Wednesday, September 06, 2006

MUSIC: Chris Whitley

One of the more interesting musical introductions I encountered on my recent trip to Germany is Chris Whitley. It's sad that I have to travel to Germany to hear about this guy, a truly talented songwriter and musician that was just passed over by the American recording industry for the most part. Up until his death last year, Whitley managed to record 14 proper albums mostly in New York City and parts of Germany where he had amassed a pretty good following. His confessional blues/rock songs are incredibly powerful, his guitar work top-notch, and his voice as broken in as a good pair of blue jeans. Here are a couple quotes I thought you might be interested in.

"The post-Hendrix explosion of whammybar wankers hasn't produced a single axeman who can compare to Chris Whitley. His eerie, bluesy voice and American gothic tunes frequently draw attention from the fact that he picks like a pissed off Doc Watson jacked through a Marshall stack" - Rolling Stone

"Chris is an example of one of those things that appalls me about the record industry. That is, how could a talent like his go relatively unnoticed? So few singers have their own personality, and Chris is his own man to the bone. Honestly, I feel more passion for his music than I do for my own. My music I'm critical of. But I have a fervent, religious devotion to the magic that Chris makes." - - ATO co-founder Dave Matthews

His 14th and last album (Reiter In by Chris Whitley & Bastard Club), recorded in NYC, is completely analog and done mostly in a single take with no overdubs. Here are a couple tracks off this impressive record.

::: Chris Whitley & Bastard Club - I Wanna Be Your Dog (Stooges Cover)
::: Chris Whitley & Bastard Club - Mountain Side
::: Chris Whitley & Bastard Club - I Go Evil

Now, the super interesting thing is that there's a limited release 7-inch single of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" released by a small record store in Heidelberg, Germany called Downtown Records (500 copies only). I couldn't find a website for the store, but if you're interested then email me at and I'll send you the owner's email address so you can work something out.

You can purchase the new album as well as much of his back catalog at Insound or Amazon.

Official Chris Whitley website
Chris Whitley myspace page
Chris Whitley / Reiter In myspace page

[Photo credit goes to Danny Cinch]