Monday, October 25, 2004

The Reilly Factor

I was on the Channel 4 news this week talking about how tired I am. No lie, it's not a good thing when you make the local news because you are so damn tired (OK the news story really was about how incredibly busy election officials are throughout the state).

There have been a lot of disappointments recently so maybe the most telling sign of how tired I feel is how dejected I felt when I asked a co-worker to bring me up a late night snack from the downstairs vending machine. I wanted Milk Duds. I had to have Milk Duds. I craved Milk Duds. I told my co-worker if the poorly stocked machine didn't have any Milk Duds left to get me something close. What was sent up was a Three Musketeers candy bar and I just about lost it. How is a Three Musketeers anything close to being a Milk Dud? You tell me.

Yup, I have spent so much time at work the past couple of months that I've unfortunately had to miss a lot of things I otherwise wouldn't have missed for the world (I think I remember what it used to be like to have a life). At the top of that long list was having to miss both Ike Reilly concerts last week. I got good reports about both shows, Friday night at the 7th Street Entry and Saturday night at my neighborhood Turf Club. The Ike Reilly Assassination apparently put on their usual stellar live show despite the frontman being a bit ill.

The shows celebrated the release of Reilly's long awaited brand new CD, Sparkle in the Finish. I got my copy in the mail after a long work day and though the routine has suddenly become hopping into bed immediately when I get home, this night I plopped on the CD to listen to as I lie in bed.

I must say it was great hearing new Ike Reilly songs. It's been two long years since his debut CD, Salesmen and Racists came out and the blue-eyed editor turned me on to the CD. It remains the all time crank it up in yer car and sing at the top of your lungs music that I've ever heard.

In between the two CDs was a terrific four song EP. All four of those songs appear on Sparkle in the Finish albeit in different arrangements (much less raucous).

Reilly's music is a combination of tough yet sensitive guy lyrics, catchy guitar based melodies that sear through you like a breath of crisp autumn air. Reilly's vocals top off the in your face rock- one of the best rock and roll singers since John Lennon.

My favorite of the brand new songs is "Holiday in New York" that contains the apt line, "Beautiful girl do the government hustle/Got your job in the fix with big city muscle..." The song seems to be about a trip through New York City but it comes off as a sardonic lament about people with lots of troubles. "It's starting to look to me like a con game now..."

Cohesively Sparkle in the Finish doesn't hold together as well as the songs on Salesmen and Racists nor does the energy of the songs sustain themselves throughout. Yet Reilly's skill as a singer and as a songwriter shine through without question. Typically the songs are impressively complex. The moody "It's All Right to Die" shifts tempos quicker than a leaf tumbling in front of a blistering wind. The refrain "It's all right to die everybody, it's all right to die..." is sung with so much conviction that it probably is all right to do just that.

This is the third really good disc released in the past three weeks joining Brian Wilson's Smile and Tom Waits' Real Gone as music that would make any and all personal music collections infinitely better. "Cars and girls and drinks and songs make this world spin around," Ike sings. And for once no one has to vote on it to know it's true. If nothing else with so much wondrous new music available to anyone who wants to listen, the long hours, the struggles with not having enough time in a day to get all that needs to be done, done, can actually make some sort of senseless sense because nothing can hold down a spirit uplifted by a great song or two.

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