Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club
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Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club


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The best kept secret in music


"BLUES-ROCK - Chris Whitley & the Bastard Club -- "Reiter In" (Red Parlor) ****"

A prolific singer-songwriter-guitarist whose body of work was at turns soaring, fervent and poetically reflective, Chris Whitley was far from a household name when he died of lung cancer this past November at age 45. Still, his passing was an immense musical loss, a point that wallops you like a gut-punch upon encountering "Reiter In," which was recorded five months prior to his death, but before he was diagnosed.

It's the kind of album that's impossible to listen to without thinking of the broader context. That's particularly true on tracks like "Inn," which contains just a few words but musically says all you need to know about departure and spiritual ascension, and the loose acoustic jam "Cut the Cards," which has the subdued melancholy of a moonlit, front-porch wake.

That said, the overall vibe is more vibrant than funereal, with all 11 tracks recorded in one take. Things are often rocking and feisty in a way that harkens back to the middle of his career, when Whitley was more prone to let rip with his considerable electric guitar prowess. It's clear the band was having a great time, moving from originals to blues standards to covers, including a droning, sexual take on the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

No single record could summarize or properly send off this chameleonic artist, but it's comforting that "Reiter In" stands with the best stuff of his 14-album career.

By Steve Byrne, Free Press staff writer - Detroit Free Press

"Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club"

Chris Whitley passed away, surrounded by family, on the 20th of November, 2005; Reiter In was recorded in June of the same year. As such, you might expect something spectral, music soaked with the thought of death. The cover art suggests it: A figure, presumably Whitley, ascends a staircase in what looks like a subway station, walking towards an entry that pours forth light. “Reiter In” is German for “Rider In,” and also the name of a poem Whitley's partner Susann Bürger recites on the title track, in both German and English. The approach is layered enough it's hard to catch all of the import, but the clearest line is reprinted in the album booklet: “The rider is the ghost that leads the body.” Whitley was no stranger to the sparse and haunted; some of his finest work, from Hotel Vast Horizon to Dirt Floor is so tense that the thought of a dying Whitley turning his hand to an album in that mode is painful.

But Reiter In isn't about death, it's about life, and it's not credited to both Whitley and the Bastard Club (who would probably have become Whitley's first real backing band had he lived) by accident. It doesn't even feel like a wake, really; it's a very talented musician and his friends having fun. Any record that starts with loose, hammering covers of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Bring It on Home” isn't going to be bogged down with self-conscious sentiment. There are more important things to do.

Of course, part of the joy of Reiter In is that it goes from there directly to Whitley and drummer Brian Geltner's “Inn,” almost instrumental (and drumless, perversely enough) and beautiful in its violin-aided drift. Everything here is rawly recorded, with studio chatter and tape edits intact, and so you can hear them asking “did we get it?” as the song slows to a halt. And then a quick whirr of tape and they launch into a monumental cover of the Flaming Lips' “Mountain Side,” which sounds more like they're adapting Zeppelin circa “When the Levee Breaks” at first than the Lips. Everything thus far has been entertaining, but “Mountain Side” is essential, the band powering in around Whitley's guitar and voice. He has two covers to come, the Passions' vaguely New Romantic nugget “I'm in Love with a German Film Star” and Gary Numan's “Are Friends Electric?”, and he manages to remake both over as the kind of grinding, rootsy rock the Bastard Club are best suited to making, while still performing with the kind of love that ensures these versions aren't gimmicks. Those two, however, are nestled between the two most amorphous, dreamlike tracks here, lap steel player Tim Beattie's arrangement of Pierre Reverdy's poem “Cut the Cards” and the title track. Both are spoken word (Whitley in the former case, sounding wry while talking about death) over reined in almost-hoedowns.

It's the juxtaposition that makes this album so effective, the reflective meditations next to the rowdy covers as if nothing were more natural. After “Reiter In” Whitley tears through his own “I Go Evil” with evident relish, sneer back in his voice. This is a guy, after all, who skipped from sound to sound so much he confounded labels and fans, as well as struggling with his share of substance-based demons; the streak of perversity in his eclectic career has always surfaced as glee. “I Go Evil” is just another good song in a life full of them, but Whitley seems to take special joy in its fierce wah-wah and harmonica interplay. But the record ends on a more graceful note with the lengthy, gently rollicking “All Beauty Taken from You in This Life Remains Forever” and the briefly blazing instrumental “Come Home.” To the end, it sounds mostly like people having fun, no grand statements made. As Whitley himself chuckles at the end of “I Go Evil,” “it's cornball but cool.”

