There are only a handful of bands that have truly obsessed me at one time or another in my forty-plus years. One of them of course, given my age, being The Beatles
. After that I'd list The Clash, Elvis Costello
, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan,and U2
. I used to own hundreds of record albums, today I own hundreds of CD's. I'm always searching for that next obsession
. I think I've found him. His name is Ike Reilly
, and his second release is a five-song EP
titled Cars & Girls & Drinks & Songs
The title is taken from the lyrics of the first track, I Don't Want What You Got Goin' On. These four simple themes are rock 'n' roll cliches and Reilly's songs all seem to revolve around at least one of them. Yet, Ike Reilly is a subtle lyrical craftsman. Though his songs work as pub anthems that can have crowds pumping their fists in the air, there is always a line or two - a side exit - that is ready to guide the listener down roads less traveled.
The lyrics to an Ike Reilly song can be schizophrenic; verses telling a different story than the chorus or one verse seemingly unrelated to the next. Ike has a wide and eclectic taste in music and references to other artists always pop up here and there. In these five songs he has lyrical references to Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Limp Bizkit, the Violent Femmes, The Stooges and Jerry Lee Lewis.
As on his initial 2001 release, Salesmen and Racists, Ike's song collection here is full of memorable melodies and hooks. Ike's brand of amplified aggressive folk draws obvious comparisons to Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, but he also grabs bits and pieces from Lou Reed, Elvis Costello and Beck - with bluegrass never far in the distance.
Four of these five songs have become staples in Ike's live show - where, if anything, they are even more powerful. Despite the folk and country influences this is loud raucous rock and roll. Only Farewell To The Good Times, Pt. 2 gets left out on stage. It is the weakest selection here - though the song would be fine if the intro and outro were simply cut.
The EP opens with I Don't Want What You Got Goin' On, a song that is being pushed as a single for radio play. I'd love to see a crowd of peace protesters outside the Whitehouse singing the this to George W. Bush. Though the song seemingly has nothing to do with the current administration's attack on civil liberties or the proposed war on Iraq, it's not a long stretch to make it applicable.
Boat Song (We're Getting Loaded) opens with a little theft from Lou Reed's Walk On the Wild Side. Reilly makes a derogatory jibe at the Promise Keepers and includes a reference to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. My favorite verse chronicles a humorous exchange with his son:
I played him "Boy Named Sue"
Now he hates his name
Said when he's eighteen
He's gonna blow me away
is the most straightforward song - both musically and lyrically. A fast-paced ballad
about being on the road, lonely, and missing his lover.
St. Joe's Band is a mellow departure where the studio mix has taken the plaintive edge off of Ike's vocals during the verses, while it remains in the chorus - adding a nice counterpoint. A softly rolling piece of religious introspection that grows upon you the more you hear it.
Farewell To The Good Times, Pt. 2 is a piece of nostalgia lamenting the lack of communication and lost ties to friends and loved ones with a resolution to make more time for them. The body of the song is fine, but the song is dragged down by 20 seconds of "Yeah, Yeah's" repeated at both beginning and end.
I've only seen this CD on sale at Ike's shows. Some copies were sold without a front or back cover insert. Others were sold with only a front cover insert. It appears to be a Universal Records release, but no mention of it can be found on their website or Ike's offical website (www.ikereilly.com). It's possible this is being put out quietly just to tide his hardcore fans over until his next full CD release. Otherwise I have no explanation why it's almost impossible to obtain.
Addendum: Republic Records dropped Ike Reilly. Cars & Girls & Drinks & Songs is a self-released EP and Ike is planning a self-releasing a full CD in the summer of 2002.
Cars & Girls & Drinks & Songs - Track Listing
1 - I Don't Want What You Got Goin' On
2 - Boat Song (We're Getting Loaded)
3 - Garbage Day
4 - St. Joe's Band
5 - Farewell To The Good Times, Pt. 2