VIGILANTES OF LOVE
1999 True Tunes
Review by: Steve Ruff
I will forever profess my admiration for Bill Mallonee’s music. His music is a gift, and simply amazing for several reasons. Nobody else in the music industry turns out this much material that is this good. Mallonee has well over 1000 songs to his credit, and I can honestly attest to the fact that I have never heard Bill stick any kind of filler on his records. I say that sincerely. He has lived his life in a van with a relentless touring schedule of 180+ dates a year for 20 something years. His songs are snapshots full of history, struggle, and heart-on-your-sleeve honesty with influences ranging from the writings of Flannery O’ Connery, Jack Kerouac and Frederick Buechner. The musical influences are diverse as well, Joy Division, The Clash and Neil Young are but a few. I have said more than once, “Give me Mallonee over Dylan any day.” You might think that’s a crazy thing to say, but the music is that good.
Paste Music Magazine named Bill as #65 amongst the best 100 living songwriters. Vigilantes of Love were a band that received much critical acclaim, but somehow that never transferred into album sales. I have never understood how music that is this good, and this well reviewed by so many, never translated into commercial success. This record, Audible Sigh, was called “compelling and insightful” by Rolling Stone. Billboard said of Mallonee, “Dylan-tinged vocal and introspective lyrics that spin out big-picture stories imbued with chilling small details.” Buddy Miller, who has worked with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams (to name a few), produced this album and is quoted as saying, “The poetry and intelligence of Bill Mallonee’s songs rival Dylan’s.” The people who contributed on this record attest to the quality of Bill’s work. Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Julie Miller and Phil Maderia contribute, completed by the Vigilantes who were at the time, Bill, Jacob Bradley and Kevin Heuer.
This is a great record that should have seen the top of the charts. Some of my favorite tracks include “Nothing Like A Train”, “Black Cloud O’er Me”, “Resplendent” and “Could Be A Lot Worse”. If you haven’t listened to Bill and Co. in awhile you should check them out. Bill disbanded the Vigilantes sometime back in 2002 and carried on as a solo artist, typically accompanied by his guitar, harmonica and his wife Muriah Rose who plays piano. At the end of last year though, the Vigilantes reformed and now we get the best of both worlds, Bill solo and Bill backed by a band of amazing musicians. I am grateful for Bill’s music, it is definitely something that has helped me tremendously in my life, and something that has always given me hope. It’s music for the ‘everyday’ person. As Bill has said himself, “I tend to be a heart on the sleeve fella. I figure it’ll resonate with someone somewhere…we’re all made outta similar stuff, I think.”
Check out Bill’s website www.billmallonee.net where you can purchase this record, and most all of his other work, solo and otherwise. The cool thing is that on the website Bill has excellent prices. Most album downloads are around $7.99. Audible Sigh is $12.99, but comes with a bonus 5 songs that bring the total tracks to 19 !!! Check it out, you can’t beat it.