And that wouldn't be so crucial if Reiter In wasn't a posthumous release, but it was and it is. The temptation to do something “important” as an artist if you know you're sick with lung cancer must be enormous, but Whitley didn't succumb and so this album does wind up being significant. It's a particular kind of courage, to continue to live and love and pay homage and even party in the face of death and passing, to acknowledge death but to be unrestrained by it, and Chris Whitley's refusal to turn this music into a sob story speaks volumes about the musician and man that he was. The music here is fine and spirited and would be another good entry into an astonishing body of work had Whitley lived; as it is, Reiter In is the finest effort he could have left us with, and a fitting celebration of his life and work.

Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2006-04-27 - Stylus Magazine

"FMQB Review"

Best known for his rootsy debut album, 1991’s Living With The Law, Chris Whitley spent most of his career blending styles and crossing genres, trying to follow his muse rather than meet pre-determined expectations of others. That penchant for diversity is best captured in Whitley’s final recording, Reiter In, which was made last June, just five months before the Singer/Songwriter’s death. With Whitley’s National steel driving the tunes, he covers some of his favorite songs written by everyone from Willie Dixon to Gary Numan, mixing in a few originals, as well. The selections are so wide-ranging, in just the first three tracks you’ll find Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” Dixon’s “Bring It On Home” and an original, entitled “Inn.” The passion and urgency found on Reiter In make it a “must-add,” you just need to find the track that fits your station. In addition to the tunes already mentioned, FMQB also recommends trying out “Mountain Side” and “I’m In Love With A German Film Star,” but it would be tough to go wrong with any song on this collection. - FMQB

"Playboy Review"

4 of 4 "Bunnies"

Five months before his death, Whitley went into the studio with a strong band. As expected, there are plenty of intimations of mortality on this album. You’d be hard-pressed to name a more restless musician, but here Whitley returns to the blues. He goes out with a bang.
- Leopold Froehlich

"Paste Article 11-23-05"

If he was anything in a 14-year career that saw him release 12 albums, collect piles of critical acclaim and build a cult following that included the likes of Iggy Pop and Bruce Springsteen, singer/songwriter Chris Whitley was restless. “He has always been interested in doing something that is interesting to him, and different,” says the singer’s devoted friend and one-man label Brandon Kessler, chief of Messenger Records. “Each record is different, if not the polar opposite of the previous. He’s an artist. He really had no choice in life but to create music and art. That was the only thing he was capable of doing.”

Whitley died Sunday, succumbing to lung cancer at a friend’s home in Houston. He was 45. His diagnosis just weeks earlier put the brakes on an uncompromising career, a wholly individual trip that found the Texas-bred Whitley evolve from slide bluesman to an avant, forever poetic soulman of sorts who could segue into Prince’s “Erotic City” mid-song just as easily as he could in genuinely spellbinding fashion summon the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta, with a slide over his finger, and his boot stomping the stage. To be sure, it could be quite jaw slackening.

“I remember when we were cutting ‘Narcotic Prayer,’ and Chris was doing the solo that ended the song,” recalls Danny Kadar, engineer of three Whitley albums, and producer of the 2002 anthology Long Way Around. “I was sitting there with the chief engineer, and when he finished the solo, nobody wanted to press the talkback button, because no one wanted to break the silence, the mood and the vibe. Nobody wanted to talk to him. It was just kind of, like, ‘What do you say?’ And of course Chris thought we thought it sucked. He walked into the control room and said, ‘Ah, that was just some dumbass shit I was playing.’” “Chris was able to tap into emotions that go deep, that people even if they could do it, they rarely would,” Kadar says. “And he did it regularly whether it was a rage thing or a love thing. Everything was as completely deep as it could be.”

It’s a comment echoed by noted producer Daniel Lanois Tuesday: “The deep soul he was gifted with is the soul that challenged his life journey. I will forever remember his beauty.”

