If you are familiar with the 1950s sci-fi film classic called The Day The Earth Stood Still, the impact of the lead track and title song from Willie Nile’s like-named new album will resonate. This recording continues a fine trajectory of recordings he has been crafting for the last several years; some might even call it a late career “renaissance” but I don’t think that is the case as he’s been releasing fine music for decades. Willie Nile has been steadily expanding his audience not only on the East Coast but also internationally courtesy of the Internet.
That said, in these troubled times when new releases from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones are not as frequent as many of us would like, these grand rock ‘n’ roll recordings from Willie are a welcome part of a rock ’n roll continuum documenting our daily existence on the streets of big cities and small towns alike.
Like most of Willie’s albums, The Day The Earth Stood Still delivers a good cross-section of classic rock ‘n’ roll garage band sounds and memorable songwriting hooks coupled with often clever word play (such as on the near-epic title track). Willie even gets a little on the Stones-funky side on “Time To Be Great” and “Expect Change” (the latter also echoing Sandanista-era Clash, think “Magnificent Seven”).
“Blood On Your Hands” finds Willie tight-roping it all down the line to that sweet Stones-meets-Springsteen center stage spot light, all the while delivering a blunt message which you can aim at your favorite crook or political power abuser.
The Day The Earth Stood Still is mostly chockfull of strong songs of solidarity, hope and love such as “Sanctuary,” the heart-string tugging “I Will Stand” and the poignant album closer “Way Of The Heart.”
Few people could pull off a twisted tale like the wry-smile-inducing rocker “Off My Medication,” as Willie does here.
I’ve been listening to The Day The Earth Stood Still on CD and it sounds really solid all things considered as modern rock ‘n’ roll records go — full bodied with no off-putting harshness from poor preparation of the digital files (which sometimes occurs when cutting down — if you will — a high resolution 24-bit source down to 16-bit resolution). The album rocks great when listening to it in the car.
That said, you can also find The Day The Earth Stood Still on Tidal (click here) in CD quality and on Qobuz you can hear it in Hi Res format, streaming at 88.2 kHz and 24-bits (click here). Indeed, the Qobuz version offers just that extra bit of better fidelity so when you turn it up you can feel the additional presence of the band and their instruments.
I suspect some of that extra “muchness” will carry over to the vinyl edition which I hope to get my hands at some point (and when I do, I’ll be sure to give you all an update on this review).
But for right here right now, if you are ready to put your rock ’n roll shoes on, Willie Nile’s The Day The Earth Stood Still is the ideal dance partner to help you hold strong through the ups and downs of 2021.