Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Chris Whitley- Crystal Ship
The MP3 is gone.
The blues was once a dangerous, incendiary music. But America has a way of watering down its original art forms. Today, most blues has become just another way to sell prefabricated good times.
Chris Whitley was the exception. The musician is reported to have died yesterday at the age of 45. Whitley was the real deal- a scary and uncompromising bluesman. Careful listening to Whitley’s haunted voice and peerless guitar work reveals the hellhounds on his trail. While remaining wholly unique, Whitley was our modern Robert Johnson.
Perfect Day, the covers disc pictured in the photo, is good. My favorite Whitley release, however, is the terrifying Live At Martyrs’. And his second CD, Din of Ecstacy, was truly shocking when it was released in 1995. Whitley’s debut CD, Living With the Law, was an epic, mainstream production and sold very well. He was on his way to filling stadiums. Then came Din of Ecstacy, which as its title suggests, was more Sonic Youth than Stevie Ray Vaughan. Whitley was an unpredictable wild card.
True artists are a rare breed. That small number has decreased by one.