THE LITTLE WILLIES are Lee Alexander, Jim Campilongo, Norah Jones, Richard Julian and Dan Rieser. On their self-titled debut CD they cover a range of songs by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt and Fred R... more »ose, as well as bandmember originals.« less
THE LITTLE WILLIES are Lee Alexander, Jim Campilongo, Norah Jones, Richard Julian and Dan Rieser. On their self-titled debut CD they cover a range of songs by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt and Fred Rose, as well as bandmember originals.
"This disc is a true pleasure. I've been listening to the stream of the album pre-release courtesy of the Amazon digital locker. The music is loose, fun, a mix of Americana covers and great originals. You can tell these musicians are having grand old time playing their favorites. (Their fun may be captured best in the closer "Lou Reed," with one of the cooler lines heard in a while: "Now we don't mean to sound like we're tripping, but we swear to god we saw Lou Reed cow-tipping.") Of all the great songs on this, my favorites are two originals: "Easy as the Rain" and "Roll On," the latter showcasing Norah Jones' gorgeous vocals (who keeps sounding better and better).
The band is Lee Alexander (bass), Jim Campilongo (electric guitar), Norah Jones (piano, vocals), Richard Julian (guitar, vocals) and Dan Rieser (drums). Here's a list of the songs, whether they're originals or covers (and who popularized them):
"Roly Poly" (Fred Rose cover, Hank Williams popularized)
"I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive" (Fred Rose cover, Hank Williams popularized)
"Love Me" (Leiber/Stoller cover Elvis Presley popularized)
"It's Not You It's Me" (original by Richard Julian)
"Best of All Possible Worlds" (Kris Kristofferson cover)
"No Place To Fall" (Townes Van Zand cover)
"Roll On" (original by Lee Alexander)
"I Gotta Get Drunk" (Willie Nelson cover)
"Streets of Baltimore" (Gram Parsons cover)
"Easy as the Rain" (original by Richard Julian and Jim Campilongo)
"Tennessee Stud" (Jimmy Driftwood cover)
"Night Life" (Breeland/Buskirk/Nelson cover, Willie Nelson popularized)
"Lou Reed" (original by Alexander/Julian/Jones)"
Masterful New York City Honky Tonk, Blues and Country
prisrob | New EnglandUSA | 03/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Willies is a joyous group of five talented musicians paying tribute to their master, Willie Nelson. Willie" Norah Jones" is best known as the singer/pianist, and for her CD, "Come Away With Me' for the 2002 season. Willie "Richard Julian" plays great guitar, various keyboards and even some bass. Willie "Jim Campilongo" is a master electric guitar player. Willie "Lee Alexander" is a bass player and song writer. He collaborated with Norah during 2002 and they brought home the "Album of the Year". Wille "Dan Rieser" the drum player. They all came together to play at "The New York City living Room" and developed the idea to produce a record. The Willies is the result of these five friends and musicians combined with rhythm and blues, honky tonk and country. It is a time gone past and brought to the present.
The first song is a classic country western, "Roly Poly". The band jumps quickly from bass/thump to guitar and then Norah's piano plays. And Norah and Julian star with their vocals, jumping this number right into the front line.
The second tune "I'll Never Get Out" features Julian's vocals with Norah's back up. Campilongo's guitar shows his gift for handling blues and he sounds like a jazz afficianado
Elvis Presley's popular tune, "Love Me' is the third song. Norah Jones does the lead vocals and Julian supports her. They blend beautifully and make this song their own.
"It's Not You It's Me" is a Julian original song that is as honky tonk as you can get with Norah showcasing her talent in a slower version of this jive.
Kris Kristofferson tune `Best Of All Possible Worlds" is next and this faster pace leads into a frenzied guitar solo, as well as Reiser playing drums and Alexander's bass work. Again Julian's and Norah are the vocals that lead this train driving beat.
One of my favorites, Townes Van Zandts "No Place To Fall" showcases Julian's vocals and features the talents of the entire group.
"Roll On" is another original tune, this one from bass man Alexander. Norah Jones's makes this song her own. Her lovely voice is made for this one.
"Gotta Get Drunk" is a playful delivery that those of us who are fans of Norah Jones have not heard before.
The second Nelson number, "Nightlife," is a solid country blues once more led by Jone's vocals and skill.
"Streets of Baltimore" is another song that belongs on this album. Its pure country sound and made for Julian's vocals.
"Tennessee Stud" is a funny western story song. This tune stands out for its rolling piano and out-of-sight guitar work; its infectious thump and shuffle beat make it a solid country rocker.
The Little Willies rounds up with a couple of originals: the slow ballad "Easy As The Rain" which was penned by Julian and Campilongo, and is a beautiful love song.
The closing track is "Lou Reed," a playful little ditty that has Julian giving his best impression of the fellow New Yorker and rock pioneer. The entire band joins in on vocals and have a blast together, solidifying their "live" sound.
The Little Willies album is a joyous expression of talented musicians coming together to have a good time making music, the way music should be made. Simple and maintaining a loose, live sound that keeps this album moving right along. The entire band is solid. This New York City unit is masterful at what they do. Highly Recommended. prisrob 3-11-06
Fun listen... more fun the second time, even more fun after
Fletcher | Foxboro, MA | 08/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a recording engineer by trade. I sit in little rooms with no windows and big speakers listening to the same song for 15 hour stretches for weeks in a row. Every now and again a record will roll through that is actually fun to make. This sounds like one of those recordings.
Whether or not the players took this seriously or not will only be known to them and the production team, but the presentation comes across as if it was just a bunch of talented friends hanging around a studio and having some fun making music.
With a great cover version of one of my absolute favorite Hank songs, the album might have been able to leave one or two songs in the can... but rip the album to an iPod and those songs can be the right breath of fresh air as you're driving. The audio quality and production decisions of the recording should also be noted. Yeah, there are some notes of questionable tuning but the their presentation is so believable the record would not have been served if those notes had been corrected. Matt Marinelli captured the sounds with perfection, and didn't over process or manipulate it later [or so it seems!!].
The record works for me in a big way and I for one am exceptionally happy to own a copy of this recording [a client for whom I'm going to start a project in a few months sent me the copy as a kind of template for the way he'd like his project to come out... if we get 1/2 way there then that is going to be one damn fun project!!]."
The Love Comes Through
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 11/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These musicians started playing live gigs together in New York City just for the fun of it. They kept coming back. Eventually, they went into the studio to cut some tracks. The feel is loose. The sound reflects the great love of the music and the fun the musicians had together. The sound is infectious. No, this is not a Norah Jones record. Nor is it meant to be, thus the band title "The Little Willies" and the Milking Bull music label. Therefore, the musicians have gone to great pains not to create false expectations.
The music here is quite endearing. I remember listening to Hank Williams' records with "I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive." Hank's classic sound often had a forlorn quality when he sang. The Willies boogie through the tune as if death were quite a party. Townes Van Zandt's high tenor also made you think he was the loneliest man on Earth. On his "No Place to Fall," Richard Julian goes deep and mines the great wistfulness in the melody, "I'm here & I'm gone & I'm forever blue, oh but I'm sure wanting you." Gram Parsons sang "Streets of Baltimore" with Emmylou Harris' angelic backing. With Richard Julian and Norah Jones, the song feels a bit more upbeat with Jones' vibrant piano. The Willies really polish this melody. I keep hitting repeat when it comes on the changer. Other tracks like "Easy As the Rain" & "Roll On" are also outstanding. This is an excellent project from these musicians. The love comes through. Enjoy!