Born in Houston on Aug. 31, 1960, Whitley as a child moved around, picking up guitar while moving from Houston to Dallas and then to Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, Connecticut and eventually to New York’s Greenwich Village. It was in New York that he met Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Ron Sexsmith), who in turn helped him score a deal with Columbia for Living With the Law, a beautifully cinematic collection of songs both rural and urban. With gritty stories of drug runners and hookers, motorcycles and bordertowns, Living With the Law was widely praised (and even scored him an opening slot on a Tom Petty tour), but its follow-ups didn’t translate commercially, and after two additional major-label discs under the Sony banner failed to even appease sales goals, he began a long indie tenure interrupted briefly by the programming and scratch-laden Rocket House, his 2001 one-off for ATO Records, the RCA-affiliated label co-founded by Dave Matthews.

On the eve of the album’s release, Matthews told Billboard, “Chris is an example of one of those things that appalls me about the record industry—and, unfortunately, it is an industry. That is, how could a talent like his go relatively unnoticed? So few singers have their own personality, and Chris is his own man to the bone. Honestly, I feel more passion for his music than I do for my own. My music I’m critical of. But I have a fervent, religious devotion to the magic that Chris makes.”

Whitley spent the bulk of his post-Sony years releasing albums through Kessler’s New York-based indie, Messenger Records, and acclimating to his smaller, while nevertheless acclaimed role in the music business. “What I came to terms with by making some small indie records and meeting other people who work in that way is that, hey, if a record doesn’t do blockbuster numbers, then that’s OK,” Whitley told Billboard in 2001, while discussing Rocket House. “Even if ATO doesn’t want me anymore, I could move to Santa Fe, make little records, advertise them on a website. I could even get a job and give the records away. I feel more comfortable with my place in the culture now and the fact that I don’t have to fear the cool police or this cult of youth.”

And over the past two years that indie tenure only seemed to be heating up, as Whitley enjoyed an especially prolific period in which he released four discs in three years. In July, Messenger issued Soft Dangerous Shores, of which veteran New York scribe Bradley Bambarger noted: “[Whitley] continues his quest to express the ‘universal blues,’ the song of love and death that Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix knew but so may have, in his way, André Breton.”

Over the years, Whitley grew a cult following that includes the likes of Springsteen, Joh - Paste Magazine

"All Music Guide Review"

