This is Billy Borsey and his band’s third album, but at this point most of his original band was gone. Soul survivor Louie X. Erlanger on guitar was joined by Elvis Presley’s rhythm section, Jerry Scheff and Ron Tutt, in Paris, as well as keyboardist Kenny Margolis and others for an amazing adventure recording a record no one knew what to do with. Or, at least, Capitol Records was flummoxed when it was done.
This was a rock record that drew equally from hard rock, chanson, and Brill Building tunes filtered through Phil Spector, produced by Spector henchman Steve Douglas. Willy wrote some of the songs with Doc “Save the Last Dance for Me” Pomus, covered the Jive Bombers’ Bad Boy, and didn’t mind exploring the Cajun life, too. The wonderful thing is it feels all of a piece, a slice in time and eclectic taste, even as it slides from genre to style. I’ll admit, this record’s breadth reflects my
Listening to it again recently is to be reminded what a major figure Willy was, maybe not in his sphere of influence and celebrity, but in the pure fact of his craft, his musical skills and his songwriting talent. The other four CBGB house bands (Television, Blondie, Talking Heads, Ramones) were iconic figures in the punk eruption. Mink Deville was no less iconic in its way, but resisted the punk label, and while they were all just as talented and accomplished, he didn’t find a way to star quite so brightly as the others.
No disco for Mink Deville. (But he did have a huge hit from the soundtrack of the Princess Bride.)
Rolling Stone’s critics poll called Le Chat Bleu the fifth best album of 1980, for what that’s worth. What’s certainly worth your time is the whole album.
Here’s the first tune, This Must Be the Night, which echoes Springsteen’s sounds, but is a pretty fresh take on that sound. Or is it playing tricks on me?
Here’s the Borsey/Pomus collaboration on the World Outside.
Cajun, in French, a cover of a song from the great Queen Ida.
I’m not sure these are the best songs. Listen to the whole thing and make up your own mind: