Chris Whitley was a brilliant player who made a near-perfect major-label record like Living With the Law, and could also do the off-the-wall independent stuff he did for the last 15 years of his life. So it’s fitting that this posthumous release combines the feel of both.
In some ways, Reiter In is as accessible as Whitley has been since the early ’90s. Check out the slow boogie and haunting vocal of Willie Dixon’s “Bring It On Home,” which Whitley recorded with a band. And the interplay between him and Sean Balin (on violin) on cuts like “Inn” is simply haunting. The song is basically instrumental, like the closer “Come Home,” where Whitley shares the stage with Tim Beattie on lap steel.
There’s also a fascinating remake of the Stooges’ classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog” – dissonant, grungy, and crunchy by the end. Rock and roll for the apocalypse.
Whitley was known for the otherworldly feel to much his music, and the guitar in “Cut the Cards” sounds like it was recorded in a closet. Mix haunting violin and spoken-word, and it gets a bit spooky.
Any fan of Whitley will love this disc. If you’re not a fan, it’s a good place to start. Or better, grab Living With the Law, and work your way up. The journey is hard work, but well worth it. The music and guitar world is in a lesser place because of Whitley’s death.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’06 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.