One has to wonder if Reiter In is, in fact, the late Chris Whitley's last will and testament in terms of recordings. Done in the first three days of June, 2005 -- he was already ill -- this set was recorded in New York with a host of friends he called "the Bastard Club" on analogue tape. The band is large, the sound is immediate. The feel is loose, raw, dark, rocked-up, and in-your-face. Without trying to sound morbid, the feeling of death and mortality is everywhere. The word "reiter" means "horseman." There were no overdubs. The track selection bears out the mood of the players. The tape bleeds through, and studio dialogue seeps through. The tape winds to a fast stop where the cuts get made and then slip into gear again to start them. Opening with the Stooges classic "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with a distorted, plodding, raucous, so-loose-it-almost-falls-apart in the beginning as Whitley's electric guitar playing is over the damn edge. The vocals aren't spectacular -- they don't have to be -- but the vibe is. The track is pure sexual darkness in overdrive. That kind of libertine darkness, held close in so many of his own songs, is let out of the bag here and it makes no apologies and takes no prisoners. Restraint is cast to the dustbin, but the tune just sort of ends, falls apart as if the band is completely spent after playing it. It's followed by a too-loose reading of Willie Dixon's "Bring It On Home." Whitley was first and foremost a blues player; though it's true he invented his own kind of rusted American desert blues. Here, he tries to play it straight, and his thin, raspy voice is no match for the drunken slippage of the guitars. "Inn," features Whitley's trademark bottleneck playing on electric, accompanied by harmonica, Sean Balin's violin, Kenny Siegal's acoustic guitar slips in and out, and Whitley moans and groans ever-so-ghostly and speaks through the mix. He says at one point "you just watch me walk away..." as the guitars just float, stab, wind and bend; drums are absent on this one. Delays and distortion boxes can't hide Whitley's spare playing. The cover of the Flaming Lips' "Mountain Side" is just F***in' awesome. It many ways it tops the original with Whitley's screaming electric slide playing tearing up the tune from the inside, it sounds like the voice of the mountain calling out of itself. This track just roars, and Whitley's voice holds authority over the din. "Cut the Cards" is a country tune that feels a lot like Ronnie Lane is playing with Whitley; its lyrics a haunted poem by Pierre Reverdy, its melody written by harmonicat and lap steel player Tim Beattie. But there's more. The other covers include a messed-up thudding, nightmarish rock version of the Passions' "I'm in Love with a German Film Star," with spooky vocals by Whitley and Gwen Snyder. Also here is a freakish, beautifully paranoid, electric guitar blaze-out version of Gary Numan's "Are Friends Electric" that turns the tune into something else entirely. Whitley's take on the lyric is so startling it's as if the words had never been heard before; like he uncovers a hidden meaning in them as he stares into the void. But there is no morbidity in them at all. It's life looking through the portal at its other side. But Whitley's own tunes offer the true testament to what's happening. The title track features Sussan Bürger's translated spoken word reading of a German poem by an unknown author. The words speak to death with courage and resignation, acceptance, sorrow, and hope. The guitars simply walk behind her, carrying the weight of humanity into something beyond oblivion: "The rider is the ghost that leads the body/Its longings embody the journey of the soul/through the world/with all its temptations, obstacles, tests, rehearsals and proof of character/and its development toward perfection..." "I Go Evil" is hard, Hendrix-styled funky blues wailing without restraint. It's rage, libido, and fear all channeled into the almighty riff. The shuffling blues of "All the Beauty Taken from You in This Life Remains Forever" is driven choogling by harmonica, National Steel bottleneck, snare and cymbal, fiddle, and who knows what else, offering a bed for Whitley's snarling moan on a journey: stuttering, faltering, falling, and staggering through life to its conclusion. Heiko Schramm's instrumental "Come Home" is where the trip ends. Once more, Whitley's soaring slide rises above the messy rhythm section to find its place in the heavens. It touches earth a time or two, riffing, hard, slinky, tough, erotic, and gritty. But it never stops climbing, singing itself into the sun beyond night like an Icarus who has wings of titanium instead of wax. And then -- it just stops. Over. No tape bleed-through. Nothing. Silence. Too brief; too soon. Fly free old friend.

-Thom Jurek - AMG - All Music Guide

"CNN Video Clip - 3.28.06"

The history of rock-and-roll includes a few too many stories of talented artists who died before their time. Chris whitley joined this unfortunate club last november. But his musical legacy is still growing, through a new album he recorded shortly before his death. "Paste magazine" recommends it, and we'll check it out next.

Every tuesday, we take a look at new music and movies that are just a bit under the mainstream, good stuff you might not have heard about. We bring in the guys from "paste magazine" to help us out, and I'm joined now by Paste editor Josh Jackson. Josh, welcome. It's been a while since youve been in. Good to see you. Thanks. It's a posthumous album from guitarist chris whitley, who died last november. Tell us about it. He died of lung cancer, just had a wonderful body of work behind him. This is his 14th album, he's a Grammy nominated artist and just took blues and sort of meshed it with grunge and other kinds of rock and came up with his own sound. It's a joyful record and it sounds like they were really just having fun on this sort of last shot out. They did a cover of The Stooges, "I Want To Be Your Dog." And a great cover that we're going to listen to today of The Flaming Lips' "Mountain Side." Let's take a listen to Chris Whitley.

Very strong. He's an amazing guitarist.
- CNN Headline News - Paste Picks

"Album Review - Guitar Player"

Completed shortly before the revered guitarist and singer-songwriter died of lung cancer last November, Whitley’s final effort is a low-fi, high-energy collection that furthers his incredible legacy. The disc was recorded almost entirely in one take with no overdubs, which suits these rough-hewn gems perfectly. Reiter In showcases Whitley’s accessible eclecticism by bringing together original material penned by Whitley and his band—featuring members of New York alterna-rockers Johnny Society—and several intriguing covers, including Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric?” and the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The disc’s highlight is a magnificently raw version of the Flaming Lips’ “Mountain Side” that finds Whitley’s blistering guitar licks and raucous vocals at their most urgent. The album also takes listeners into the sessions by including studio chatter and tape roll sounds, making an already intimate recording even more so.

