer, sex and a shotgun.
However, he's not just about the fireworks. "Runaway Girl" (which has Patricia Vonne on castanets) is a strummed love story ballad (okay, this one does recall Dylan), while "Citibank Nile", a dig at Wall Street money machines, is Muddy Waters-style old school slide down and dirty guitar blues and, a tribute to the Band's late singer/drummer, "When Levon Sings" is goodtime stomp reminiscent of a rockabilly "Louisiana Man". He does playful too, the title track, a Buddy Holly meets The Who tongue in cheek, lyrically euphemistic ("I've got a girl and her name is Jean, She puts my dog in her washing machine") account of his female conquests by the titular lothario.
Like Springsteen, Lou Reed was a friend and supporter, and Nile pays tribute (and even looks like him posing on the back cover) by closing the album with a plangent guitar chiming version of "Sweet Jane" that crackles with a live show electricity. There's no frills, no muso finessed slick sophistication, no boundary pushing, but if you want to hear honest American rock'n'roll played with conviction and enthusiasm, then that's the source of the Nile.
|Alice Jones: Poor Strange Girl||BJ Barham: Rockingham|
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