-Anil Prasad - Guitar Player Magazine

"Reiter In - Album review - Whitley’s Bastards From Beyond"

I wondered how I would react to hearing Reiter In (Red Parlor), the new record from the late Chris Whitley with a band he called the Bastard Club. But then I realized that the wiry Whitley always had a haunted sound to his singing and playing. So, listening to him after his untimely death last November actually didn’t seem as unsettling as I expected. Actually, it was hard not to hear his version of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” as anything but life-affirming, or at least as a reminder that that old dog of a song has a lot of life and bite left in it. If you never visited Chris’ work while he was with us, this is a great starting point. In addition to a few originals, there are a few more covers that help give you a taste of how deep and wide his roots were. There aren’t many people that can cover the Stooges, Willie Dixon (”Bring It On Home”), the Flaming Lips (”Mountain Side”) and the Passions (”I’m In Love With A German Film Star”) in the same record so well. In fact, I wonder if we’ve seen the last of the guys who could really do it. - - Steve Ciabattoni

"Reiter In Review"

Chris Whitley - Reiter In

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Chris Whitley died of cancer in November 2005 at the age of 45 shortly after completing Reiter In, his 14th record. Growing up, Whitley and his family lived in Texas, Connecticut, Mexico, and Vermont. While in Vermont, Chris picked up the guitar at age 14. In 1977, Whitley moved to NYC’s West Village where he starting playing guitar in Washington Square Park. While in NYC, he was introduced to producer Daniel Lanois, which eventually led to Whitley’s first record, Living With the Law, released in 1991. It was chosen as best debut of 1991 by Rolling Stone. During his career, Whitley garnered a devoted following and critical acclaim and is revered for his inventive National steel guitar playing, spiritual vocals, and immensely poetic lyrics. The depth, intensity, and integrity of his music inspired ardent admirers, including musicians such as Dave Matthews, Beth Orton, and Iggy Pop. Whitley’s passing was deeply felt throughout music communities in the U.S. and Europe. He had a passion and singular talent for expressing both joy and pain through his music. He held fast to his artistic vision; he could have capitalized on the success of Living With the Law, but he was driven to reinvent himself with each successive record. As a songwriter, Whitley created memorable sonic experiences. You don’t just listen to his songs, you feel them. His songs suggest cinematic images with their lush metaphoric lyrics and sensual vibe.

Reiter In serves as an important part of his legacy because it is so different and unique. It is a bittersweet listening experience, reminding us of all the new music he would have conceived and created. Whitley called this band The Bastard Club and planned to make more records under that name. Reiter In was completed in June 2005 in upstate NY using analog tape for a rich, warm sound. Whitley evokes a solemn yet celebratory feeling. An ethereal element, a poem recited in German and English underneath the music, is repeated time and again: "The rider is the ghost that leads the body.” This collection of songs illustrates his focus on musical invention and diversity. Whitley explained in an interview, “Diversity in a record always turns me on; that it sounds like each song is complete but I love the contrast from one song to the next. I like it to be surprising and a bit challenging. I like it to be compelling.” Reiter In proves the point with folk blues, new wave, punk-rock, German themes, spoken-word poetry, and rhythmic, sultry rock. There’s a sense of daring and beauty with these one-take analog records – it’s atmospheric and moody, and true to the Chris Whitley tradition -- different from all his previous records.

Whitley’s vocals range from vulnerable to energetic on this record. “Cut the Cards” has a haunting, sweet melody during which Whitley hums, sings, and reads a Pierre Reverdy poem: “Death could happen/What I hold within my arms could slip away/A dream.” It was recorded on a child's tape recorder on an outdoor porch so the feeling is intimate. He continues, “There’s a field where we still could run/Unlimited stars/And your shadow where the avenue ends, vanishes.” The melancholic mood is intensified by the woeful sounds of the violin and Whitley’s vocalizations. “Inn” is another achingly gorgeous tune, punctuated by violin and Whitley’s sighs and pained words: “Now when I left/You just watched me walk away.”

Reiter In includes several covers by some of Whitley’s favorite artists. Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is lively and sets the tone for the record’s joyful elements. Chris and his brother, Dan (The Dan Whitley Band), sitting in on harp, opened for Willie Dixon in NYC when they were 17 and 14, respectively. Whitley selected “Bring it On Home” (Willie Dixon) and created a spirited, infectious track. Whitley always loved The Flaming Lips and interprets “Mountain Side” with fiery intensity: “If I’m driving down your highway/And I’m crashing through your dream.” “I’m In Love With a German Film Star” (The Passions) is fresh and relevant. Gary Numan’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” is brilliantly recreated with playful guitars and emotions: “You know I hate to ask/But are friends electric?/Mine broke down/And now I've no one to love.” Whitley’s “I Go Evil” begins with Reverdy’s poem, but moves to another place with crashing electric guitars and harmonica. “All Beauty Taken FromYou In This Life Remains Forever” evokes a sense of spontaneity. The last track, “Come Home,” an upbeat instrumental, rounds out this timeless record.

Throughout Reiter In, a creative and organic energy shines though. With Whitley’s banter (“Come on, man. It’s cornball but cool”), distortion, spontaneous laughter and chatter between tracks, the listener is brought into the studio experience. Reiter In was left exactly as Whitley wanted it; producer Kenny Siegal (guitarist with Johnny Society) was careful to honor that. - Joyce Peters


Reiter In - 2006
Soft Dangerous Shores - 2005
War Crime Blues - 2004
Weed - 2004
Hotel Vast Horizon - 2003
Rocket House - 2001
Perfect Day - 2000
Live at Martyr's - 2000
Dirt Floor - 1998
Terra Incognita - 1997
Din of Ecstasy - 1995
Living with the law -1991


Feeling a bit camera shy


Chris Whitley was a Texas-based singer-songwriter who initially began his career as a bluesy roots-rocker, but as his career progressed, he moved deeper into rock & roll and alternative rock. Though Whitley's albums usually received postiive reviews, they rarely sold, and his tendency to rework his sound prevented him from developing a sizable cult following among singer-songwriter fans.

As a child, Whitley moved frequently through the Southeast, eventually moving with his mother to Mexico when his parents divorced when he was 11; they later settled in a log cabin in Vermont. At the age of 15, he began playing guitar, inspired by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix, eventually learning how to play slide guitar. He quit high school a year before graduation, moving to New York City, where he busked on the streets. One of his performances was witnessed by a listener who ran a travel agency, and decided that Whitley would be a success in Belgium and offered to send him to Europe. With nothing to lose, Whitley accepted the offer.

Once in Belgium, Whitley recorded a series of albums that flip-flopped between blues, rock and funk. The records made him a minor success in Belgium, but he decided to return to New York anyway in 1990. He happened to meet producer Daniel Lanois later that year. Impressed by Whitley's songs, Lanois helped set up a deal with Columbia Records for the songwriter, and produced his first album. Released in the spring of 1991, Whitley's U.S. debut Living with the Law was an atmospheric set of blues and folk-rock that received glowing reviews and earned him a slot opening for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Though Living with the Law seemed to position Chris Whitley for a breakthrough into a cult audience, he waited four years to deliver his second record, Din of Ecstasy. An attempt to connect with the hard-edged mainstream alternative-rock audience that developed in the years following the release of Living with the Law, the grunge-flavored Din of Ecstasy -- which was released on Columbia's recently developed "alternative" subsidiary, WORK -- received mixed reviews and alienated his roots-rock audience without winning him new fans. Two years later, Whitley released Terra Incognita, which combined elements of his first two records. Dirt Floor followed on the Messenger in 1998, restoring Whitley to a level of critical acclaim that rivaled his early work. Live at Martyrs' followed in the spring of 2000, and just a few months later, the spare studio effort Perfect Day appeared on the Valley imprint. Rocket House (2001) expanded on more soulful grooves, and boasted eclectic collaborations with Bruce Hornsby, Blondie Chaplin, and Dave Matthews. It was also his first for Matthews' own imprint, ATO Records. A year later, Long Way Around: An Anthology 1991-2001 compiled his years at Columbia. The stark, naked, and compelling Hotel Vast Horizon appeared in 2003 and was followed by two, mail-order only albums, Weed and War Crime Blues. The two casual albums were interim offerings between Hotel Vast Horizon and his next studio outing, 2005's Soft Dangerous Shores. Whitley toured for much of 2005, but by mid-October, he was forced to cancel his remaining dates due to complications from lung cancer. He died in his home on November 20, 2005.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Courtesy All Music Guide (